September 21, 2011

Signs you are addicted to a television show

Maybe it's because I'm actually following it as it happens, or maybe it's because I really believe it. Either way, here goes: Breaking Bad is the best show on television in the past 10 years. At least.*

*Yes. This includes the Wire. I'll admit that Breaking Bad isn't quite as dense as The Wire — David Simon is a master of creating beautifully interwoven plot layers that stack up and then come down so neatly. It lives and breathes a city. Breaking Bad is not that show, and I might argue it is better for it. Breaking Bad is about the plot, sure, but the characters are deeper. We know each and every one of them so much better.

Again, I am saying it is so good and that might be because I am watching it in real time. I get so giddy on Sunday nights when I know the show is going to be on. I didn't feel that way about The Wire, but that's because I was watching it all at once, and also because I cheated and looked up spoilers on Wikipedia so I could understand what the hell was going on.

On Sunday nights, though, I text people in real time about the show. (OK, I text one person.) Two weeks ago, I sent Econ this series of messages:

"Shit. Hank is on to something!"
"Walter's kind of an asshole sometimes."
"Gus is badass."

Then, this weekend:
"Oh goddamit. Walt made Skylar look like the bad guy again."

His response:
"Yeah, well she gave away $620k of cash to spite him, so... Well call it even"

Those don't make a lick of sense if you don't watch the show, and I apologize. But it says something about one's devotion to a television show when he is exasperatedly texting his friends about the goings-on of said show in real time.

That's the point of television dramas, I suppose, but if that's the case then why aren't more like this? And why have so many of them been relegated to cable?*

*No, I don't actually watch said shows on TV, but that's a different argument.

I thought I would throw that out for discussion. But whatever the reason, I know one thing for sure: I want to be like Mike.

And yes, you really WILL have to watch the show to even begin to understand what this means and why.

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Blogger Fr. Mark Perkins said...

I just recently watched all of the writer's-strike-shortened season 1. It was very good, and I definitely want to watch more (though that will probably have to wait till Christmas break). But it was not great and suffered from some serious shortcomings, I thought.

But. From what I understand, it makes a giant leap in season 2.

September 21, 2011 at 2:53 AM 
Blogger Daniel Silliman said...

It's a great show, and I like it a lot, tho. you're wrong about it being better than The Wire.

Chuck Klosterman agrees with you, but he's wrong too.

BUT, the more interesting thing about the show is the moral order of its universe.

See: Pinkman's speach last week about consequences, where he says somethjing like "if you can just do stuff and nothing happens, what does it all mean?"

That's the biggest difference with Mad Men, Sapronos, The Wire, etc., where it's never clear that anyone gets their due, and "what it means" is either "nothing," or, "the world is fucked up."

The heroes of this are still anti-heroes, but bad stuff happens to bad people.

September 21, 2011 at 4:36 AM 
Blogger Chase said...

I'm about to start Breaking Bad, actually, as soon as I finish up Louie C.K.. There was a great interview with one of the actors on Fresh Air yesterday that basically sealed the deal (and I love Terry Gross).

At any rate. We'll see. I'm interested to compare the two in more ways than plot.

September 21, 2011 at 9:14 AM 
Blogger JHitts said...

I think there's something to be said for being hooked on a show as it's coming out. I know LOST did the same for many people. I haven't watched it yet... I may get around to it one of these days, but I doubt it will be the same as those who watched the show and talked about it amongst themselves as it was happening; those who had no idea what was going on.

When you get behind on a show, or start watching an older show that others have recommended to you, sometimes it's hard to get into it so much. Mostly because you just want to hurry up and watch the whole thing so you'll have something to talk about with the people who recommended it to you. For instance, a few weeks ago I accidentally gave something away to Chase about Mad Men. Not a major plot point, but something sort of important. I felt really bad.

When everyone is watching a new show together there's no risk of playing "spoiler" to the uninitiated, so everything is fresh.

What this all really boils down to is, I might not feel like Breaking Bad is better than The Wire when the show finally ends, but I certainly feel that way right now, as I am in the moment.

September 21, 2011 at 8:30 PM 
Blogger JHitts said...

Also, here's that Chuck Klosterman piece Dan was referring to. I agreed with him at the time, but on re-reading it I think I agree with him for different reasons than he gives.

September 21, 2011 at 8:31 PM 
Blogger Daniel Silliman said...

I agree with the in-the-moment thing. I felt that way about Mad Men.

September 22, 2011 at 4:56 AM 
Blogger Fr. Mark Perkins said...

Same for me with LOST. In hindsight it's not that good of a show, but at the time--especially freshman year watching season 2 on a weekly basis--it was fantastic.

September 22, 2011 at 3:23 PM 

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