Good riddance to Breaking Bad

Colby Cosh on why Walter White will not be missed

by Colby Cosh

Ursula Coyote / AMC

Breaking Bad lost me in season 2. We fell out over a small thing, perhaps, but it irked me, and I never could shake it. Season 2 of AMC’s acclaimed drama series, you may recall, ends after the meth-dealing protagonist, Walter White, deliberately allows his sidekick’s junkie girlfriend to die from aspirating vomit. This creates a frightful butterfly effect when the girlfriend’s grieving, distracted air-traffic-controller dad suffers what the crash-investigation hotshots call a “loss of situational awareness” on the job. Two airplanes collide in mid-air over the series’ picturesque setting of Albuquerque, N.M., punctuating Walt’s descent into evil with a deluge of aluminum scraps, loose luggage and body parts.

It is not the world’s best argument against building a secret business empire on one’s talent as a synthesizer of super-pure crystal meth. There was certainly a time when a flaky controller could cause a mid-air collision over U.S. soil—a time before modern transponders and warning systems, before civil and military radio communications were unified, and before strict rules were adopted separating small planes operating under “visual flight rules” from big ones. Basically, that time ended 40 years ago. An inattentive controller can still cause plenty of chaos on takeoffs and landings, and other countries are not quite as devoted to airline safety as the United States, but . . . basically, the big finish to season 2 was pretty darn preposterous. Noticing this is not really a matter of knowing aviation history. It might have occurred to any Breaking Bad fan that we don’t have planes plummeting out of the sky every time some air traffic controller loses sleep. And, really, this wasn’t just a meaningless, transitory abuse of artistic licence. The plane crash was foreshadowed in every episode of that season, as if creator Vince Gilligan were feeling particularly excited and smug about the payoff he would eventually deliver. Within the framework of a show renowned for supposed moral nuance, that mid-air collision smacked of Old Hollywood, of the days when screenplays had to be passed through the descending colon of the Production Code. One could too easily imagine a Hays Office functionary looming over Gilligan’s shoulder, making damn sure every viewer could taste the weed of crime’s bitter fruit.

There is no Hays Office anymore, and Vince Gilligan has as much freedom as any television showrunner has ever enjoyed. He has shown admirable courage—perhaps the word is chutzpah—in giving the American public a memorable, popular fictional protagonist who is not only a murderer, but a cowardly, self-pitying, sometimes very stupid one.

How Breaking Bad will age is another question. Let the record show that the season 2 plane crash is hardly the only troublingly flimsy component in this narrative machine. In the show’s final days, as Gilligan is celebrated by critics in language normally reserved for statesmen and war heroes, one is increasingly tempted to snicker at moments like Walt’s “My brother-in-law is the real meth king” home video, or at bodyguard Huell blowing his cool after literally seconds of police questioning. Bloomberg columnist Megan McArdle pointed out that the whole series is founded on the highly amusing idea that a public school teacher and a cop—a federal agent injured on duty, no less—both just happen to have really terrible health insurance.

You can tell I have picked up the thread of Breaking Bad again as it approaches its culmination. Sometimes I think I am having more fun in its home stretch than most. Bryan Cranston’s performance as Walt invites a sort of extreme emotional involvement, kindles a species of anguish and horror, that is impossible to entertain once you have tuned into the show’s fundamental hokeyness.

Gilligan has said he increasingly sees the show as a “modern western.” It is certainly modern in the sense that it shares a darkness of tone and outlook with Unforgiven or Deadwood. In its plot mechanics, it is more like an old-timey frontier melodrama or a ’20s movie serial, complete with the contrived cliffhangers. As for the southwestern setting, so central to Breaking Bad’s mood and look, that was chosen—after season 1 was written—entirely for the purpose of snapping up tax incentives from the state of New Mexico. Genius plays the hand it is dealt, I guess.

On the web: For more Colby Cosh, visit his blog at macleans.ca/colbycosh




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Good riddance to Breaking Bad

  1. This article is what the young people call a troll post.

    • Maclean’s is the geek squad. These people should give up trying to write about arts and entertainment. (Economics too. The Ayn Rand tripe is getting tiresome…)

  2. As an air traffic controller, my only comment about the mid-air collision thread in BB was that it was done so realistically. If there’s one thing that BB has maintained is its attention to detail. Mr Cosh might want to google Uberlingen mid-air collision which happened just 11 years ago over Germany. The technology of keeping large airplanes from hitting each other existed then like it does today. As for VFR, well, Mr Cosh probably needs to talk to any private pilot to get schooled on that. Look, it seems that Mr Cosh’s criticism of Gilligan is really the criticism he should be leveling at himself. It seems Cosh wants to be Mr Smartypants but, in failing to provide any valid criticism, makes himself look very silly.

    • Definitely interesting to hear from someone with expertise. And even if the details render it unlikely it’s a situation that in a general sense would seem quite reasonable to the average viewer “an air traffic controller forgot to control the air traffic and there was a plane crash”

    • As a Fields Medallist and 2010 World Sex Champion, I’m always impressed by credentials presented with zero evidence by lone, completely anonymous internet randoms.

      • Cosh’s standing in the latter credential is the subject of fervent ongoing controversy owing to accusations of judge bias in the self-evaluated Solo Division. Everyone knows Mark Steyn is the real 2010 champ. #WSCtruth

      • Nice argument.

    • LMAO I think you hit a nerve Rodster.

      You betray yourself Colby Cosh. And you took him seriously enough to respond.

