In Praise of “Breaking Bad”

Newsweek goes long on AMC’s Breaking Bad, and says “it’s the best program on TV, period.

Breaking Bad, which returns for its fourth season on July 17, is about a lot of things. The meth epidemic. The American Southwest. The trials of middle-class manhood. The failings of our health-care system. The various ways to shatter the windshield of a Pontiac Aztek. But at its core, it’s really about something more human, and more universal, than all that: the mysterious, all-too-common transformation that Cranston experienced, however briefly, that night in his apartment. It’s a show—an unpredictable, cinematic, potboiling, page-turner of a show—about how people become dangerous.

The key word is “become.” Since The Sopranos debuted a dozen years ago, the best characters on TV, from Deadwood’s Al Swearengen to Dexter’s eponymous serial killer, have been antagonistic protagonists—men and women who are neither wholly good nor wholly bad, but morally mixed up, like real people, and captivating for their complexity. At first glance, Walter White would seem to fit the voguish antihero mold. But unlike his cable counterparts, Walt started out a deeply sympathetic figure and then gradually morphed, over three seasons of escalating immorality, into an almost unrecognizable creep. In the beginning, he was cooking meth only so his family wouldn’t be destitute when he died. Now you’re not so sure.

I might not agree that it’s the best show on tv, period, but it’s certainly in the discussion.

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