Albuquerque, New Mexico. Walter White – a good husband, father and chemistry teacher – finds out he has lung cancer and starts producing methamphetamine with Jesse Pinkman, a former student, in order to save money for his family before dying. Breaking Bad is the journey of an ordinary man into the crazy world of drug dealing – a downward spiral into power, corruption and ultimately, evil.
Ever since The Godfather and The Sopranos (the former for movies, the latter for television) worldwide audiences are accustomed to the layered narration of the Mob through its peculiar and engaging plot twists, characters and themes: the constant struggle between good and evil, the lust for money and the escalation of violence – which often leads to self-destruction. Expanding them into universal moral conflicts – plus having the luxury to witness the journey without first-hand experience – turns into a healing, almost cathartic process for viewers’ unconscious need for escaping monotony. The show had such an echo – thanks to its in-depth writing and raw visual style – that Netflix decided to produce a spin-off series (Better Call Saul, with the Bob Odenkirk’s character as the protagonist) and a less solid movie as a follow-up to the original story in 2019 (El Camino).
Produced by AMC and created by Vince Gilligan (known for The X-files) who described it as a sociological experiment in an interview– he confessed that “lo and behold, people who were fans of the show were sympathetic to Walt no matter what he did, which is I think very interesting. So that to me, was at least part of the experiment” – it showcases the dry, deceptive acting of Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul and Giancarlo Esposito among others. A powerful antihero portrait (also seen in Taxi Driver, Scarface and later on in Narcos), a neo-western setting (No Country For Old Men) and a hint of Tarantino’s black comedy (Pulp Fiction) proved a winning formula, granting the show a total of 150 awards, and marking a new chapter in TV history.