Binge Guide

Weekly Binge: Breaking Bad

by | May 2, 2014 | Comments

Maybe you didn’t have AMC at the time — or perhaps you weren’t sure you could wait a week between each episode — but now, with every season of Breaking Bad available on DVD and streaming, you have no excuse not to marathon one of the most binge-able shows in the history of television.

Here’s what you need to know before you start Breaking Bad.


Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad
What’s the premise? Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a high school chemistry teacher, uses his expertise to produce crystal meth with a former flunky student (Aaron Paul) in order to finance treatment for advanced lung cancer in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

What’s it like? In his pitch to AMC, Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan described Walter White as “Mr. Chips turning into Scarface” — a premise which Gilligan sticks to throughout the series’ five seasons. Part fish-out-of-water story, part midlife-crisis-to-end-all-midlife-crises, Walter White’s journey from good guy to bad guy captures as much of the themes and styles of a spaghetti western as it does a gangster film. The darkly comical cast of side characters could have easily been imported from a Coen Brothers movie, and when Breaking Bad does suspense, it’s in the same league as Quentin Tarantino’s most intense and memorable scenes.

Where can I see it? Now that all five seasons have aired, you can view the complete series on Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Vudu and iTunes.

How long will it take? Breaking Bad is 62 highly-addictive episodes, running about 48 minutes each. If you do two episodes a day, it’ll take you a month — but you may find it difficult to watch Breaking Bad in moderation.

What do the critics think? All five seasons of Breaking Bad are Certified Fresh on the Tomatometer, and seasons two through five notched perfect scores of 100 percent each. It doesn’t get much better than this. In 2011, Verne Gay of Newsday called Breaking Bad “TV’s best series” and Tim Goodman of the Hollywood Reporter wrote, “One of television’s greatest dramas… It’s one of the most fearless and selfless gambits ever hatched in the name of enduring art.” At the beginning of season five, David Wiegand of the San Francisco Chronicle said, “There are so many reasons the show stands out from virtually any other series on TV: the performances, the writing, the direction and, most of all, the creative vision of Vince Gilligan.” And David Hiltbrand of the Philadelphia Inquirer said, “Breaking Bad is the quintessential series of our binge-watching TV era.” So, what are you waiting for?

Why should I watch this? With Breaking Bad, Vince Gilligan poses a provocative question: If you knew you could die soon, would you make a bold change to your life — and would it be bad? To answer that question, Gilligan created a character whose gradual transformation from protagonist to villain is a fascinating study in power, ego, success, greed, intelligence, manipulation, identity, and mortality. Bryan Cranston is riveting as Walter White, and his relationships with his wife (Anna Gunn), his son (RJ Mitte), his brother-in-law (Dean Norris), and most of all, his protege (Aaron Paul), give glimpses into a character who otherwise won’t reveal what he’s thinking — except that he’s in complete control. Have trust in Walter White, and you will be in for one of the most exciting adventures of your TV-watching life.

What’s my next step? Breaking Bad draws on a number of films for inspiration that you should consider adding to your queue. In particular, Ikiru, a 1952 film by Akira Kurosawa, tells the story of a Tokyo man with terminal cancer and how his life changes after his diagnoses (Ikiru is based on Leo Tolstoy’s novella, The Death of Ivan Ilyich, which might also interest you). Also, no comparative analysis of Breaking Bad is complete without a screening of the 1968 Sergio Leone film, Once Upon a Time in the West. Gilligan is heavily influenced by westerns and Leone in general, and had potential Breaking Bad directors screen the first fifteen minutes of Once Upon a Time in the West as a primer on how the show should look and feel. Other classics such as Cool Hand Luke, The French Connection, and The Godfather (Parts I and II) leave their fingerprints on Breaking Bad — from quick allusions to entire character arcs. If you’re interested in binging another TV series with an antihero focus, try The Sopranos or The Shield, the latter of which has a carefully constructed narrative to satisfy the most nit-picky viewers. For a lighter look at an unlikely drug dealer, check out Showtime’s Weeds, starring Mary-Louise Parker and Kevin Nealon.

What do you like about Breaking Bad? How would you explain it to a newbie? Get in on the conversation here.

