Saturday, September 28, 2013

Appreciating "Breaking Bad" without Watching It

I have never seen an episode of "Breaking Bad." I'm not holding out in protest, nor do I feel any overwhelming desire to rush out and begin binge watching. I'm not keeping any high moral ground against violence on TV or trying to start a movement.

If someone forced me to watch it, I might indulge. A few years ago, a friend demanded that I sit through an episode of "Game of Thrones" and I really enjoyed it. Another friend dared me to sit through two episodes of "Mad Men" which I found rich, stirring, and elegant. In a way, I think both shows are works of art. "Breaking Bad" might be an even greater work, and there's also "Orange Is the New Black" as well as "House of Cards." There is so much great TV out there that I have a strange reaction to it: happiness that it's in the world without feeling the need to partake of it.

My reaction is partially due to living in New York City and having concerts, theatre, and indie movies to keep me occupied. It's partially due to the fact that I haven't consistently followed a TV series, game show, or video game, since I was in high school ("The Wire" being the one exception). My lack of actual TV watching is also due to the fact that when I have gaps of free time I'm either reading a book, writing a play, working on dharma. But more than all of those excuses, I almost feel like I don't need to watch "Breaking Bad" to get a hit off its buzz.

For me, "Breaking Bad" is like making coffee from scratch. I don't drink coffee. I do, however, love the feel of coffee beans. I enjoy the rich smell of grinding these beans into mix. Past roommates have indulged me in letting me watch them make coffee. The ritual is a beautiful thing. The cultural dynamics that revolve around coffee are fascinating. Once I ran into a man who was obsessed with it. He could explain all the variations, methods of grinding beans, the preparation of water, and the history. I was transfixed. As he spoke, I nodded, dreamed of coffee empires, and sipped my green tea.

Even though I've never seen so much as a minute of "Breaking Bad," I have read many essays, critiques, articles, and stories about it. I root for the lead actor, who I still think of as the Dad from 'Malcolm in the Middle."  It's exciting that people are talking about the issues of crystal meth's rampant spread through the country, White privilege, violence, and all themes the show brings up that are relevant in our lives. I feel as if I'm absorbed in just listening to the dialogue being stirred. I also know that many people consider the show to be glorification of drugs, misogyny, and violence. To both sides, I politely nod and take it all in like a Martian who has landed on earth and is being forced to watch "Divorce Court" and give an opinion.

I'm wondering if "Breaking Bad" will stay on the ever-growing list of critically acclaimed shows that I missed. So far the list includes:

1. Lost
2. Desperate Housewives
3. The Sopranos
4. Six Feet Under
5. Dexter (although I did watch a few minutes of a season finale)
6. Sex & the City (sat through an episode for a college health orientation)
7. Glee (watched an epsiode at the behest of a friend)
8. Walking Dead
9.  Homeland
10.  Sons of Anarchy
11. Rome
12. Deadwood
13. True Blood
14. Buffy, the Vampire Slayer
15. Downton Abbey
16. Boardwalk Empire
17. The Good Wife

Perhaps one year, I will set aside a summer and just plough through all of these shows. If I had to pick an order of priority it would be:

1. Breaking Bad
2. The Sopranos
3. Homeland
4. Orange is the New Black (there's still time for me to get on board)
5. House of Cards (still time to do this)
6. Six Feet Under
7. Boardwalk Empire
8. finish off the rest of Mad Men
9. Downton Abbey
10. Treme

Anyway, Sunday is "Breaking Bad." Apparently something very exciting is going to happen. I can't wait to read the essay on it.

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

Delightful! Glad I am not alone as I never got into:

LOST
The Sopranos
Deadwood
Game of Thrones

But BREAKING BAD is the shiznit! Although I will be shooting a scene from my webseries so I'll have to watch it Monday :)