    • Colby you got what you wanted… responses for being “counter-cultural.” Even if it comes across as contrived, which totally defeats the purpose.

  3. I caught part of one lame episode of Breaking Bad and wondered what the attraction was. I mean, aside from peoples senseless addiction to meaningless TV violence, this is a rather scathing indictment on the drug addled American mindset.
    The Sopranos was pure unadulterated crap and so is Breaking Bad.

    • you caught a small part of a 60 hour drama, and deemed it bad…the idiocy of your argument speaks for itself.

      BB is not about violence,, its the best character study ever put on YV.

      • It is quite true, though, that BB episodes are lame in isolation and very good in aggregate. The plotting and story arc are what makes it worth the ride. You put up with the shitty acting and underdeveloped characters of about half the cast, and the lapses in verisimilitude, because the plot twists are worth the payoff.

        • This comment was deleted.

        • Silly acting? WOW, underdeveloped characters???? Name 1 show that has a deeper character then walter white? You don’t have a cliue or don;t know what you are watching.

          • pretty much every show I’ve ever seen has deeper characters than a failure at life who decides to destroy his and his families life in an attempt to leave them with an insurmountable fortune that cannot possibly be used by them. Oh yea and his brother in law is a DEA agent right because that seems like it’ll work out…. Dumb ass show good riddance indeed, no more faggots that don’t know shit about good film spazzing out over how boring BB is

      • You’re right. Character study is the finest. Ask any English or Theatre major.

    • This comment was deleted.

    • Your comment is hilarious

  4. ROFL, what a moronic artticle. BB is up there with the wire as the best show ever produced. Season 2 was a tour deforce in charcter development.

    • I’m curious as to what statistics you are looking at. If it is IMDB that is based on user votes not legitimate ratings….

  5. A troll article for hits.

    • Standard MO of one CC for many years now.

  6. The Video was brilliant, what is the author talking about? If yuo cannot even understand simple plots don;t write articles like this.

  7. Your article should have read- ‘I don’t understand breaking bad.’

  8. If Macleans is allowing terrible articles like this one to be written, than this once great publisher is crashing and burning just like the planes did in season 2 of Breaking Bad.

    • Just cuz hes chirpin your favorite show, don’t be a bitch

  9. This guy can’t be real. Is this a joke? Lost you at season 2? This guy is on meth.

  10. The infamous magnet scene also comes to mind when dealing with the absurdities of Breaking Bad. Then there’s the case of the hydrofluoric acid:

    http://www.today.com/entertainment/mythbusters-proves-breaking-bads-walt-needs-some-more-schooling-6C10904583

    But, I love the show in spite of these problematic bits and pieces. Watching television and movies requires some suspension of disbelief if you have any hope of enjoyment, and I’ve never had an issue with Breaking Bad in this regard. Just let ol’ Vince take the wheel and steer you in the right direction. After all, what TV show doesn’t have its unbelievable moments. Even The Wire fell apart with McNulty’s indiscretions in season 5 and we won’t deny that show is canon, will we?

    • Exactly. Consider Boardwalk Empire. Great show, wonderfully acted etc. But the number of murders is absolutely over the top, if you compare it to the real world, even among bootleggers in the 1920s. There’s practically a murder on every show, very often more than one murder, plus several mass murders (including an Iraq-quality bombing with mass casualties). Yet barely a one of these murders ever appears to be so much as investigated.
      Same goes for Dexter. In the real world, the number of serial killings in Miami-Dade County would have been a matter of intense international fascination and attention, with cops dispensed from all around the globe to get to the bottom of this abominable, homicidal anomaly. Dexter probably would have been arrested sometime in the 2nd or 3rd season at the very latest.
      It’s fiction Colby.

      • Yeah, no one would ever describe Dexter as a show that got eaten alive by versimilitude problems.

        • Knowing a thing or two about serial killers, I thought the concept of the show was too stupid to take it seriously or bother watching.

          • And yet Breaking Bad….. sure dexter is a bit dumb and it sounds dumb but you know what they do a great job with it and it is worth watching for the first 2 seasons just like breaking bad is after that they both get way too stupid, the difference is at least dexter kept it entertaining Breaking bad just got more and more boring and more and more cheesy. Looking forward to both being over make way for Continuum fuck yea

          • I agree that both shows were a lot more fun in the early seasons. BB got a lot darker later on, but it was more fun back when Walter and Jesse were just low to mid-level drug trade losers mixing it up with others in the trade, and Walter would use his high-school chemistry/science tricks to get them out of (or into) scrapes. There was a lot of good comedy in that, including physical comedy (e.g., Jesse in the outhouse). And I agree, Dexter just got way too strained and soap-opera like once they started running low on plot devices — though I will say that one thing that kept it from being outright bad was that they managed to attract a lot of great acting talent — e.g., Keith Carradine, John Lithgow (big time), Julia Stiles, Mos Def, etc. Also, Michael C. Hall’s narration continued to be a highlight.

        • you misspelled verisimilitude

    • So well said. What is fine film, tv, literature without suspension of belief? They are masters of foreshadowing and dramatic irony also. And true to good screenwriting, no character is the same in the end as they began.

      • The basic dramatic device in Dexter and Breaking Bad is very similar. In both cases, an outwardly “normal”, quite nerdy guy hides in plain sight while doing incredibly insidious things. A big part of the fun and dramatic tension for the viewer is: will he ever get caught? If so, how? And week to week, a huge part of the fun is seeing just how they manage to avoid detection and capture, often by the skin of their teeth, and sometimes in creative and humourous ways. They also tend to get into elaborate scrapes, and part of the fun is seeing them dealing with the mayhem while trying desperately to cling to that outward normality.