Tag Cloud

Calendar indiana jones free movies based on movie Sundance TV best war Film Grammys Walt Disney Pictures Apple TV+ Musicals 90s prank Schedule RT21 comiccon documentary Tubi Kids & Family 99% anime Watching Series know your critic Video Games boxoffice adenture robots SDCC The CW Disney Plus Ghostbusters Trailer E3 dark richard e. Grant romantic comedy ghosts vampires cults movies trailers travel legend TCM SundanceTV quibi Character Guide Emmy Nominations NBA Crunchyroll Apple deadpool Showtime hollywood 20th Century Fox hidden camera Broadway 24 frames political drama golden globes ITV marvel comics Elton John Amazon marvel cinematic universe sequel Super Bowl CMT high school composers dexter reviews DC streaming service aapi History ABC Family screen actors guild comic book movie hist Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt biopic Women's History Month Sundance Now MTV Hallmark TLC Ovation zero dark thirty Disney+ Disney Plus crime drama diversity Superheroes Starz slashers Dark Horse Comics Star Trek Cosplay rt labs critics edition Reality Competition technology Premiere Dates Opinion royal family Oscars blockbuster foreign American Society of Cinematographers canceled spanish Peacock ABC BBC America revenge cancelled TV series comic book movies MCU all-time venice A&E Music Countdown Spring TV elevated horror Superheroe Western superman BET Awards thriller Fox Searchlight festivals anthology Pixar OWN comic books Podcast Hallmark Christmas movies Shudder reboot PlayStation IFC Films emmy awards Drama 93rd Oscars casting mutant nbcuniversal 73rd Emmy Awards 2015 Set visit asian-american ESPN Amazon Prime Video Cannes Lifetime The Witch President laika debate ViacomCBS new star wars movies Paramount Plus Lionsgate Television Academy Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Creative Arts Emmys toronto miniseries Tarantino DC Universe Animation Mary Poppins Returns worst Holidays blockbusters comic biography Fox News Christmas Food Network 2017 obituary Reality harry potter crime thriller book Avengers politics A24 golden globe awards Song of Ice and Fire sports Television Critics Association Biopics talk show science fiction CBS All Access zombie Stephen King adventure Rom-Com hispanic Best and Worst cancelled TV shows video on demand Comic-Con@Home 2021 Polls and Games Logo First Look news unscripted VOD animated 71st Emmy Awards sag awards OneApp Masterpiece Rocky Summer Disney Channel Turner Classic Movies twilight saw LGBT toy story Mary Tyler Moore Interview james bond south america Sci-Fi Freeform BBC One award winner video dramedy period drama Winter TV dragons Captain marvel Trivia Spectrum Originals critic resources crossover action-comedy Disney Writers Guild of America Certified Fresh screenings sitcom game of thrones cancelled DirecTV Photos series Columbia Pictures Sneak Peek versus superhero E! kaiju Box Office a nightmare on elm street Pacific Islander BAFTA BET Crackle rotten Family YouTube YA binge television Toys Tomatazos Pirates TV 21st Century Fox italian Fall TV king kong Red Carpet Legendary cinemax Infographic 45 TNT 2020 Film Festival children's TV discovery teaser what to watch rt labs tv talk concert DGA suspense Year in Review Chernobyl Musical name the review independent Turner die hard cops wonder woman festival Acorn TV BBC Thanksgiving Tumblr Black History Month Nominations FOX Binge Guide Mystery Winners GoT HBO TCA Winter 2020 indie dceu Ellie Kemper Discovery Channel psycho Tokyo Olympics streaming movies spanish language Martial Arts critics Pop TV heist movie slasher serial killer 4/20 batman 1990s Spike cancelled television remakes universal monsters TCA Awards APB spider-man blaxploitation Black Mirror spy thriller First Reviews Action Netflix Christmas movies Teen cats Amazon Prime aliens comics Cartoon Network black The Purge directors Comics on TV Vudu 2018 FX on Hulu TIFF Marvel worst movies TV Land VH1 Esquire PBS true crime WGN GLAAD sequels Comedy facebook NYCC psychological thriller CBS Disney streaming service docuseries singing competition YouTube Premium Lifetime Christmas movies The Arrangement Arrowverse Wes Anderson Nat Geo Pet Sematary VICE PaleyFest romance WarnerMedia supernatural australia mission: impossible Netflix godzilla Holiday french rt archives Academy Awards international USA scene in color USA Network Pop monster movies lord of the rings Universal GIFs SXSW Extras new zealand popular natural history police drama MSNBC TV movies 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards films fast and furious finale Marvel Studios football spain posters historical drama Horror transformers National Geographic Marvel Television joker japanese satire new york TBS Pride Month See It Skip It Sundance Trophy Talk Awards classics renewed TV shows FX Amazon Studios basketball parents justice league Image Comics feel good docudrama Epix The Academy El Rey streaming Comic Book zombies Heroines dogs ID social media spinoff Shondaland Alien Anna Paquin child's play fresh Quiz stoner olympics FXX Marathons TV One NBC CW Seed The Walking Dead werewolf Adult Swim canceled TV shows young adult Nickelodeon criterion 007 cartoon Awards Tour movie scary movies Classic Film chucky book adaptation Apple TV Plus Britbox franchise The Walt Disney Company Baby Yoda Comedy Central archives Warner Bros. medical drama women rom-coms TCA Syfy 72 Emmy Awards christmas movies razzies boxing RT History king arthur X-Men Mindy Kaling Rocketman Paramount HBO Max nfl doctor who Lucasfilm TCA 2017 strong female leads mcc IFC mockumentary 2021 TruTV Funimation HBO Go Rock 2019 jamie lee curtis YouTube Red cooking Mudbound stand-up comedy crime nature scorecard Country breaking bad Travel Channel DC Comics theme song latino rotten movies we love TV renewals CNN documentaries space Election live action Paramount Network jurassic park hispanic heritage month green book Bravo japan dc Sony Pictures Emmys 2016 gangster telelvision Valentine's Day comedies witnail New York Comic Con Hear Us Out Fantasy ratings Exclusive Video kong kids AMC LGBTQ halloween Star Wars pirates of the caribbean Hulu San Diego Comic-Con Endgame Mary poppins cars adaptation halloween tv ABC Signature disaster game show stop motion Brie Larson target