Anghus Houvouras talks Breaking Bad...
Few shows ever accomplish the kind of success
that Breaking Bad has. Some proudly declare it to be a crowning
achievement for the small screen, a prime example of this 'golden age'
of television we're now living in. Further proof that dark corners and
irredeemable characters are better left explored on the small screen
where the narrative has room to tunnel and lacks the constraints of the
Even ten years ago a show like Breaking Bad
would seem almost unthinkable. There have been difficult shows on
television before, even ones that generated a lot of words due to their
dark and violent nature. Something like HBO's Oz immediately springs to
mind. But no one was dressing up like Augustus Hill for Halloween or
flooding DeviantArt.com with portraits of a Vernon Schillinger.
And what surprises me more than anything on the show itself is the fact that I just never liked it all that much.
tried. Oh how I tried. I wasn't a Breaking Bad early adopter. I
wasn't there from day one. Like many of you I read the critical praise
and heard friends telling me about what an amazing experience the show
was. By the time I got on board there were three seasons filling up my
Netflix Instant Queue. And as I watched the pilot, I kept waiting for
that hook. That moment that pulled me into this story and made me eager
to find out what happened next. But that moment never came. There was
a moment, when the acid burns through the second floor bathroom and a
melted corpse plummets to the floor below. At that moment I thought
"why am I not enjoying this?"
I have no issues with graphic
violence. To the contrary, I rather enjoy it. On paper, this show
checked every box. In the execution, i found it woefully lacking. I
never found a character to root for. Certainly not Walt, who always
seemed like a sociopath. Even a loving family and the looming threat of
cancer couldn't warm me up to him. And Jesse was comic relief early on
but inaccessible as a human being. Hank could have been a character I
rooted for, but everything in the early narrative kept telling me I
should be pulling for Walt. He's the tragic everyman in an impossible
situation. I should be sympathizing with him, butIi never did.
Subsequent seasons proved me right. Walt was never the hero. Nor was
he the anti-hero so many claimed him to be.
was a show without a hero. You were either an antagonist or a victim.
It's certainly not the first show to embrace that notion, but it may
have been the most fearless in its assertion of a bitter world
populated only with the horrible and the disenfranchised.
that part of me that always feels regret for 'not getting it'. When a
show comes along that seizes people's attention and gets so many
talking, you feel the need to be involved in the conversation. I
invested a lot of time in Breaking Bad just to engage in discussions
about Breaking Bad, in spite of caring so little about the show. I
never attached to Walt like I did to Tony Sorprano or Don Draper. The
supporting cast seemed so sleight compared to Walt. Merely stock
players to sell the drama given handicaps and pregnancies to increase
the concentration of tragedy. Violence turned up to a comically
laughable level. Watching Gus half blown to hell packing the emotional
wallop of watching Daffy Duck getting shot in the face by Elmer Fudd.
as the show comes to it's inevitable conclusion, I find myself wishing
it meant more. Instead of a collection of lost souls all resigned to a
rather horrible fate. No one is walking away clean. There is no
redemption for the damned. The show started out with melancholy and
will end with morbidity. A toxic blend of drama and violence that got
everybody talking, even though it managed to say very little.
This was one bad habit I'll have no trouble kicking.
Anghus Houvouras is a North Carolina based writer and filmmaker. His latest work, the novel My Career Suicide Note, is available from Amazon.