Breaking Bad Hatewatch: Kickoff

It would be a giant understatement to call this an “unpopular opinion,” but I just don’t like Breaking Bad. I don’t super enjoy watching it, which would be fine–there are a lot of great shows that I admire even as they’re not to my taste. But in this case, even the admiration factor is pretty low. Beyond simple enjoyment, I just don’t think Breaking Bad is that great a show.

And I gave it a real chance, I promise. The first time around, I made it to the beginning of season three, and I did enjoy parts of it. I appreciated the wonderful acting and cinematography. But I couldn’t bring myself to keep going, mostly because I found the writing to be sort of mediocre. If I remember correctly, it is, at its core, just another entry in the pulpy crime show genre. It has moments of real artistry, but in the end follows the same formula as any other mediocre crime show: white guy antihero faces a series of increasingly cartoonish Big Bads until he’s the baddest cowboy in town. While other, superior shows have humanized and commented on this formula to amazing effect (often without getting anywhere near the number of accolades), Breaking Bad plays its silly plots and insane contrivances completely straight. It’s basically Justified without the winking sense of humor. It’s The Americans without Keri Russell (which is to say: nothing worth mentioning).

If you agree, or especially if you don’t, then come on this ride with me and revisit one of the so-called “greatest shows of all time.” I will be posting a recap of a couple episodes per week (with commentary from Keets, a fellow hater), sometimes just one if that episode is particularly iconic (*cough*Ozymandias*cough*).

Despite the antagonistic name of this rewatch, I won’t just be contrarian for the sake of being contrarian. I will acknowledge all of the great things about this show, particularly the performances of Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, and (my fave) Krysten Ritter. Who knows, maybe I’ll even feel differently about the show by the end. But I will also highlight all the reasons that Breaking Bad is vastly overrated–or, at the very least, why it’s only as acclaimed as it is because of a beloved, already-outdated white male archetype. Could a female protagonist get away with literal murder because she was sexually frustrated? Would it be a charming novelty to watch a POC protagonist turn into a hardened drug dealer, or would it be uncomfortably on-the-nose? Could any show with not-white-men–in front of or behind the camera–get away with ridiculous contrivances like that stupid in-media-res airplane crash? These questions, and many more, will drive my “hatewatch” (which I would probably call a “rethinking” if that were at all grabby).

Happy reading! Please leave the death threats at home.

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