        • Absolutely!! And it’s a romp for the viewer. Dexter and White are likable as their “normal nerdy guys hiding in plain sight” as you say. Two more sessions to go with Walter. Will he get caught? I’m hoping not. He’s got to make that finish line.

  11. I think the root of Colby’s problem with BB is its unflattering depiction of private medicare.

    • Yes, this would never have happened in Canada. Also, as a teacher he would have had paid medical leave and full pension benefits for his family upon death.

  12. Good taste. You either have it or you don’t.

  13. To Colby Cosh: Why don’t you watch it for what it really is. a drama television series. Not a documentary on psycology or air traficking or anything else.

    • Exactly. It’s like having a big problem with Shakespeare because that’s not really what happened to the Prince of Denmark, and he surely wasn’t speaking with his father’s ghost. And what are the odds of all of those people dying at once right at the end of the play.
      And those Shakespearian comedies, where some woman dresses up and pretends to be a man. I mean, come on, in real life she’d be busted in no time flat.
      So unrealistic.

      • So wonderful…yes! And what about our suspension of belief when we don’t recognize those characters for who they really are when they are in disguise traversing throughout Europe.

      • His gripe is that it isn’t supposed to be that way they play the show up as so serious and intense but at the same time they make a joke out of Gus’s death. They’re trying to tell us that we shouldn’t suspend our belief but then they go and pull shit like that, it feels like they don’t know what show they want to make reminds me of true blood and the split motivation for the story

  14. Wow….I didn’t realize Mr. Cosh was that dense….turns out, he is.

  15. We’ve all known this guy … Dwight Schrute, Cliff Claven, some co-worker from the past … a glib but shallow pseudo intellectual who thinks it makes him look smarter than real smart people to pick at some minor flaw in an otherwise brilliant piece of art, only to demonstrate instead his complete lack of understanding of the art form itself. Probably thinks Warhol was just about soup cans.

    • Breaking Bad is a brilliant piece of art? OMG. Get a life.

      • It is…how is it not?

      • Ahhh…but it is. Ask any theatre professor. What better judge.

  16. It’s funny so many commenters here have become so upset over a TV show. It’s a friggin TV show people! You shouldn’t take it personally when people don’t like a TV show, even if it’s a journalist.

    • Lighten up, s_c_f–it’s just a comments thread.

      • You seem to have things exactly backward. Tell everyone else to lighten up, the people who are getting upset. That would include you. You appear to have either anger or insults in every single comment you write. Cool off and relax.

    • No kidding.

  17. This comment was deleted.

    • I don’t normally watch dramas but when I do I watch Breaking Bad

  18. Troll.

  19. Colby. It’s only a TV show that provides an hour of escapism on Suday night.

  20. James wrote on this article:

    • a day ago • “If Maclean’s is allowing terrible articles like this one to be written, than this once great publisher is crashing and burning just like the planes did in season 2 of Breaking Bad.”
    As a subscriber to MacLean’s for over 30 years I have to agree that many of the articles written since Andrew Coyne left MacLean’s are not near as good or insightful as they have been for decades on end.
    The newer columnists such as Cosh/Emma Teitel/Feschuk are at most mediocre. To my dismay,I’ve really noticed this over the past year.
    The stories and quality of journalism @ MacLean’s is just not as good as it was or as it should be–there is something wrong at MacLean’s in the Editorially Department and as Canada’s national Magazine it is too bad.
    This article on Breaking Bad and its columnist is a good example of too much bad journalism. Surely MacLean’s can do much better as the standards of a once great magazine fail its readership.

    • Cosh and Feschuck are not newer columnists. They were here long before Coyne left. I wil grant that Teitel has done little to elevate the quality of the magazine since her recent addition.

  21. This comment was deleted.

    • A solid and well thought out comment.

  22. Unfortunately you didn’t stick around for the best parts, season 3 and 4 were the best TV drama I’ve ever seen. I will miss it.

  23. What a spot-on insightful analysis of the central weakness of Breaking Bad! It’s about time someone spoke up about the glaring inaccuracies and reliance on coincidence that drive its plot line!

    But let’s not stop at Breaking Bad. How about other theatrical productions that rely on egregiously inaccurate assumptions? How about True Blood? It tells us that there are vampires, werewolves and fairies living among us. But it’s not true! Those things don’t really exist! Why has no one taken Alan Ball to task for that?

    And how about some of the lame stuff by that guy Shakespeare? His “history” plays are chock-full of outright lies, and how many times does he re-cycle the same mistaken-identity tropes to create dramatic tension? Puhleeze!

    For my part, I want my performing arts to hew slavishly to absolute factual accuracy. None of this lame “verisimilitude” for me. I want pure, unadulterated realism in my art. Bravo, Mr. Cosh!

    • There’s our second fanboy comparison to Shakespeare.

      • If you actually did some research, you’d notice that Breaking Bad has been compared to Shakespeare by many reviewers writing in magazines as prestigious as MacLean’s; only difference is most of those critics aren’t pretentious jerks. Us “fanboys” have a valid POV too, and the majority of legitimate critics consider this show to be one of the best of its genre.

  24. We all need to remember that this is FICTION. If things happen that are a bit unrealistic and convenient for the plot that is because fiction tends to work like that. I know this show is supposed to be scary because of haw close to reality it is, and it is. The darkness in Breaking Bad comes from your ability to fathom it happening in reality. But the truth is, it is a TV show, don’t take it so seriously, just watch it and enjoy.

