Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Comedy of Breaking Bad

The epic television show dark comedy "Breaking Bad" has finally come to its conclusion and our favorite anti-hero/villain, Walter White, well...spoiler alert!

What, did you expect a guy with terminal cancer to ride off into the sunset?

If you're one of those people that hasn't seen the show yet, then this post isn't for you. Go catch up and then come back, as there's probably going to be spoilers ahead.

One of the reasons why a show like "Breaking Bad" works, and why a show like "Low Winter Sun" doesn't, is because of the humor injected into the drama.  Creator Vince Gilligan is noted for his dark humor which he brought to the X-files.  That sharp wit, paired with his dark humor led his meteoric rise from show writer to co-executive producer in just a few years.  Gilligan has been quoted as saying, "comedy and drama as "two muscles in the same arm."

Although "Breaking Bad has always been a dark comedy more than a drama, it has been able to shift gears because it is a dark comedy with dramatic elements.  Writing dark comedy is one of the most difficult genres to write effectively.  If you go too dark, you run the risk of losing your audience.  "Breaking Bad" succeeds because even though it is a dark comedy, its dramatic elements are so incredibly well done, the audience is tricked into "drama mode" without being none the wiser.

Very few shows could have two junkies talking about their idea for a "Star Trek" episode and then switch to high drama without skipping a beat.  Speaking of that "Star Trek" idea, someone went and animated it:

Vince Gilligan also chose to have actual comedians play in dramatic roles. Bob Odenkirk was already a good actor prior to his stint on "Breaking Bad," and has forever earned his comedic stripes for "Mr. Show," but Odenkirk turned what was supposed to be a one off role into a reoccurring role and one of the central characters to the show. He's even getting his own spinoff "Better Call Saul."

But long before Odenkirk was a criminal attorney he was involved in a half million dollar drug deal.

Gilligan also cast stand up comedian Lavell Crawford in the role of Huell.
Lavell Crawford interview

As well as veteran stand up comedian Bill Burr. Bill Burr interview

Unless you purchased the dvd sets (or rented the physical sets) or were a super fan, you might have missed the Breaking Bad minisodes.  The minisodes aired on the web and were included with the boxed sets of "Breaking Bad."  The minisodes were a lot more light-hearted than the overall series. 

One episode featured Hank dressed in a "Boss Hogg" outfit about to marry Marie, having a man to man discussion with Walt about how he slipped up and accidentally cheated on Marie after his bachelor party.  Unfortunately for Hank, the bar was the "Ivory Swallow" with a girl named "Joan Crawford."  (For those of you who don't know, Joan Crawford's name was a stage name selected by the public for the up and coming actress Lucille Fay LeSueur via a contest.) You can watch all of the minisodes here on AMC

There have also been endless memes and comic also created for Breaking Bad:

"70's comic book Twinkie ad" 

There is even a "Breaking Bad" cartoon generator that anyone can use to make their own cartoons:

 And, of course, "Breaking Bad" has spawned a lot of spoofs, or mash ups.  Some of them have been very well done:


Although everyone is sad that "Breaking Bad" is now over, and there's really nothing on t.v. that's equivalent to it.  I am glad that Jesse did get away, and wasn't forever "Meth Damon's" Meth Slave.

We'll miss you, "Breaking Bad" and your Baby Blue dark comedy.

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