It’s rare that a show is so widely loved by audiences and critics, but over the past year AMC’s “Breaking Bad” has bridged the gap.
Earlier this month, “Breaking Bad” made its way into the “Guinness World Records 2014” as the highest rated show of all time, receiving a score of 99 out of 100 on Meta- Critic. Paired with record-setting viewership in the latter part of season five, 6.6 million viewers tuned in for Sept. 22’s penultimate episode.
“I started watching (“Breaking Bad”) probably about February of 2013,” Ryan McGovern, first year College of Law student, said. He has caught up on four and a half seasons of the series on Netflix in preparation for the final eight episodes that began airing in August.
“I saw a recent episode when my roommate was watching it, and it seemed interesting. He recommended I start from the beginning so I did, and I was hooked,” he said.
McGovern isn’t alone. The series split up its fifth and final season into two parts, part one airing in the summer of 2012. In that year viewship has more than doubled with the midseason premiere garnering 5.92 million viewers, more than double last year’s season premiere with 2.93 million viewers.
“I think Netflix kept us on the air. Not only are we standing up here, I don’t think our show would have even lasted beyond season two,” Vince Gilligan, “Breaking Bad” creator, writer and producer said to reporters after the Emmy Awards Sunday, Sept. 22, according to Variety. “It’s a new era in television, and we’ve been very fortunate to reap the benefits”
A new era indeed, one filled with more television devotees than ever before. Fat Cat, a bar in Uptown, airs television shows regularly,and popularity of the viewings has been growing over the past couple of years.
“AMC shows are really popular for us,” Andrew Barbera, manager of Fat Cat, said. “For the finale (of “Breaking Bad”), we’re anticipating 60 to 100 people.”
But it’s not just television fans that are changing. Something strange in television has been happening over the past decade. TV was once the place where actors built their careers before they made the jump to feature films, or where they ended up when their movie career tanked. Network television shows were ordinary and dull.
But in 1999, a man by the name of Tony Soprano came to HBO, changing the television landscape forever. The idea of the anti-hero in television was born: the protagonist you want to associate with but isn’t the “good guy” of the show. After “The Sopranos” television became a darker place, but also a better place.
Twenty-one Emmy Awards later and TV would never be the same. From this model “Dexter” and AMC’s other heavyweight “Mad Men” were born, with “Breaking Bad” following a year later.
In his pitch to AMC, Gilligan promised to turn “Mr. Chips into Scarface,” a promise the show has lived up to over its five seasons. Without giving away spoilers for those who haven’t seen the series, the viewer quickly gets pulled into Walter White’s (Bryan Cranston) meth – or rather “empire” – business, his moral degradation and the collapse of everything around him.
“Breaking Bad” has even made an impact outside the realm of television. It’s put Albuquerque on the map.Larger American cities on the East Coast generally get first dibs when film crews determine where to shoot their movies. Out West, Los Angeles and Las Vegas are the sexy picks for a film’s setting.
Albuquerque, N.M.? Not so sexy. At least not until Vince Gilligan decided to make it the setting for “Breaking Bad,” forever changing the city’s role in popular culture.
“‘Breaking Bad’ has had a tremendous impact and has given Albuquerque a fantastic exposure opportunity as a travel destination,” said Megan Mayo Ryan, the tourism manager for the Albuquerque Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. “We’ve heard from tour partners and businesses that people all around the world are ordering their products and asking for tours.”
The show has turned Albuquerque from an afterthought to a prime tourist destination, and people everywhere are making sure to let their friends know when they’re near any of the show’s many iconic locations.
Alex Roland, a recent graduate of the University of Scranton, is living in Albuquerque for a year through the Je- suit Volunteer Corps. He says that from the day he set foot in the city, he could feel the sense of community apparent in Heisenberg’s antics on the screen.
“It’s amazing. The show has been a cool opportunity for people to say, ‘Hey, that’s our city,'” he said. “The first week I was here, I was giddy every time I passed a location. Now, a month later, I’m still giddy but I scream out loud a little bit less.”
Roland has received an inside look behind the scenes of the show. He lives near several locations from the show and says everything is not as it seems.
“Some locations aren’t where you think they’d be,” he said. “For example, the Crystal Palace, or the crack hotel in the show, is right next to a main bridge and is on a major road. But the way that it’s shot in the show makes it seem like it’s in the middle of nowhere.”
The city isn’t worried about the glamour wearing off now that the show is over. New York still holds tours for “Sex and the City” fans and New Jersey still has events for fans of “The Sopranos.” Once Walter White’s saga comes to a close, Albuquerque will still be a prime destination for the millions of fans of one of television’s most popular narratives.
SPOILER ALERT- stop reading if you’re not caught up on the series through season 5, episode 15. By the time this goes to print, the season finale of “Breaking Bad” will have aired, most likely ruining the lives of much of The DePaulia staff. These predictions were written before the finale aired so we can all laugh at how wrong we probably were.
Courtney Jacquin, Managing Editor
“Walt gets back to the house, like we saw in the Season 5, Episode 9 flash-forward, takes the ricin and kills himself. I heard a rumor a while ago that Vince Gilligan said that Walt would die at the end of the series, but why should we assume it’s the cancer? The DEA is onto him again, and he’s sure as hell not going to let himself end up in jail.”
Haley BeMiller, Nation & World Editor
“While I personally want Walt to get what he de- serves, he’s our protagonist, and I think he needs to be the last one standing. However, it won’t be in a good way. His transformation from cancer patient to the power-hungry meth emperor will come full circle, and he will have destroyed everyone in his life. It’s hard to say what will happen to everyone, but I suspect Jesse, the person most directly affected by him, will die.”
Trina Young, Copy Editor
“I read something online about the title of the fi- nal episode, ‘Felina,’ being a reference to the song ‘El Paso’ by Marty Robbins. The lyrics recount a man’s love for a woman named Felina, how another man kisses her and how the speaker kills him and runs away. At the end he goes back for her and is killed. I can see how it mirrors some of what’s going on in the show, whether Felina is a metaphor for Skyler, Walt’s family as a whole or even the meth empire, and I can also see Vince Gilligan planning something out like that.”
Andrew Morrell, Arts & Life Editor
“The only possible outcome I can see for ‘Break- ing Bad’ is what we all think to be the impossible: the beloved Huell will swoop in to save the day. Except this time, instead of falling on a pile of money, he will fall on a pile of bodies made up of the entire cast, and on top of them will be all the money. Meanwhile, the cast that have all been killed at Huell’s unmerciful hands will wake up together on a strange island. They soon discover that the island is Belize and they are now on a new ‘Lost’ spinoff called ‘Belize Bonanza.'”
David Webber, Sports Editor
“Walt uses the ricin and goes with the strategy Gus used in Mexico to off the Salamanca clan, doing it to kill off Todd’s crew. Walt then devises a scheme. He goes to Gray Matter Technologies and gives Elliot Schwartz an ultimatum – fund his family’s future or he’ll drag the company down with him. Walt then gives Jesse the oppor- tunity to kill him. Jesse says no, and Walt goes back on the lam.”