Breaking Boundaries

By: Russell Lawrence

I recently finished Breaking Bad, and couldn’t help but write about the show, even though I know I’m late on the craze. It’s been four years since the show came to a close, but nevertheless it pushed boundaries and set a new standard for television dramas.

With a staggering 16 Emmy wins across its lifespan, Breaking Bad goes down as one of the most captivating and successful television shows of all time. A number of those Emmys were given to Bryan Cranston for his consistently impressive performance as Walter White. In my opinion, he’s more than deserving of the awards and other accolades, especially considering his background.

What’s special about Breaking Bad is that it took a recognizable actor (known previously for playing the comical role of Malcolm’s father in Malcolm in the Middle) and changed his public image within less than a season. Certainly for me, I had forgotten Bryan Cranston was previously a much less serious actor by the time I reached the 3rd episode.

But all the credit can’t go to Bryan. We have to thank the everyone who worked on the show, and especially the show’s creator, Vince Gilligan. Without his initial vision, Bryan Cranston wouldn’t be the A list actor we recognize him as today, and we wouldn’t have the quintessential television show that new contenders model themselves after to this day.

The show also takes a bold approach at cinematography and pacing, one that few shows adopt. There is heavy use of tone and color throughout the seasons, and every episode showcases visually interesting sequences. One of my favorite moments from the show is near the end, in the episode titled “Ozymandias”. The episode starts off by showing us footage from season 1, and slowly every object in the landscape fades until we see the present day. The framing is exactly the same as when the show began at its conception. This attention to detail is exactly what gives Breaking Bad the extra kick that makes it so deserving of all of its acclaim.

ozymandius 1.PNG


Stills from Breaking Bad, “Ozymandias,” (Season 5, Episode 14, 2013.)

click here for an article that compares Breaking Bad to other television greats (ex. The Wire, Mad Men).

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12 Responses to Breaking Boundaries

  1. mediaphiles says:

    I remember binging on the show ‘Breaking Bad’ my freshman year, 3 years ago. That was a great show that i was skeptical about watching after the first 2 boring episodes, but once i reached the 3rd things had gotten serious and i couldn’t stop watching.

    John Armstrong

  2. mediaphiles says:

    Breaking Bad has gotta be one of the best-written shows I’ve ever seen. The show feels so cinematic and grand, and the characters are really what bring this show to its legendary status thanks to consistently great acting all around.

    Cal Parsons

  3. mediaphiles says:

    I am a massive fan of Breaking Bad. It is the first show that I truly binged. I was incapable of watching just one episode at a time. I believe that this show really showed how good television can be when everything comes together so well. Today is sometimes referred to as the golden age of television because of Breaking Bad.

    -Walker Rise

  4. mediaphiles says:

    I love this show! As a female who is not usually in to drug and crime shows like this one, I was surprised at everything else that it had to offer. The acting was excellent and the dynamics of family and friends felt convincingly real. I have not experienced such a well written show since Breaking Bad.
    -Maddie Turner

  5. mediaphiles says:

    Couldn’t agree more with your opinions on the show and its brilliance. As someone who is extremely interested in film, the series does a wonderful job at showcasing amazing moments and cinematic experiences. Another aspect of the show to appreciate, though, is the amazing writing. The overarching story and dialog pieces are beautifully crafted to create great character developments and story.

    -Jake Fallin

  6. mediaphiles says:

    I watched this show a couple summer ago and binge watched about 3 seasons in a week. I agree that the visual cinematography was outstanding; especially in the scenes similar to the ones you screenshotted. The bold colors and lighting really draw your eyes to their purposeful detail and contrast of colors. The visual effects really add to the plotline and created a very realistic picture for the audience. The eerie, green lighting used when Walter is making the drugs portray such creepy and almost dangerous tone for the viewers.

  7. mediaphiles says:

    Unfortunately, I have not had the chance to catch up with Breaking Bad, but I am absolutely thrilled by the possibility of watching it. The way in which you describe both the acting and the aesthetic aspects of the show intrigue me on so many different facets and I will be sure to dive into the show, as soon as I have 72 free hours to binge. I will most likely also take a look at the “Ozymandias” episode, to see the enthralling transition that you mentioned.

  8. mediaphiles says:

    Braking Bad is a masterpiece in terms of character building. They way it blurs the boundaries between good and bad, the way it makes a character convincing, relatable, and understandable, just spectacular! I love how you give credit to both Bryan and Vince Gilligan. They are the heroes.

    -Kevin Yu

  9. mediaphiles says:

    I agree, Breaking Bad is one of the most well done shows of all time in my opinion. From the initial storyline to the execution of that story by the actors and filmmakers, it was a masterpiece for sure.

    -Max Lissette

  10. marymdalton says:

    Quite a conversation here…it’s not The Wire…but, what is?

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