Skip to main content

is "breaking bad" breaking bad history?

source
if you're friends with me on facebook, you probably know that i have an ongoing thing called "sunday
quiz time", where i just ask random questions to my friends and often get very interesting answers. it's a little more intermittent than it used to be, but i still love getting the responses, so i've been trying to keep it going.

if you live in north america and, i suspect, anywhere else in the world where you're exposed to american popular culture, you'll be aware that the amc show "breaking bad" is ending tonight.

i haven't watched it, ever, because i haven't yet succumbed to the twenty-first century and gotten a netflix account and amc isn't part of my cable package. i am curious to see the show, because i've heard it's a writer's fantasy, where cautious, constrained scripting and deliberate character development is king. it's the kind of thing that never happens in popular entertainment, because the last thing that that anyone who counts is interested in is writing. [if i'm wrong and you hate it, don't correct me. i'll find out on my own time, but for the moment i'd like to cling to the idea that good writing can still count for something.]

but despite my own ignorance of the show, i couldn't help being inundated by the talk about what's going to happen in the grand finale. so i chose the following as today's "sunday quiz time" question :

"what is the greatest t.v. show finale of all time?"



the clear winner- pretty much the only one to receive multiple votes, was "newhart".



there were, of course, many responses, but what struck me among the comedy classics and sci-fi/ fantasy favourites, there was one thing notably missing: dramas. in fact, the only one to make the list was "the sopranos" and any television fan will tell you that raising the series shocking final moments in conversation is way more controversial than talking religion or politics.



i have a strict "no dissing other people's choices" policy on "sunday quiz time", but i know for a fact that i have friends who fall into the "unfettered brilliance" and "utter bullshit" camps.

when you look at virtually every other dramatic series that has captured popular attention, particularly since television has [almost] eclipsed film as the destination for quality in "serious" entertainment, what you hear most often is that by the time it's reached the end of its run, the show had overstayed its welcome. ["dexter" ended last week, its producers knowing better than to try to go head-to-head with the "breaking bad" steamroller. how much discussion did you hear about that? i plan on forcing myself to watch the final season at some point, but it's not something i'm looking forward to. you can read more about that here.]

on the contrary, people are amped for the "breaking bad" finale, in a way that i've only seen once before for a dramatic series- "the sopranos". with writers ratcheting up the tension in recent weeks and two of the show's stars, bryan cranston and anna gunn, describing the ending as "apocalyptic" at last week's emmy awards, there's a distinct possibility that this could be the series that defies history and provides a satisfying conclusion for its die-hard fans. or perhaps it'll just go for something tortuous, as "the sopranos" did. [he died, people. he was killed and you're seeing it from his perspective.] [so you say -ed.]

what's even more interesting, to me at least, is that "breaking bad" seems poised to drive the final nail in the coffin of film as the medium of "serious" writers and producers. after all, the series [and no, i haven't seen it, but i know enough about it to make this statement] is really about the boundaries of morality, which is a pretty heavy subject to tackle. and it's the sort of thing that film studios, who increasingly need bigger and bigger returns to make their investment worthwhile, just can't afford to take on. a reporter on cnn this morning pointed out that michael j. fox's new sitcom got more viewer's than "breaking bad" last week, but you wouldn't know that from the frenzy that's happening on line. i have a feeling no one is going to be talking about episode two of "the michael j. fox show" tomorrow over the water cooler. and it's even less likely that anyone will be discussing any of the films that are about to be released as part of "oscar season".

that's right. in case you'd forgotten, the autumn is when all the pictures that are supposed to represent the year's greatest accomplishments are supposed to come out, but nothing, nothing has commanded the sort of rapt attention that the "breaking bad" finale has. because audiences are discovering that having a vehicle that gives you years to get to know characters and care about them and that allows tension to build over weeks and months has the potential to be so much more powerful than something that condenses the experience into a couple of hours.

so godspeed you, "breaking bad". i will get around to watching you soon, probably binging on an entire season at a time or something crazy like that. in the meantime, there's no pressure. i'm just thinking that you might reverse a fifty year-old tide of disappointment in bringing dramas to a close and eclipse the movie industry in quality if you do things right.

no big thing.

Comments

as long as you're here, why not read more?

long division

after the united states election last year, there were the usual calls for the country to unite behind the new president. that never happens anymore, because, since george w. bush scored a victory in 2004, having launched the country into a war in iraq for no reason, the people on the losing side of a presidential election have been pretty bloody angry about it. democrats hated bush 43. republicans really hated obama. democrats really hate trump.

it didn't help that trump didn't make the typical conciliatory gestures like including a couple of members of the opposite party in his cabinet, or encouraging his party to proceed slowly with contentious legislation. barack obama arguably wasted at least two and as many as six years of his tenure as president trying to play peacemaker before he felt sufficiently safe to just say "screw you guys" and start governing around the ridiculous congress he was forced to deal with. not-giving-a-shit obama was the best president in …

making faces :: i could maybe not buy this one thing

i've been into makeup on some level for a long time- much longer than i've been writing about it, for certain. even as a young woman, i loved the feeling of i got from applying a deep-hued lipstick and some mascara. it took years for me to figure out eyeshadow, and even longer for me to appreciate blush. but at this point, i think we can agree that i'm pretty much into the whole gamut. [except liquid and super-matte lipsticks, and most very sparkly eyeshadows. but that's because they're painful for me to wear.]

the thing about spending a long time collecting and holding onto just about everything is that you accumulate quite a stash. lately, i'm trying to force myself to think about what i already have before laying down money for something new. most recently, i found myself drawn to the modern renaissance palette from anastasia. me and a lot of people. by the time i started thinking about it, it was already sold out in my local sephora and online. i signed up…

...and my cup size is none of your damn business

this story, about a man who got a female coworker to trade email accounts with him for two weeks to see if he could see a difference in customer reactions, has been making the rounds on social media and beyond in the last week or so. earlier today, i posted it on my personal facebook page about it, and realised that i had a lot more that i wanted to share than made sense for a facebook post. so i've come here to rant.

a couple of things to start:

1. i've had some really good job experiences in my life. i'm both lucky and unlucky that the best of them came early on, but even in more recent years, i worked at a couple of places that treated workers, all workers, with respect. that respect can be expressed in different ways, but believe me, you know it when it's there. so i want to make it clear that #notallworkplaces fit the pattern i'm about to describe.

2. i am really, really, really grateful to martin r. schneider, who thought up and did this experiment, not just …