  25. Seeing as you’re watching this thread, Colby, what are your favourite show/s?

    • I don’t really have a go-to drama series right now… aside from Breaking Bad, that is; I thought I’d made it pretty obvious that I am now following along with everyone else, only with a little extra cynical detachment. I’m current with Game of Thrones and House of Cards (whose first season was just a little flabby but which basically pulled off the unbelievable Office trick of being as good as the UK original in a different way). On the comedy side I am concerned that Parks & Rec is being slowly submerged in syrup and I am crusading for the deeply underrated Mindy Project.

      • Thank you for the reply.

      • You must have been crushed when that iconic example of drug-running cinema verite, “Intelligence,” was cancelled by CBC after only two seasons.

  26. you say good riddance to Breaking Bad I say good riddance to you one of the best sows on t.v and so many of us miss it…oh ya so sorry were not perfect like you

    • one of the best sows on t.v. your right Marky.

      • One of the best TV shows of all time, you obviously don’t know what great TV is.

        • Actually I do. it’s just that the rest of you here, who are touting Breaking Bad as some sort of a seminal formative work of dramatic import, that don’t. It’s really not that hard to dumb yourself down to the level of Breaking Bad. That’s precisely why you like it.

  27. I actually agree that the conclusion to Breaking Bad season 2 is ridiculous, but more so because there’s no way that an air traffic control company would allow a grieving father to return to work after only five weeks. That’s just ludicrous.

    However, Breaking Bad is one of the tensest, most compelling, and most strongly written pieces of television fiction in recent memory, and possibly ever. It’s been legitimately compared to a Shakespearean tragedy. This MacLean’s reviewer is missing out.

    • LOL Compared to a Shakespearean tragedy? What are you smoking? Crack? Like Rob Ford?

      • Look it up. It’s a legitimate comparison. People have compared Breaking Bad to Macbeth and the like, maybe somewhat facetiously and affectionately but the comparison is mostly genuine.

        Actually, the parallels between Breaking Bad and Macbeth especially are really, really obvious, so much so that I pity you if you don’t notice them. ;) Whether or not Breaking Bad succeeds as being that kind of a tragedy (or, as another reviewer put it: “Vince Gilligan’s own version of the great American novel, on steroids”) is another matter entirely.

        Google “Breaking Bad/Shakespeare” and you’ll find some well written articles on the subject. The Sopranos, too, was compared to Shakespeare, so it’s not unheard of for a TV Drama to be compared in such a way.

        Btw, I’ll never understand why people on the internet get SO angry, and turn stuff like this into personal attacks, just because they’re too dumb to see what is so obvious to the rest of us.

        You are VERY much in the minority if you dislike this show, so please stop acting like you know what you’re talking about. More people agree with me than you. And I don’t make these things personal until I’m attacked. If you actually did some research, and got your head out of your ass, you’d understand what I mean.

        • Reviews from a bunch of would be, has been, jumped up, journalist hacks? I’ll guarantee you any comparisons between The Sopranos and Breaking Bad is pure unadulterated BS, written by someone who wouldn’t be taken seriously by those with a degree in the arts, and who understand Elizabethan literature. Your so desperate to defend this pathetic piece of garbage on TV that your grasping at straws. Pathetic.

          • Everything in your retort is an assumption.

            Every. Single. Sentence.

            Please stop, you’re embarrassing yourself.

            No, these are not reviews by journalist hacks. No, comparisons between The Sopranos and BB are not pure, unadulterated BS. No, I am not grasping at straws. You’re just fabricating “evidence” to support your moronic claims.

            Also, I would recommend learning the difference between “your” and “you’re” before making the erroneous assumption that other people have a poor understanding of literature, when it’s clearly you who lacks understanding.

          • I’ve written for the stage, composed screenplays, and advised on TV dramas and comedies. I’ve written world class poetry, and the books that I recommend, are all top caliber that many people take note of. I can write in the style of Shakespeare, and am currently developing a play in that vein.
            What I’m getting from you is that you’re just a pathetic wannabe intellectual with no credentials whatsoever to back up any of the utterly asinine remarks that you’ve made so far. In other words, you’re as phony as they come.
            As W.C. Field’s used to say, when referring to his dislike of unruly young children, ‘Go away you bother me.’

          • I really worry about the future of literature, television and film if you’re the poster child for the next generation of entertainment. I really do.

            I cite your comment below as an example of your stupidity: “You’re all a bunch of brain dead morons who couldn’t tell character and plot development from a douchebag.” That’s really clever. Can’t wait to see what other witticisms you drop next.

            Really, I’m a guy who is much, much smarter than you are, with legitimate credentials, but instead I’m attacked for being a “wannabe” simply because I point out how phony you are. Btw, if you’re so damn smart – you compared yourself to Shakespeare, after all – maybe you should get rid of that extra comma after you say “and the books that I recommend…”; any writer who can write something in iambic pentameter should clearly be able to see that that’s an unnecessary bit of grammar.

            Why don’t you dazzle us with your talent, instead of wasting your time on here? I think it’s clear that you don’t have any, but are instead a whiny, pouting, perpetual adolescent, trying to pass yourself off as someone impressive when you’re really just incapable of creating anything legitimate. It’s much easier to knock down someone else’s building (read: a creation) than to build your own.

          • This comment was deleted.

