Overview

This hugely popular TV show ran for 5 seasons, scooping 16 Emmy awards and garnering plenty of critical acclaim. Widely regarded as one of the greatest TV shows of all time, it was followed by prequel series Better Call Saul and sequel movie El Camino. Breaking Bad aired on AMC and now streams on Netflix. If you’re a fan of The Wire, The Sopranos or Narcos, you’ll love Breaking Bad.

The Vince Gilligan created series stars Bryan Cranston as chemistry teacher turned drug kingpin Walter White, with Aaron Paul as his former student and partner Jesse Pinkman.

Premise

When Walter White is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer, he’s left with the realization that his treatment is unaffordable and his family will be left with nothing after his death. A chance encounter on a ride along with his brother in law and DEA agent Hank Schrader leads Walt to manufacturing crystal meth to earn enough cash to leave to his family and pay for his cancer treatment in the meantime. Together with his ex-student and partner Jesse, Walt builds his empire from an old RV turned into a portable meth lab – with plenty of tragedies, shocking twists and explosive confrontations along the way.

Cast and characters

  • Bryan Cranston – Walter White
  • Aaron Paul – Jesse Pinkman
  • Anna Gunn – Skyler White
  • Dean Norris – Hank Schrader
  • Steven Michael Quezada – Steve Gomez
  • Bob Odenkirk – Saul Goodman
  • Giancarlo Esposito – Gus Fring
  • Mark Margolis – Hector Salamanca
  • Raymond Cruz – Tuco Salamanca
  • Steven Bauer – Don Eladio
  • Jonathan Banks – Mike Ehrmantraut
  • Betsy Brandt – Marie Schrader
  • RJ Mitte – Walter White Jr.
  • John de Lancie – Donald Margolis
  • Krysten Ritter – Jane Margolis
  • Emily Rios – Andrea Cantillo
  • Jesse Plemons – Todd
  • Michael Bowen – Uncle Jack
  • Laura Fraser – Lydia Rodarte-Quayle
  • Krysten Ritter – Jane Margolis
  • David Costabile – Gale Boetticher
  • Adam Godley – Elliott Schwartz
  • Jessica Hecht – Gretchen Schwartz
  • Matt Jones – Badger
  • Charles Baker – Skinny Pete
  • Christopher Cousins – Ted Beneke
  • Max Arciniega – Krazy-8

Filming locations

Breaking Bad is set in Albuquerque, New Mexico – though action from the show frequently crosses the border into Mexico. The show was filmed on location in Albuquerque, and it’s even possible to view many of the locations seen in the show today on self-guided or guided tours. Familiar locations include the Octopus Car Wash (the A1A Car Wash), Ace Metals (one of the locations used for Rocker Salvage), Civic Plaza, Java Joe’s (Tuco’s ‘office’), Crossroads Motel (‘the Crystal Palace’) and Twisters Restaurant (Los Pollos Hermanos).

Production

Vince Gilligan created and executive produced Breaking Bad, and also wrote and directed several episodes. He has said that the idea for the series sprang from a joke he made with Tom Schnauz, who went on to be a writer on Breaking Bad: ‘he and I were bemoaning the fact that TV and movie jobs were not coming as easy as we had hoped…We were just joking around on the phone about what we should do next: Should we be greeters at Wal-Mart? Should we put a meth lab in the back of an RV and cook meth and drive around the southwest? And that image…just stuck with me.’

Gilligan described Breaking Bad as ‘you take Mr. Chips and turn him into Scarface’.

Episodes and reception

Breaking Bad started in 2008 and ran for five seasons, ending in 2013. The series was consistently well reviewed by critics and audiences alike. Episode 13 of season 5, titled ‘Ozymandias’, even has a stunning 10/10 stars on IMDb, and the series as a whole has a critics score of 96% on Rotten Tomatoes – with a 98% audience score.

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