Eight reasons Breaking Bad is the best show ever

Categories: Film and TV, Lists

Breaking-Bad.jpg
The final eight episodes of Breaking Bad will begin Sunday. Over the course of five seasons, the series has established itself not just as one of the best shows now on TV, but as one of the best ever -- maybe the best ever. On the eve of this final stretch, we decided to look back over the series as a whole and identify some of what made it so great (which also provided a good excuse to rewatch it all...). Before you sit down to catch the start of the final half-season (say, with a bunch of fellow fans at a Breaking Bad watch party at Sidewinder), take a minute to reflect on these eight reasons the show is such a brilliant tour de force. (Spoiler warning: There are more than a few plot details that you'll want to avoid if you aren't caught up on the entire show, so proceed at your own risk.)

See also:
- Event: Breaking Bad viewing party
- Breaking Bad's ten greatest scenes (so far)
- Fiend author Peter Stenson on the surprising similarities between tweakers and zombies

GLIDING OVER ALL SEASON 3 from Press Play Video Blog on Vimeo.

Albuquerque, New Mexico
With its mix of wide-open vistas and sketchy industrial parks, Albuquerque and the surrounding desert have become as much a part of the show as blue meth and Walt's hubris. Beautiful and bleak by turns, just like the show set there, Albuquerque has revealed itself to be the ideal setting over the course of five seasons. Of course, a lot of the credit for that goes to cinematographer Michael Slovis, who's managed to capture all of the area's majesty and squalor and translate it to the screen. You don't have to notice the surroundings to enjoy the show, but once you do it becomes abundantly clear that they contribute significantly to its greatness.

Montage
Breaking Bad makes more frequent use of montage than anything this side of an '80s comedy film. Whether it's cooking meth or slinging it, or even prison murders, the show has used montages to help control the pace and flow of episodes, allowing them to both show minute detail and big swathes of time in the same episode. Plus, most of them were set to fantastic music. If the montage sees a renaissance in the next few years, you'll be able to thank Breaking Bad for sparking it.

Humor
It can be hard to remember from time to time, what with all the murdering and meth slinging and tension-fraught drama, but Breaking Bad can be a damn funny show. It's throttled things back from the black comedy-laced first season, which frequently seemed to mine its situations for the darkest possible humor, but the show still manages to hit just enough humorous notes to keep things from getting too bleak. From the inspired casting of Bob Odenkirk as the sleazebag lawyer Saul to little visual gags like the infamous pizza on the roof, Breaking Bad offers more laughs than any show about the making and unmaking of a murderous meth kingpin has any right to.

Victor.jpg
They call this "starting with a bang"

Beginnings and endings
If you start strong and finish strong, it frequently hardly matters what the hell you do in between. Not that Breaking Bad's mid-season episodes are ever less than stellar, but it's mastered the art of strong season premieres and finales. It's hard to go wrong with seasons that are bracketed by episodes like the pilot and "A No-Rough-Stuff-Type Deal," much less "Box Cutter" and "Face Off." It would be an exaggeration to say that all of the show's best episodes are its season openers and closers, but they are all among the best. Of course, the creators still have to stick the landing, but seeing the work they've done so far wrapping up individual seasons, it's not hard to believe they will.


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33 comments
Mark White
Mark White

but meth will never be acceptable... only on TV... glorification of this vice is totally unacceptable...

Bradley Crable
Bradley Crable

No need to miss it with torrents! I got seasons 1-5.... KAT!

Yerch
Yerch

I love the show, but have to disagree on the "believability" factor.  From the gun-slinging Mexican twins, to the guy who went nuts every time he did meth off a knife, to the entire premise that 95% pure meth is somehow so much better than 90% pure (remember Jesse's temp replacement?) that anyone would spare Walt's life for five seconds, etc, the show strains credulity too far and too often.  Ask yourself why Walt is the most wanted man in America within hours of Hank's death?  Nobody but Skyler and Marie know he's a meth kingpin at that point and they are still hoping Hank's alive.  So why does the entire DEA show up in response to Flynn's domestic disturbance call?  It's fantastic character drama but from the beginning about 90% of the show has been hopelessly far fetched.  That's just not pure enough for best show ever.  That title will always belong to the Wire.

Sean Gronbeck
Sean Gronbeck

I guess if you like meth heads. I'll stick to watching fox news.

Lyn Wheaton
Lyn Wheaton

It makes us consider what we maight or might not do if driven to that point of desperation. It delves deeply into the human pysche.

Glen Eastwood
Glen Eastwood

It is a fantastic show but still doesn't beat the Wire.

Alex B Gummer
Alex B Gummer

I guess depends on how into realize you are, because the wire is real.

Travis Fowler
Travis Fowler

The Wire is amazing never thought i would say it but i think breaking bad may be better

Alex B Gummer
Alex B Gummer

First you must watch The Wire before you get any respect points for a Breaking Bad Opinion.

Stephen Serna
Stephen Serna

Andrew Lawrence White, touché. Like I need to watch more TV.

Andrew Lawrence White
Andrew Lawrence White

Stephen Serna, obviously you've never seen "The Wire". It buries "The Sopranos".

Jarrod J. Perrott
Jarrod J. Perrott

I agree with Stephen. Breaking Bad is good, but has nothing on The Sopranos.

Harry
Harry

Deadwood sucked.

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

It's pretty damn good, but best ever?  I'm saying it was "Deadwood" as a series.  

NickatNight
NickatNight

@Sean Gronbeck  

I'm confused. Meth Heads = Fox News. I.e. paranoid white trash

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

@Harry Ah gee Harry, did they use too big of words for you?

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