          • You’ve been attacking people on this thread, posting comments like “Breaking Bad is a brilliant work of fart” (sure you don’t want to save that for your next poetry anthology?), and then went on to claim that you’re a respected author who works on television programs, wins awards and writes plays in the style of Shakespeare, and you have the temerity to call me a poser? You’re completely delusional, and a liar to boot.

            It’s a waste of my time to continue this debate with imbeciles such as yourself, who have nothing better to do than attack people who like a television program that you dislike (while making up a host of absurd lies to support your opinions), so I’m going to end this conversation. Good day, idiot.

          • I note metropika’s response has been deleted, but allow me to applaud you on this retort.

          • Please tell me where you came up with your aka. It’s such a long convoluted and pretentious piece of hubris it should get an award for Best in Show.

          • You’re right. It was assigned to me when I first joined/logged in with disqus. Not my creation. If I knew how to change it I would.

          • Thank you! I appreciate that. :)

          • *Sigh.*

            I see that you’re continuing this debate. Look, I’m sorry if I offended you. I still think you’re completely wrong (about attacking me personally, not about your taste in television, although I disagree with that as well), but if people decided to bury the hatchet instead of continuing on endlessly with pointless conflict, we wouldn’t have a lot of the problems that we do.

            And all art is subjective anyway, as Vince Gilligan undoubtedly knows. Some of us can see beauty in what others cannot, and vice versa; doesn’t make either of us right or wrong.

          • I’ve never been offended by pretentious long winded intellectual lightweights in the past. I’m not offended by any now. I know where I stand on the issues of subjective versus objective, of protagonist versus antagonist. There are absolutely none of these elements that are that are demonstrated in this sham of a program. The shows actors are all alike in there presentation of the plot lines in this ridiculous TV drama. It stinks of crass, over the top, petty commercialism.

          • I’m not a pretentious, long-winded intellectual lightweight, but it’s clear that nothing I say is going to convince you otherwise, nor am I going to convince you that Breaking Bad is worth a second look, so I think it’s best that we stop.

            Although I must say that your claim that Breaking Bad does not demonstrate any protagonist versus antagonistic dynamic is particularly ludicrous when you consider that it’s not possible to tell a story without that dynamic, whether the antagonist is a villain (meaning another person, in this case) or some kind of internal obstacle that the hero has to overcome.

          • This clown’s not a hero by any definition. He literally betrayed everyone close to him. Innocent people suffered for this. His close relationship with criminals in the drug industry turned him into a moral leper. He became self centered nihilist. But that hasn’t stopped many of you from idolizing this pathetic human being. He’s more like the antihero of an old Greek play who meets his demise at the hands of the gods. The very antithesis of human existence.

          • What I find most interesting and ironic about this retort is that, while everything you say is true, you seem to be implying that your statements succeed as criticisms of the show, when they are in fact the very things that the show has been attempting from the get-go.

            The only thing that I take issue with is your assumption that the majority of us idolize Walter White, which I’m certainly hoping is not the case. :)

            Read any statement made by Gilligan, and you’ll find that his intention was to take his show’s protagonist and turn him into the antagonist.

            And when I said “hero,” I was speaking in more general terms in relation to the basic structure of storytelling, and not suggesting that Walter White is in any way a hero in the conventional sense of the word.

            We don’t idolize Walter White, but are interested in him as we have been in the antiheroes of great literature. He has faced physical antagonists, but his pride has clearly been the result of his undoing (the tragic flaw, another trope of many a classic play), causing him to degenerate into the moral leper you loathe so much. Don’t forget that many of the show’s biggest fans feel the same way about Walt; this is, and always was, the INTENTION of the show’s creator. We should not be blindly sympathetic towards Walt, I agree; nor should we idolize him. But this was never something that this show asked of its audience. It’s fascinating as a character study, but is in no way advocating Walter White as a legitimate role model.

            You seem to be criticizing it for the very reasons that make it so fascinating in the first place. :)

          • What’s so fascinating are the number of hotheads who defend this pathetic clowns right to become a degenerate. That there’s a deeper reason, given the current state of American culture, for rationalizing his right to do so.That’s how they produced the series. They relied on that element, the one which can explain anything through a dramatic representation, of that particular zeitgeist. Nothing particularly original or entertaining in that old butt check.

          • I don’t think the majority of us are defending Walter’s right to become a degenerate so much as defending the quality of the series. But there is something to be said for living vicariously through an outlaw.

          • Sadly you’re not coming across with any credibility. Note you don’t say you are published. And one doesn’t compose screenplays. One composes music and writes screenplays.

          • OK I had two plays produced, both before you were born. I’ve communicated with Issac Asimov, Ben Bova, Phillipe Jose Farmer, etc. on script development, before you were born. I critiqued Stephen Hawking’s book, ‘The Large Scale Structure of Spacetime. Posted over 300 limericks dealing with science and technology for MIT’s online newsletter, ‘Technology Review. Been quoted by Doug Cawker who worked with Quentin Tarantino on script development. I’ve exchanged emails with Sam Shepard. I send in letters to the editor at Maclean’s which occasionally get printed. I have so many social memes out ‘there,’ some of them have gone viral and are being used by some of the major TV news anchors and political pundits of the day.
            And that is just the tip of the iceberg.
            Please tell us what, if anything at all, that you’ve contributed to the effort so far.

          • The lady doth protest too much.

          • Hello. I’m still waiting. Please tell us what, besides your rather childish and immature attempts at humor, that you’ve contributed to the arts in general.

