Breaking Bad Never Got Me Addicted

At the risk of having serious television fans throw things at my head, I have to confess I’ve never seen a full-episode of Breaking Bad. I know, I know! Listen, I love Bryan Cranston as much as the next person. I liked the first few seasons of Mad Men so it wasn’t an AMC phobia that kept me away from it. Although the old movie queen in me misses the Bob Dorian days. No, oddly enough this drug addict couldn’t never really get excited about the concept.

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Maybe it’s like doctors who don’t watch Grey’s Anatomy or chefs who can’t stand Food Network. But I was never intrigued enough by the premise of the show to tune in. Granted, I never made my own drugs or even sold drugs for that matter. Okay I made flavored vodka once with Green Apple Jolly Ranchers but it was disgusting and hardly an enterprise idea to pay for my cancer treatments. As a user and frequent customer, the idea of a drug dealer/family man I guess should have been an interesting one. Perhaps the 4 mind-numbingly bad seasons of Weeds that I watched turned me off from drug dealer tv shows. Or maybe it’s because on some level as a connoisseur I know that television could never capture the real-life sketchiness of the drugs dealers I have known. (Reminder: Pitch ‘Drug Dealers I Have Known’ as a coffee table book.) I never ever, once bought weed from somebody who looked like Mary Louise Parker. They usually looked more like Mexican versions of Al Roker and the guy I bought meth from I never actually saw. He was like Carlton the doorman. We’d call and someone, not him, would run it out to the car. Still, I feel like I’m missing out on something. The oddest assortment of people I know love this show. From bank employees and actors to retirees and teachers and beyond, everybody loves it. Everybody but me. It could be the drug dealer thing but I also don’t like watching shows about assholes.

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That early 2000’s trend of building an entire television show around reprehensible awful people seems bland to me now. Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Dexter and countless more pounded us over the head with this “Hey aren’t we subversive by having a polarizing character as the lead?” Um, no. It’s titillating  a couple of times but when every show has a drug dealer, hooker, heroin addict, gun smuggler then it becomes boring.  Personally if I hate every character, I’m less likely to want to spend an entire hour with them every week. I worried that Breaking Bad would just make me feel yucky instead of actually caring about what happened to the Walter White.  And don’t give me the “Well, what about Seinfeld?” argument. Seinfeld was a comedy and laughed at the worst of humanity. Plus, Jerry and the gang always got theirs in the end. And oh yeah, Seinfeld was genius.

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In reality, my aversion to the show might have more to do with timing more than anything else. The show premiered in January 2008, the first year I really tried to get sober. By ‘really tried’ I don’t mean going to rehab or even meetings. This stab at sobriety consisted of smoking a lot of cigarettes and watching endless marathons of Real Housewives (a program I also no longer watch due to the high asshole factor.) Just watching people even drink wine or do blow on television was tough back then. It was like having your jaw wired shut and being forced to watch people eat Thanksgiving dinner. Staying away from Breaking Bad might have been more strategic at that point than anything else. Not surprisingly, this fragile time on the sobriety merry-go-round didn’t last. breaking-bad-all-characters

Being sober for over four years and with my days of  dealing with dealers long behind me, maybe I’ll finally catch up with Breaking Bad. Or maybe not. Now that it’s all over, I feel like I’ve missed the party. Which is okay. For a pop culture junkie like me, television addictions are picked up and let go with regularity.

But friends am I missing something? Is Breaking Bad worth watching? And what other shows are you addicted to? And what show does everybody love but you? Tell me in the comments section below!

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15 thoughts on “Breaking Bad Never Got Me Addicted

  1. I am with you. My family is addicted to BB. My family has never BEEN addicted to anything in their lives (I am talking the people who live in my house, my Nuclear Family. My family tree has an addict on every branch and an alcoholic on every leaf) I had a REALLY hard time with the early shows that reminded me of how sketchy my cohorts were and what an idiot I was. People die and dealers are dangerous: true. All too True. Friends go to prison and get out 5 years later shattered. I kept watching thinking there would surely be some socially redeeming aspect to the show. Talking with people who love BB about their bizarre addiction I have come to realize that they have never used,never dealt, never almost died, have never been connected to this reality. They think it is blown out of proportion and sensationalized. No. It is really and it is dark and it is dangerous and people die. No one believes me and as I am in Assimilation Mode (wearing a disguise in my stay at home mom world) I can not take these people by the shoulders and yell at them, “NO you F**king Idiot! This is REAL! Jesse is not MADE UP! He lives off Colfax or next door. His life WILL be totally destroyed and nothing good will come of this!” I can’t out myself (as it were) to the moms of my sons friends. No. I can’t. Breaking Bad is some of the most real TV I have ever seen and the most disturbing. I think you had to have been there to get it: there are no screenwriters: only ex addicts and dealers telling stories over a beer or a bump or two. Meth as Pop Culture. Wo. We are sinking fast.

    • That’s exactly it, Jen! To trivialize something as devastating and horrible as meth seems gross. and wrong. And above all not entertaining! For those of us who have lived it and seen it “live”, sitting around the TV and watching it has zero appeal.

  2. I tried to watch “Airline,” that reality show about Southwest, but ran to the TV to turn it off after five minutes; it felt like going to work, only worse. You might be on to something…

    (and then my dad loved Hill Street Blues in its day.)

