My own thoughts on Breaking Bad

I’m excited right now because I recorded the first 3 episodes of 
Breaking Bad last night and I’m gonna watch them later on.  AMC 
is running the whole series late at night again in anticipation 
of the season 4 premiere.  They’re doing 3 episodes a night every 
night until July 17.  That day is basically Breaking Bad Day in 
my mind.  Some people think of that as Harry Potter Weekend but 
not me.  I’ll definitely go see the Harry Potter movie but Breaking 
Bad has my heart.  

I saw at Target last night that they have the first 2 seasons in 
a combo pack thing for $30.  I think I might get it when I find $30.  
I just get really inspired by that show.  It makes me want to write.  
It makes me excited about the possibilities of writing.  It’s 
consistently brilliant and highly watchable.  

Not long ago, in my own private computer journal, I tried to decipher 
why exactly I am drawn so tightly into the show.  The premise is 
interesting but I’d heard the premise for a while before I started 
watching and it didn’t sound like something I’d get that into.  And 
it’s a darker show than I normally like to get obsessed with.

I settled on thinking that the great appeal for me has to do with 
the excellent character writing as well as the acting.  I’ve heard 
that when the writers get together in the writers’ room they try 
to really get into the heads of the characters and figure out where 
they are and what they’re thinking.  And then they write the stories 
out of that.  So everything comes straight out of the characters 
making decisions and being themselves.  And this is really the most 
satisfying way to write stories in my opinion.  If you as the audience 
can connect to the humans being portrayed in whatever you’re watching 
and the humans seem so real that they seem like people you would meet 
if you walked down your street, the characters have the potential to 
be infinitely richer.  The Breaking Bad writers know their characters 
so well and they let the stories flow from who those people are.  You 
are watching exceedingly well defined characters making decisions that 
fit who they are, and that makes the viewing experience so much more 
enjoyable.  I don’t know why but the more fictitious characters behave 
the way they’re supposed to, the easier it is to just fall right in 
and believe that whatever’s happening really is happening.  

I think of Breaking Bad as a show about people we’re all obsessed 
with these days.  Walter White seems like a guy CNN would learn about 
and then devote days of coverage to his crazy story.  But instead of 
hearing about it on cable news we get to watch it all unfold as it’s 
happening.  We don’t hear the spin, we just see the “real” events and 
we have to decide for ourselves if whatever he’s doing is right or 
wrong.  And it seems the further he goes the more flat out wrong he is.  
And we’re so conditioned as TV viewers to root for our main characters 
that watching one transform into a bad guy before our eyes is just the 
weirdest emotional experience.  That’s where the show plays by its own 
rules.  We are trained to expect redemption.  We expect TV characters 
to learn lessons (except on Seinfeld, of course).  But Walter White is 
a slow car crash of morality.  And we love that kind of stuff.
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