          • Well, perhaps we know each other. I work in the arts and have for 40 years. I am the founder of a renowned theatre company and have co-written one play only that has been produced throughout the world for over 30 years. For some reason we knocked this one out of the park enough to send both my kids to university. I have also written a book on theatre education that is the basis for curriculum taught in various universities and sat on a citizen’s committee of five to design and refurbish an old building into what is now a remarkable lively urban arts space. I have also taught Theatre and English in schools throughout the country. I hold three degrees and today I am the Director of a successful non profit arts organization. I have also built a substantial endowment fund to supports arts education projects in the city where I live. I will be accepting an award in the arts from a renowned university this fall and yesterday spent hours trying to find an outfit to wear. I’m still working on my acceptance speech.

          • If you want to work with me on my Shakespearean project just let me know. Although I wanted Christopher Plummer to play the lead, getting through to his agent is almost impossible. While I could have it workshopped here in Edmonton, I’m open to other venues. And, while I really busy right now, I can make time for it if someone’s interested in taking it on.
            It’s got a really good theme with plenty of action. A real crowd pleaser.

          • Oh gee. You’ve gone and changed your aka. Now just how hard was it to do that Phoebe?
            A Shakespearean play just a little out of your bailiwick Phoebe? Especially when you’re so up on Hamlet and Macbeth. Figures.

          • I changed my aka, as you call it, as an homage to you metropika. If you really want to launch your play in Edmonton, try the Citadel. They have the expertise, the mandate and the funds. Unfortunately Chris Plummer is booked well into 2018. Hopefully he can handle it all. He’s not getting any younger. King Lear was challenging for him at his age. Perhaps that is why he’s not answering your calls.

          • I’m working on an original Shakespearean production. Something from my own imagination. Not anything from the canon. And I already contacted the Citadel years ago but got caught up in finishing a paper in metaphysics. That’s my first love. Philosophy. Now that I’ve accomplished what I set out to do in that subject it’s time to take a run at writing some really serious literature. An art form that I’d like to try and master.

          • World class poety….lamo….

          • LOL
            Duh. Poety? Ever heard of spell check Kevin?

          • BB is better then sopranos…..deal with it your jealously is mental. It has been better acted, has deeper character development. Sopranos was one of the all time greats, but its later seasons faltered, had some contrived plot points, and was not near as consistent as Breaking Bad.

            The Wire is the only show that might be better then breaking bad. Sopranos was slightly overrated. People love mob tales.

          • Pathetic piece of garbage….Moronic. One of the most well written, acted pieces on entertainment ever made. THe awards it is getting showered upon show you are in a stark minority. Quite frankly everything you say is total BA.,

          • You obviously don’t have a degree in the arts. If you had you would have written “you’re” rather than “your.”

          • You really ought to remember that in Shakespeare’s day, his plays were not considered high art or literature at all. They were considered to be popular entertainment — just like Breaking Bad.

          • Yes. And he borrowed, stole, and plagiarized as many other literary works as he possibly could. As so many other authors of his time did as well.

      • You’ve obviously never read Hamlet or MacBeth.

      • Sorry for getting mad at you earlier. I shouldn’t have called you stupid right at the outset. Sorry.

  28. This comment was deleted.

  29. Most entertaining fiction is about a suspension of disbelief. For WW’s cancer, he required an experimental treatment, which most insurers will not cover, regardless of the premiums or positions involved. In Hank’s case, he was persuing the Hiesenberg case off the books, thus his work benefits do not apply.

  30. I find it pretty amazing that somebody got paid for writing this.

  31. Fail

  32. Thanks for sharing! Enjoy saying goodbye to the show. I for one think it’s the best thing since Six Feet Under and I’m gonna miss the brilliance and the collective talent. Fortunately, I’m confident said talent will be reshuffled into fresh collaborations of equal and surpassing brilliance.

  33. The writer is looking to make a name for himself with this troll article. Nice try hack!

  34. For someone who gave up on BB in season 2, you’re still watching it and still have lots of opinions. Jealousy is a terrible thing.

    • Gave up on BB season 2 why? Dont like character development, amazing acting and ploting?

  35. Breaking Bad is a highly and brilliantly stylized series, not a botched attempt at a shallow realism. Next you will be complaining about the guy’s head on the tortoise or your problem taking the Saul character seriously.

    • Let’s rephrase that Pouzar. Breaking Bad is a stylized attempt at shallow realism. But then so was The Soprano’s. Good Fellas, The Godfather, Dirty Harry, The Unforgiven, and a whole host of other violent primetime entertainment aimed at the American market. Depravity thy name is realism.

  36. Aw gee. Did MacLeans’ editor say…”Let’s be different. Let’s write a nasty piece on how bad BB really is…take it from a social capital perspective, throw in some patronizing Yiddish terms, the evils of the drug culture. Insult the audience for their loyalty to the story, say something nasty about the writers and producers, call it contrived…just to rile up our readers a bit.

  37. That is exactly where Walt lost me too. I was hoping Hank would eventually take him down after that. I stopped watching for a while after he killed Jessies g/f. I was absolutely devastated when Hank was killed. I hope Walt gets it in the end I hate him.

  38. OH Colby Cosh says Walt won’t be missed, I guess the millions of people who are dreading the show ending, the endless awards it has and will win, and all the massive hype about the show as one of the best TV dramas ever, is irrelevant, because Colby Cosh says so.

  39. So in summation. To all of the fanboys who got their knickers in a knot over Colby raining on your little parade. You can dish it out but you can’t take it. Pull up your pantyhose poopsies. It’s time to man up.

