Breaking Bad, Bidding Farewell

As we all recover from the end of Breaking Bad, I find myself still trying to figure out how to process the show’s meaning and somehow to conceptualize the show’s greatness in comparison to others. When I sit down to think about it, I am a little surprised but not exactly embarrassed by how much I like television. When it comes down to it, what I really love is narrative and we certainly live in the waning period of the golden age of long-form television drama.

It is simple, I like when people tell me a story. Tell it with “Swamp”.

There is something seductive about a consuming narrative; there is something positively dangerous about one that pulls you outside of yourself and helps you learn more not just about your own life, but about what it means to be a person and to live a good life. As I have viewed the last season of Breaking Bad, I have reflected on this (my wife hadn’t watched any of it a month ago; we watched the entire series in an insane three-episode a night orgy). My favorite shows have been consuming and entertaining, but they have also made me think about my life and the lives of others more deeply.

Although I have admitted before that there is something false and distorting about ranking and list-making, I can’t deny that the practice is somewhat useful. So, as the rupture of Breaking Bad’s end remains raw and tender and before its loss can be felt or put into proper perspective, let me try to fit it in to my own personal pantheon of television.

Sex and X-Files? Where can I sign up?

I actually started this process a few months back in the comments discussing the HBO series Game of Thrones. Here’s my first attempt to list my favorite television shows of all time.

  1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (I roll Angel into this entry as well. Suck it)
  2. Battlestar Galactica
  3. Six Feet Under
  4. The Wire
  5. Sopranos
  6. Band of Brothers
  7. Game of Thrones
  8. Arrested Development (f the newest season made it deeper)
  9. The X-Files (Probably should be higher, but the last season was awful)
  10. Eureka (Shouldn’t be on the list, but the first two seasons were so good)
  11.  * Homeland (Don’t know where it fits: it could be top three or drop out of the top ten depending on next season)

Here’s what was shocking about the list at the time: I completely forgot about Breaking Bad. In this list, the top three are really close. The top five were all shows that I eagerly awaited each week. All 10 on the list have in common the fact that they are no longer airing except for Game of Thrones In retrospect, and based on the brilliance of the final season, the weakness of the last season of Game of Thrones, and the continued excellence of Homeland, here is my edited list:

  1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer 
  2. Six Feet Under
  3. Battlestar Galactica
  4. Breaking Bad
  5. The Wire
  6. Sopranos
  7. Band of Brothers
  8. Homeland
  9. Game of Thrones
  10. Arrested Development (f the newest season made it deeper)
  11. The X-Files (Probably should be higher, but the last season was awful)

The top four shows are really close. The Wire should be higher, but I really don’t like the last season. BSG is probably too high, but I never awaited a weekly episode of a show so eagerly (or talked so avidly about each new episode with so many people). Everyone I know will question the position of Buffy but those who really know the show will understand. To make some sense of my taste and to indulge my own sense of debate a little more, I should elaborate by including even more shows.

Shows that almost made the list and deserve mention:

  1. The Walking Dead (Still a bit too inconsistent)
  2. Twin Peaks (I didn’t watch this when it aired)
  3. Carnivale (Great first-season; incomplete afterward)
  4. Deadwood (Ended too soon; lost focus)
  5. Warehouse 13 (The latest season was not so good)
  6. Stargate Universe (this show didn’t have long enough to develop)
  7. Freaks and Geeks (should be higher, much higher; but it didn’t even have a full season)
  8. Firefly (same quandary as Freaks and Geeks. BUt that last episode, “Objects in Space”, was fantastic.u
  9. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (a good show, abandoned too soon)
  10. Heroes (a great first two seasons, then, crap. crap crap.)
  11. Dexter (Brilliant first three seasons; trash thereafter)
  12. Jericho (should be higher; too short; I re-watched it more than anything but BSG and Buffy. But there is something politically off about it)
  13. Lost (a great ride that got a little stupid at the end. Ok, a lot stupid)

Buffy can sing too.

4 comments on “Breaking Bad, Bidding Farewell

  1. T.A. Gerolami says:

    Hmm. Not sure I could do a ranked list like this, but I’ve only even seen on your’s:

    Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, The Wire, Sopranos, Game of Thrones, The X-Files, Deadwood, Stargate SG-1, Firefly, Jericho, Lost, and of those, the only one I saw every episode of was The Wire. I agree that last season really hurt it bad.

    I’m not a very good TV watcher.

    • theelderj says:

      I think that not being a good TV watcher is probably to your favor in the larger picture. I am kind of shocked that I can rattle off all those shows and speak about them so passionately.

      But, then again, aren’t we in the golden age of uninformed passionate opinion?

      • T.A. Gerolami says:

        Hey, I watch something like 200 movies a year, it’s not like I’m doing something high brow with that time…

  2. […] used to waste entire days watching and rewatching the same television shows only to shake off my soporific sorrow in the mid afternoon to stumble into a gym. I would fake my […]

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