Breaking Bad (2008–2013) was a critically acclaimed American AMC drama about a 50-year-old high school chemistry teacher, Walter White, (played by Bryan Cranston) who discovers that he has terminal lung cancer. Walter decides to use his extensive knowledge of chemistry to enter the drug trade and produce crystal methamphetamine, using the profits to pay for his cancer treatment and provide for his family after his death. The term to "break bad" is American Southeast slang meaning to turn against one's previously lawful lifestyle for one of criminal acts, usually at the cost of someone else's life or well-being.
- Bryan Cranston - Walter White
- Anna Gunn - Skyler White
- Aaron Paul - Jesse Pinkman
- Dean Norris - Hank Schrader
- Betsy Brandt - Marie Schrader
- RJ Mitte - Walter White, Jr.
- Bob Odenkirk - Saul Goodman
- Giancarlo Esposito - Gustavo "Gus" Fring
- Jonathan Banks - Mike Ehrmantraut
About Breaking Bad
- Q: The series has been decorated with so much praise, it’s easy to forget the odds stacked against a show about a terminally ill middle-aged man cooking meth… How aware were you that what you were attempting to do — having your protagonist dramatically change — was radical for TV?
- GILLIGAN: Being a student of television, I realized that in most shows, the characters maintained their characteristics throughout the life of the series. I was very desirous of creating a show where the main character changed. I didn’t think of it in terms of being groundbreaking; I mainly worried that because it was a different take on the structure of a show, it would make it harder to get made…. The meth thing was the elephant in the parlor. I remember thinking, “This thing’s never going to fly because the main character cooks meth and we’re supposed to root for him to some degree. We’re going to get all kinds of static from folks who think this is a bad message to be putting out to the world.” These guys [points at Cranston and Paul] and AMC and Sony seemed less overtly worried about it than I was. Everyone else was a bit more courageous than I was, so we went ahead and did it.
- PAUL: I remember reading things: “Shame on Sony, shame on AMC for greenlighting a show that’s glamorizing the cooking and selling of meth.” All of that quickly went away the moment we hit the air.
- GILLIGAN: It’s pretty impossible to glamorize meth. We didn’t tilt it one way — we just showed it the way it is.
- BRYAN CRANSTON: I remember having discussions when we were ready to promote it. “When they’re talking about the glorifying drug abuse and manufacturing, what should we say?” We all came to an idea: “We’ll talk about what the show is really about. It’s about this man’s decision-making.
- Dan Snierson, “Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, and Vince Gilligan break down everything Breaking Bad”, Entertainment Weekly, (September 28, 2018).