Download: Why I Love Breaking Bad

BreakingBadMy favorite television program takes me deep into the mind of a monster, allowing me to follow along as he transforms from what appears to be a decent man into a sociopath. Breaking Bad has many strengths as an example of innovative and artistic television, including its brilliant use of visual and audio style, exemplary performances, and a compelling plot that consistently creates a craving for the next episode. But more than anything else, I love it because of its psychological complexity, crafting the character of Walter White, who is always changing yet feels consistent; whose motives are never made explicit but feel tantalizingly real; and who does horrible things but still makes me want to watch his story.

The pleasures of Breaking Bad are in the character’s journey, where we find ourselves uncomfortably in situations we’d rather not be in, aligned with an immoral criminal whom we remember as having once been decent and sympathetic. Thus I find myself loving Walter White, not as a person (even though I do personify him and grant him a more robust interior life than nearly any other fictional character I can think of) but as a character—I find his behavior, his arc, and his enactment by Bryan Cranston and the program’s production team endlessly fascinating. And as I write this, I eagerly await his final act as the series concludes this fall, uncertain of how to balance my desire for moral retribution against his crimes and my deep emotional connection to him.

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