    • Absolutely. This one post brought out so many fanboy lunatics out of the woordwork, it’s hard to believe. As you’ve noted, these people also just happen to be the most thin-skinned crybabies in the human race.

      • Wah! Mommy. A bad man wrote a bad review about Breaking Bad. Wah! Let’s call him a jerk, a loser, and an idiot. But don’t call us anything in return. You’re not being fair. LOL. I mean really really LOL.

        • You have some serious issues my friend, for which you should seek professional help.
          It’s a TV series, some people like it, some people don’t…get over it.

          • The only issue here is the fact that someone wrote a review that you all didn’t like. Get over it.

      • This comment was deleted.

    • You’re complaining about people complaining. The hypocrisy of your post is probably over your head.

  40. This article posted before the second last episode; during the times where everyone is going online reading about BreakingBad. Could this be a legitimate criticism, which is always welcomed, done at the right time to get people’s attention? No, it’s not. Lets call this article what it:

    A 10/10 troll post.

    well played Cosh.

  41. Wow. Cosh, you got lost over a mid-flight collision due to air traffic controller inattention? Because that’s so impossible or… what? Y’know, the crash itself wasn’t even critical to the plot, right? It easily could’ve been something else and the show would barely have changed.

    Well, you lost me. You are obviously just a hipster wannabe trying to gain cred with that fraction of the television-watching populace that failed to keep up with BrBa and now must pretend that it doesn’t really care to try and save a little face even though they know they’re missing out. (Or whatever. I don’t really care.)

    Note to hipster wannabes: have the guts to say that you just didn’t like something for no other reason than you just don’t like it, okay? You don’t always have to pretend that there’s some sort of deep reason or sophisticated method guiding your personal tastes — it’s okay to look at the rest of us idiots and just shrug your shoulders and say you don’t get the attraction. And it’s even okay to be shallow sometimes. Especially about television.

    • Also, re: “my brother’s the real meth king” and other moments for snickering… these may seem wild if taken out of context, but were are witnessing the self-immolation of a family. The video was a desperate move borne from the mind of a man who has lost his moral compass and is now trapped by the very people he was providing for. This didn’t happen in the first 4 seasons because then it would’ve been silly, if not boringly predictable and/or dumb. Vince Gilligan has played his hand masterfully, leaving the simplest, most desperate cards until the bitter end when they’re absolutely needed.

      Did you have a better idea than the one Walt came up with?

  42. Pffft.

  43. Mr Cosh;
    That’s it !? … you don’t like one incident in 6 years of masterful story telling and so the whole show is bunk ? Your article is so very light weight that I’m really embarrassed for you. I certainly think that people can argue against this show , but your article can barely be called an argument. This article seems to be you attempting to get a name for yourself by righting a fluff piece … good luck with that !
    You might also may want to Read up on the mid-air collision that occurred in 1986 over Cerrittos California. Investigation showed that the main reason this occurred was due to a distracted Air Traffic Controller. By-the-way you might be interested to know that the name of the ATC was Walter White.

  44. As a police officer that has worked numerous drug and gang related files over my career I am astounded at the accuracy in depicting this “lifestyle” and for that alone, Vince Gilligan deserves the utmost recognition. There are way too many cop shows that insult the intelligence of it’s viewers including but certainly not limited to NCIS and CSI. I realize that BB is not a “cop” show in it’s literal definition but again, it is so well written that I am guessing he had many police officer advising him as the series progressed. Well done Vince.

  45. This comment was deleted.

    • Shawny,
      Unless you’re trying to impress all the other trolls on this forum, please learn how to use spell check, proper grammar, and sentence structure. Then you might actually be able to construct a whole paragraph. Just think about the implications.

  46. BB is the greatest series ever can u do that…. Walter White FOREVER,,,TALK SHIT ELSEWEAR, I suppose the SONS are the same to you? FOOOOL u no nothing about BREAKING BAD

  47. Breaking Bad explains the MO and violence of drug crime and shows the extreme destructiveness of the drug trade and culture.

  48. Well Colby, since the cross-border manufacture and smuggling of drugs is a central plot device throughout most of Breaking Bad’s five seasons, that narrows the fictional setting down to just four possible American states: California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Yes, they could have also shot it on desert locations in places like Utah or southwest Colorado. So sure, like any good production company, they chose the most cost effective option among all possible shooting locations that would provide authentic looking scenery.
    Unfortunately, nothing that could pass for the desert regions of the American Southwest could be found in Hollywood’s favorite province, British Columbia. That’s right, not anywhere, not even Kamloops.

    So there.

  49. Oh no, Mr. Cosh. God forbid that ONE detail was not up to your standards of realism. I bow to your prowess of knowing fact from fiction. Maybe you should actually read the definition because this show does NOT claim to be factual in all assets. Pshh…

  50. this is a terrible article

  51. Interesting, a critic criticizing a show they haven’t watched – awe the wonders of our ADD society.

    But TBF there’s always going to be on contrarian in the mix that needs to go against the trend albeit usually they actually watched what they were talking about.

    I’m not a fan of most TV, including Dexter that was aforementioned, but that’s because the subject(s) aren’t often interesting, to me. But I cannot dimiss the fanbase or the impact a show like Dexter has had on TV today and in the future. BB will no doubt have a positive and negative ( the forthcoming imitators – don’t worry they are coming) impact on TV. BB is the first show I can remember where a supporting cast member received hate mail to the point where a public response was required. And that’s from fans of the show. It has to be something special to bring that kind of mania out of the fanbase, even if misguided.