    • I felt that way about The Restaurant when I waited tables, ‘cuz. It was like “why spend my time watching something I do all day?” I guess that’s why I like Nashville and RuPaul’s Drag Race. I can’t sing or walk in heels so I find those things amazing.

  3. Hi Sean, I guess you won’t be watching the BB finale, huh? I won’t either. I couldn’t make it through the first season, but because of the lung cancer story line, not the drugs. As you were facing your first year clean & sober, my aunt and mom were both undergoing chemo and the first couple of shows I watched were just too hard to get through.

    Maybe I’ll watch it at some point when my Netflix queue is lonely. BB does have great music!

    I’m hooked on Game of Thrones, and semi-hooked on Homeland. My guiltiest pleasure? Shameless. Which I shouldn’t like, given my drinking past, but it’s so damn funny–and serious in all the right moments.

    Never enjoyed Survivor or Fear Factor though. Eating spiders and playing politics, gag, ick!!!

    Lots of love,
    Christy

    • Hello Christy!
      Interesting you brought up Shameless. We watch that too! But it’s so ridiculous and cartoonish that even though it deals with heavy stuff, the storytelling is incredibly exaggerated. Plus Joan Cusack is a goddess! And the rest of the cast is very funny. I will admit William H. Macy’s character hits close to home at times and is intensely unlikeable. So is liking Shameless and not watching BB hypocritical? Maybe. Guess I’d have to watch BB to make a real judgement call.
      Yeah I don’t do Survivor anymore. But I do love Top Chef and Project Runway. Comedies like Modern Family, Community and Mindy Project are sort of my happy place shows too.
      hearts,
      s.

  4. I jokingly tweeted the other day about being probably one of three people who hasn’t watched the show. It seems everyone has been talking about this like it was the last episode of M*A*S*H or the choosing of a new pope. I haven’t watched a second of it. I don’t even know what it’s about. Perhaps that is because I rarely watch TV. Not because I am some elitist snob (I enjoy a good bad show, if you know what I mean), but I just haven’t been interested. I think Dexter was the last show that I was into, but that petered out in season 3 or 4 (can’t recall). I am very much out of the loop when it comes to TV and movies (having two small kids will do that to you). I hang around the internet perhaps as my distraction…youtube, etc. I think it’s because I get to choose whatever it is I want to watch and get it immediately…lol.

    You’re right about the chef’s not watching Food Network (I am a chef), etc. I don’t think I can watch a movie or show about an alcoholic…I have had enough cringe-worthy moments in my life without having to watch one in front of me. I don’t think my wife would enjoy it either. I think there is something to what you said about the cheering on of the disenfranchised, the maligned, the left fielders….those who skirt and easily break the law. Where we used to escape into silliness like Soap or Sanford and Son. we get murderers, thugs, mafia, etc. I get it, in that many can’t relate, so it’s fascinating. But I am not cut of that cloth. I am probably more sensitive in my recovery now…and age.

    Great post.

    Paul

    • Hey Paul!
      I get it for sure. I like to fully escape. Hello I’m an alcoholic and drug addict who wanted to grow up to be either a Muppet or Wonder Woman. Meth land sounds like a crappy escape to me. So glad you brought up SOAP! That was a brilliant show. 70’s shows had this sly way of being silly and dealing with heavy stuff without viewers even noticing. And I’m the same way as far as being sensitive the older I get. Nothing about negativity, which includes the news and screaming talking heads, is entertaining to me anymore.
      Thanks for popping by!
      – Sean

    • Hey there! You bring up an excellent point that touches on my perhaps bigger problem with Breaking Bad. I tend not to like shows that everyone drools over and I generally stay away when something is so ridiculously overhyped. Media snobbery? Perhaps. But I find nothing ever lives up to the hype so rather than be disappointed, I pass.

  5. Sean,
    Great post. As a recovering addict myself, I must admit that I hesitated to watch Breaking Bad because I didn’t want to be thrown in a world that I have known for many years. But a few weeks back, I took a leap of faith. truth be told, I was bored, I didn’t have anything to watch, so I gave BB a chance. I ended up watching the 62 episodes in three weeks, because I suck like that. I recognize a world I did leave behind, but I wasn’t repulse by it: the quality of the writing, the acting, and Bryan Cranston’s iconic Walter White mesmerized me. Hands down, one of the best shows I have watched.

    But.

    Six Feet Under remains my own personal favourite. If only Alan Ball would have brought some of his exquisite writing to True Blood
    Le Clown

    • Well perhaps I should give it a chance. Lots of awesome folks echo your sentiments. And they do have it on Netflix. I’m currently trying this whole “reading a book” thing. Crazy. But I’m really loving it! I was a book nerd as a child and I think I’m getting back to that place.
      Agreed on Six Feet Under and True Blood. WTF happened there? Such a goofy and poorly acted show. Although I’m sure if given the chance and enough boredom I could get hooked on True Blood too. Cause I’m just that kind of junkie.
      anywhooo, thanks for dropping by!
      – Sean

      • Sean,
        True Blood has frequent appearances by a shirtless Alexander Skarsgård. As for reading, does it come in television show format?
        Le Clown

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