Breaking Bad – A Generational Gemstone


Josiah L (Year 12), Chief Contributor

A show that revolves around the world of illegal drugs and paints a devastating picture of the destruction they cause, yet, ironically, is so damn good it’s addictive!  

Now, I know I was pretty lenient with my previous review of ‘The Batman’, giving it 8/10 Bin Chickens, praising the film for all its qualities yet forgetting to mention its flaws as a result of my adoration (and bias) for the character…but I promise that all the ovation I am about to give ‘Breaking Bad’ doesn’t spur simply from my love for the show, but rather the show’s genuine brilliance (and I don’t use the word ‘brilliance’ lightly). 

‘Breaking Bad’ follows the story of Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a middle-aged, overqualified High School teacher with an incredible knowledge of chemistry. After learning he possesses terminal lung cancer, Walt, wanting to ensure his family’s financial security after he passes, takes interest in the money that can be made from the illegal narcotics industry. Deciding to partner with ex-student turned drug dealer Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), Walt applies his astounding skills in chemistry to manufacture the purest crystal meth in America, leading him on a path of murder, tragic ambition, and evil. 

There’s a reason this show is widely regarded as one of the greatest shows of all time…it is a show that gives me hope people can still tell great stories that are creative in a world that is losing its ability to generate solid entertainment with every passing Marvel movie and Disney+ series…a show that reflects writing and character work at its best…a show that is so consistent in its quality it’ll make you want to stand on a hillside and sing opera to the earth as the sun sets.  

One of the strongest components of this series is its impeccable writing, highlighting that, just as in real life, your actions have consequences. Nothing is forgotten about in ‘Breaking Bad’; something that occurs is season 2 can have repercussions all the way in season 4; if a character makes a decision that will save their life in one moment, it could have devastating effects in another.  

On top of this, the writers have created a world that feels unique and interesting despite being set in the real world; every aspect of the drug realm is explored, from the desperate and decaying “meth-heads”, to the foot-soldiers making sure the narcotics distribution process runs smoothly, to the ruthless drug lords sitting in their mansions watching as the havoc their products cause feeds them more money. Because of this, the world of ‘Breaking Bad’ feels fleshed out, authentic, dangerous and layered. To top off the world-building is the beautiful cinematography, at the very least consisting of extraordinary landscape shots of the cruel desert setting, as well as a fascinating use of POV shots, each getting more creative than the last, giving the show its own exclusive style. 

All this considered, the heart and soul of this series is its characters. Every member of the cast gives a fantastic performance with no weak links. Each character has so much depth; even the characters that appear generic and stereotypical at the beginning of the show obtain wonderful arch’s that take them in a completely different direction. Some honourable mentions include Hank Schrader (Dean Norris), Marie Schrader (Betsy Brandt), Skyler White (Anna Gunn), Walt Jr. (RJ Mitte), Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk), and Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks).  

Despite this “A list” of memorable characters, the two that take the cake have to be the leads themselves, Jesse Pinkman and Walter White; these two characters are honestly brilliant, with unique traits and personalities accompanied by perfect character arcs. The relationship between Jesse and Walt is absolutely beautiful, beginning as hilarious and absurd, to “father and son” like, to broken and shattered. Jesse, probably the most lovable character due to his sense of morality despite his occupation, transforms from a childish, low level drug dealer into a mature yet terribly damaged man. On the other hand, Walt begins as a moderately depressed every-day American, morphing into a narcissistic and murderous drug lord, resembling the concept of change which is at the heart of chemistry (and the series). 

Finally, ‘Breaking Bad’ includes some of TV’s most terrifying antagonists such as the volatile Tuco Salamanca (Raymond Cruz), the iconic calm and calculated yet ruthless Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito), and the psychotic Todd Alquist (Jesse Plemmons). These villains contribute to the sense of authenticity throughout the show. The writers don’t present us with an idealised or fanciful version of reality but the real world, a world filled with good and evil, right and wrong and the very blurry line between them.  

In conclusion, ‘Breaking Bad’ is a great show that you should watch the second you get the chance. If you’re not interested, then I would suggest the stunning and profoundly insightful Netflix series ‘Too Hot to Handle’.  


10/10 Bin Chickens.