Breaking Bad Has Made Me Less Tolerant of Mediocre TV

Breaking Bad

It occurred to me while watching the TV series Hannibal: “This is a really good-looking, artistically done show, but I could not possibly care less about the characters in it.” There are other flaws with Hannibal, too, most of them having to do with plausibility. In the past, I think I would have overlooked these flaws. I might have watched the show for its shock value alone. Who knew that you could get away with such graphic, gruesome violence on network TV? Here’s the thing, though: none of that violence affects me in even the slightest way. It’s so over the top that it’s downright cartoonish. A serial killer who plays his victims’ vocal chords like a cello? Yeah, it’s bloody, but it’s also bloody ridiculous. Contrast that with the violence in Breaking Bad. There has been some pretty gruesome stuff there, too: a corpse being dissolved in acid, a character having his throat slit, another having half his face blown off by a bomb. Yet, none of it has been gratuitous because it has all served the plot, rather than the plot serving it. That’s one difference between a mediocre show like Hannibal and a great show like Breaking Bad. The horror in Breaking Bad feels so much more real, because you’ve come to know and sympathize with the characters. Continue reading

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