    At a base level watching something as twisted as BB requires going at least 50% into the show before the show even gets legs. I watched last week’s show and at the end had a hard time remembering when I last laughed hard like I did during those early episodes – the darkness of the show has taken over, even if it continues to have brief moments of dark comic relief.

    if you think the airplane crash was important it really wasn’t… It has no bearing on the next 3 seasons and isn’t even discussed again until a brief scene in the latter part of the series. As you said quite rightly in the beginning – you ”fell out over a small thing” and in turn, missed out on a great thing.

  52. I’m sure you were ‘particularly excited and smug’ while writing this, going against the grain and all, but please get over your self indulgence, Colby Cosh.

  53. As a pilot I must inform you that you are absolutely incorrect about your assessment. simply look at the CADORs any day of the week and look at all of the accidents and near misses that get no media coverage and see for yourself how easy it is for someone to mess up and get a whole lot of people killed (or almost killed)

  54. My apologies to Colby Cosh et al for my earlier negative feed back on this article and his writing in general.
    The article below is solid journalism and well written on German Nuclear Energy which is a topic of great importance.

    http://www2.macleans.ca/2013/09/17/the-answer-is-not-blowing-in-the-wind/
    This article above on Breaking Bad is just a little more fluffy and of course quite subjective and should not dictate Colby’s writing talents.
    My apologies Colby;
    Kev

  55. Vince Gilligan accomplished a difficult goal; turning a protagonist into a villain. By the second-last episode I had lost any trace of sympathy I once had for Walter White. Still, it’s interesting to see the remnants of his humanity poking out of his shattered existence from time to time, thwarted each time by a cold, hard-logic decision to take the ruthless path forward.

  56. did you not read Time Magazine’s “Bitter Pill”? They probably didn’t / don’t have sufficient medical coverage.

  57. Well Colby, your subject matter range is staggering. Social issues, politics, now movies… I am afraid you are about to graduate to discussing politics in Middle East! PLEASE DON’T DO THAT. There is no diplomatic academy that you could have finished in Edmonton . Also, as most feminine male I will ever know PLEASE don’t comment on Breaking Bad… choose movies that have less testosterone and more estrogen in them…something like… ‘Pretty in Pink’.

    Seriously, I think you owe us an explanation. Why is it you throw your support at policies that deepen the divide between men and women, destroy families for the sake of the mighty tax dollar? Granted, feminism is profitable for the government – more families get broken, more people go to work for themselves not counting on their spouses support, more money goes to the tax man and he is o-so-badly needs it to support the boomers going over the hill… BUT WHAT’S IN IT FOR YOU?

    …and legislating Parent Alienation Syndrome (PAS)… isn’t it the lowest of the low? Are you supporting it too? It is as if you are not from around here… Is this because you were chosen to contribute to this fine publication? What a shame! You misrepresent the opinions of people who live around you in your province.

  58. You are obviously a self-appointed critic who is out of touch with the world of television. I would call this article “Good riddance to Colby Cash”…..a full out twit!

  59. This article is hysterical! It turns out that Colby Cosh is the real-life version of Comic-Book Guy from The Simpsons. Comic-Book Guy voice: “Worst episode ever!”. Cosh clearly has no understanding of narrative or film theory. It’s like he thinks that by finding a plot-hole (and judging by the comments below he hasn’t even found one), he writes off the entire show. He wouldn’t know this, but even the best writers have made mistakes, but their work lives on. For example, Daniel Defoe in Robinson Crusoe made a mistake in his narrative. He said that Crusoe dove into the water without any clothes, but then filled his pockets once he was under-water. Yet, Robinson Crusoe lives on as a very fine piece of literature.
    This is simple nit-picking, as if we’re all meant to bow down and worship Cosh’s keen eye for plot-holes. The crash was a plot device, used to develop character.

  60. Macleans, I am a well-read, well-versed, occasionally insightful self-identified internet troll with a penchant for writing quips that I know will piss people off for no other reason than to seek attention for myself. Consider this an application, if you are looking for more writers of Colby Cosh’s ilk.

  61. Yet more evidence of how Maclean’s has gone from a magazine that once reflected and discussed the most important viewpoints about our culture and country to a voice-piece for subjective, uneducated musings. Nobody I know reads this publication and it’s for good reason–it’s pure crap. Congrats Colby on taking it further down the sewer. You don’t have a clue what you’re talking about and this piece is just one example of the BS this publication spews out on a daily basis. Need more evidence, read the Too Asian article from a few years back, or the nice Christmas cover Why Do We Dress Our Daughters Like Sluts, or Steyn’s front cover piece on his book that resulted in a lawsuit…etc. Maclean’s is now irrelevant, and dangerous. That’s a shame.

  62. breaking bad lost you in season 2. your article lost me at sentence 1.

  63. I hate yo. if you don’t like breaking bad go watch dancing with the stars or whatever kind of gay shows you like

  64. It seems to me that you don’t need to devote a full page in Maclean’s to telling us that you don’t really like (but do still watch) a certain TV show. What a waste of the journalistic opportunity given to you to reach so many thoughtful readers. Leave your comments on Facebook and Twitter like everyone else.

    • I’m sorry did you say accident or near miss? Oh, you mean you still don’t have proof of this happening. Ya, that’s what I thought.

  65. You Know for a show that suppose to be intelligent. Its Fans act like 3 year old’s.

  66. Couldn’t agree more. Nice article. Don’t understand what the craze is all about. Terrible acting. Even worse script. The entire premise is completely idiotic.

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