The main reason I would insist that Breaking Bad, which made its glorious final return to our televisions on Sunday, is perpetually underrated is that it’s virtually impossible to overstate just how good this show is.
We’re in an era where there are few singular pinnacles of achievement that are universally accepted as great. There are Breaking Bad fans, but there are also Game of Thrones fans, Mad Men peeps, Walking Dead enthusiasts, all claiming their favorites are the greatest TV shows of all time. The sad passing of James Gandolfini brought out many voices reasserting that The Sopranos is the best or at least the most important TV drama of all time and the default choices for numbers two and three on that podium are Deadwood and The Wire. The debate over the best and the pluralistic nature of modern cultural opinion—generally positive aspects of the current climate—might as well fall by the wayside for the time being.
It’s certainly standing on top of these aforementioned lofty shoulders, but Vince Gilligan’s show has to be considered modern television’s Michael Jordan: other shows may exist in the same medium, the same league, but Breaking Bad is operating on a level higher than any other, gliding over all as it were. It’s easy to disregard as slick trash given its fanboyish base of followers, especially if you’re, you know, lazy.
I’d say it’s more of a testament to the cast and crew of the show that it functions as compelling drama, suspenseful action, Shakespearean tragedy, cinematic expression and dark comedy all at once. Works that appeal to what’s considered the high and low ends of the spectrum of appreciation of art are especially valuable because they expose the two for being rather arbitrarily distinct and far more similar than either side would freely admit. Great art doesn’t have to be a slog, and entertainment doesn’t have to be dumb.
Here are 10 reasons Breaking Bad deserves to be universally recognized as TV’s greatest achievement thus far.
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