You can feel the electric static buzz in the air around Breaking Bad right now. The show is just THE subject when it comes to television. Something about the amazing, unrelenting transformation of Walter White has completely ensnared the nation, with every single person who is a fan of TV right now up in arms that at the end of this season, Breaking Bad goes bye-bye. And judging from the dark tone that ran through most of the series, I think it’s safe to say Breaking Bad will not have the type of ending where people ride horses off into the sunset.
No, I think it is safe to say there will be bloodshed, and death, and loss on some pretty extreme scales. So not only will we have to bid ado to Breaking Bad, we will probably be forced to do it in a manner that leaves our hearts aching. It will be loss stacked on top of loss. Better call your doctor and get on that Xanax script now. But take comfort in knowing all is not lost. There are a slew of other amazing shows that exist and have existed prior, that will help you get over the immediate and painful withdrawal you will be forced to go through when you are proverbially “cut off” from Walter White.
While I can’t promise you that any of these shows are better than Breaking Bad, I can promise you that they are all enjoyable enough that you won’t be in your room, sweating and having the tremors in your bed if you watch these.
Here are the five shows that will take you from a Breaking Bad addict back to a regular human being. These are the coolest shows that feel the closest to Breaking Bad, easing you out rather than making you go cold turkey. Except for the last one. The last one is just awesome.Next
Orange is the New Black
I really like the first five or so seasons of Weeds, so when I found out creator Jenji Kohan was working on converting the novel Orange is the New Black into a show, I was definitely intrigued. Though I wasn’t sure that a series about some women in a semi upscale prison would hold my interest very long, I couldn’t have been more off. This show will pull you in right away, and the performances have a lot to do with that. As much as you think this show is focused on the Piper character (who, long and the short, is sent away to prison for a year because she was laundering money for her drug running lesbian lover), that is a minor part of the show.
What you really have here is a study of characters. Many colorful and memorable characters, my favorite being Russian matriarch, Red, played by former Star Trek Voyager Captain, Kate Mulgrew. Red, to me, hits me like the Tyrion character from Game of Thrones. She is far smarter than anyone gives her credit for, she knows how to play all sides, and she steals every scene she is in.
But much like ocean blue meth, this show is addictive, and though it is only one season in, that season was produced by Netflix, so all the episodes are available to you to watch at your own pace.
Just don’t do what I did and watch them all in two days. This list is all about pacing, people.Previous Next
Time for us to flash back a bit to a 2002 show that ran on FX called The Shield. The Shield is f*cking kickass, and I cannot understand why I haven’t talked about it until now. It was violent, and shocking, and unflinching, and opened my eyes to a grittier type of television. I honestly believe a show like Breaking Bad would not have worked if a show like The Shield or The Sopranos didn’t have the balls to do some really messed up stuff on TV first.
The Shield is a show about a police precinct in L.A that tends to do things off-the-book. It sort of reminded me of The Wire on HBO for how it gave all sides to the conflict, sometimes showing the bad guys as genuinely bad, and often times also showing them as victims at the hands of the supposed “good.” But really, there was one element about The Shield that stood out to most people.
He played detective Vic Mackay, and he is truly captivating to watch. Though he seems to be the “protagonist” in this complex tale, immediately you come to learn that he is not really a good guy, in the purest sense of the word. He is just a successful guy at getting stuff done. The stuff no one else is willing to do.
If you enjoyed Breaking Bad, there is no way you would not appreciate The Shield.Previous Next
Hell on Wheels
Okay, this may ruffle some feathers, but I really look at Hell on Wheels as “Red Dead Redemption: The TV Show,” and though that blows some minds when I say it, the few people who have played the game and watch the show tend to find it to be a spot-on assessment. Hell on Wheels is one of those shows you watch, and it is so grimy and weathered and hazy, that you start to feel like YOU smell when you are watching it.
Wait, I am getting ahead of myself here.
Hell on Wheels is an AMC show that started in 2011 about one man, former soldier and slave owner (so his hands are CLEARLY not clean), who is following the man who killed his wife, looking for revenge, and ends up being in the middle of the construction of the Transcontinental railroads. What we see is him adjusting to his new life, while still keeping aware of his old one, and encountering a whole slew of new souls, just as lost as him, all looking for their own forms of redemption.
Plus, rapper Common plays a slave who kicks much ass and is like “f*ck this slave shit” and that is kind of cool, and very much Common. But overall, just an engrossing, messed-up tale about the insane manner in which America was built, and the dark cast of characters who helped build it.
Speaking of a dark cast of characters…..Previous Next
Deadwood is, in my honest opinion, outside of BBC’s Misfits, the best show not enough people have seen. Like most of the shows listed here, it is dark, grimy, and there is something about watching it that makes you think your TV is going to develop sores, but that is the very draw of this world.
Deadwood is about a town in the old west that has no law. We follow Seth Bullock and Sol Star as they relocate and try to move on with their lives in the town of Deadwood. It sounds simple, but this is a show for fans of incredible acting and writing. Seeing some of the interactions here remind me why television can be such an amazing medium.
It also introduced me to Ian McShane, who pretty much became my favorite actor the first second I saw him (and heard him) as Al Swearengen, who is the most powerful man in all of Deadwood. There is just something about how McShane carries himself on screen that I find mesmerizing. He scares me. He intimidates me. He makes me wish I was as cool as him.
And in the same breath, he makes me grateful I don’t have to be around him at any point, because he is forcefully intimidating. And he is but one aspect of this multi-tiered ride. Also worth noting is a pre-Justified Timothy Olyphant, who is also unforgettable as the show’s lead with the murky past, Seth.
One warning, though. The language in this show would make DeNiro blush. If you made a drinking game out of taking a shot every time they drop the F bomb on any episode of Deadwood, you would be legally brain dead within the first ten minutes.Previous Next
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Listen, I understand that Walter White’s demons were all pretty much metaphorical, but if you imagine them as LITERAL demons, and imagine him as a nubile young woman who has to LITERALLY fight those demons and kill them to move on with his life, then this is the PERFECT follow-up to Breaking Bad. A sort of ancestor that doesn’t admit it “drunk -screwed” its way into the bloodline one night.
It may not be as cerebral as Breaking Bad, but in the same breath, all the other shows I mentioned are heavy, with seriously dark themes throughout. Buffy the Vampire Slayer at least throws in some pop culture nods and some humor around all that heaviness, just to make the impact less, well, depressing. Think about the episode where Buffy loses her Mom. That is powerful, nihilistic stuff, which is to say, pretty much what every episode of Breaking Bad was like.
But Buffy, for the most part, is incredibly fun, stylish, and knows how to poke fun at itself, which is just the kind of show you need to watch after you are forced to fall in love with Walter White and then inevitably watch him die.
Yup, I said it. Now if you’ll excuse me, after all this heavy talk, I want to go watch the musical episode of Buffy. That always puts me in a good mood.Previous