Why I Don’t Watch Breaking Bad

Time to come clean: I have no interest in watching the show you think is great

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AMC

This is the fourth in a series of Breaking Bad–related stories, all leading up to the series finale airing this Sunday. (Click to read parts one, two and three.) Tomorrow: A conversation with Mark Margolis (a.k.a. Hector Salamanca).

I don’t watch Breaking Bad. Never have. And — though I know you’re not supposed to say never — probably never will.

As Breaking mania ramps up with the approach to the series finale on Sunday, it seems lonelier than ever to be a nonwatcher — even though, practically speaking, most Americans don’t watch Breaking Bad. Most don’t watch any given show, and, especially considering all the shows available on TV and online and on DVD, I don’t watch most shows. Recently, however, Breaking Bad is the one that requires a rock-solid defense, even though it’s one of the ones about which I feel least guilty for not watching. (Sorry, Battlestar Galactica! Soon! I promise!)

The most obvious reason is that there are only so many hours in the day and, sadly, even fewer in which it’s practical to watch television. Everyone has to make choices. See above, re: the huge number of shows available; see above, re: Battlestar.

The corollary to that choice-making is that everyone has certain criteria they apply to make choices about their TV time, even among shows getting good critical notice. (These guidelines must be especially rigid for those of us who don’t give up on a show once we’re in it. Fifteen seasons of ER, I’m looking at you.)

In the case of Breaking Bad, the level of buzz has only reached its current fever pitch in the last couple of seasons; by the time we knew it would be a show everyone would talk about, we also knew it would be a show that was turning stomachs. Any inkling of an urge to binge-watch and catch up was crushed by friends and colleagues who described a sense of relief that the stress of the show would end soon and the way that fans (and even one of its stars!) describe the experience of watching Breaking Bad as physically sickening.

Yes, I know they mean that as a testament to the power of the show. And I totally, completely believe it. Breaking Bad sounds really good. It just doesn’t sound enjoyable, and I’d rather spend my TV time watching something that is. Tuning in would make me like Elaine in that scene from Seinfeld where she keeps sniffing the pen even though she knows it smells weird: I can’t say for sure whether Breaking Bad is too violent for me to like, but I’m certain that I don’t feel the need to find out.

(MORE: Hidden Breaking Bad: The Stuff You May Have Missed)

That’s only half the explanation. After all, “difficult” art is some of the best art there is. A life spent avoiding artistic depictions of cruelty (or sadness or loneliness or any other bad thing you want to avoid in real life) wouldn’t be a rich one at all.

But Breaking Bad has something that most other sad-violent-difficult art does not: recaps.

Obviously, in order to say anything serious or critical or truly thoughtful about the actual goings-on within a show, it’s necessary to watch it. But (especially as someone who writes about pop culture but is not a critic) that’s not necessary in order to think something that’s not so much about the show as it is show-adjacent. If you’re not trying to stay immune from spoilers or to have an actual opinion, it’s very possible to satisfy one’s curiosity about a cultural phenomenon without partaking.

Case in point: I wrote a story last week about “Ozymandias,” a poem that was used as a Breaking Bad episode title. I saw that was the title of the episode and thought that was an interesting reference for any TV show to make, so I read James Poniewozik’s recap and did some research into the poem’s history. Nothing in that piece requires any knowledge of Breaking Bad beyond the name of its main character. Another example: a story about the meaning of the phrase Breaking BadAnother example: what you’re reading right now.

In ye olden pre-recap days, this scenario would not be possible — and perhaps, in the end, that’s mostly an argument against recaps. Following a show at a distance, through other fans’ eyes, means hitching your ideas to someone else’s. It means robbing the Breaking Bad creators of the chance to show you what they’ve got. It means missing the art of it, the camera angles and facial expressions and music cues. On the other hand, maybe it’s better than nothing.

I don’t begrudge anyone his devotion to the show. I hope the finale is nauseating, in the best way possible. I hope every last second is full of realistic violence and psychological torment. And, after it’s over, I hope somebody spoils it for me so I never have to watch.

173 comments
shahdeldel
shahdeldel

Honestly your style of writing is sickening and dripping with disdain. I recommend you change it.

shahdeldel
shahdeldel

before you write whole articles about something it would be good to do some research, like actually watching the show first.... it would just give you more credibility that way, naturally. Also you try too hard to sound smart when you write and you just end up sounding like a pretentious moron

Markteres
Markteres

Good article. I didn't watch the show for the same exact reasons. If people don't have enough suffering in their own lives and need a refill from fiction, then it's OK to watch it, I guess. I'd rather watch something beautiful. Beauty will save the world.

Badfan
Badfan

You're truly an idiot

steviewalsh
steviewalsh

That's why I'm not gonna read the bible. Too much buzz, sounds violent and there are all these clergymen giving recaps. I hope the hero dies in the end in a really gruesome way and someone spoils it for me.

arizonaguy87
arizonaguy87

TL;DR

I haven't watched Breaking Bad because the story sounds too gruesome.

Also, please click this bombastic article title so I can show my boss that I'm a good ClickBait Monkey.

KeithLampman
KeithLampman

Don't worry you didn't miss anything. Like all TV Today. Everything is either a Reality Show, Lame Comedy or a High Budget Soap Opera that only people who have nothing better to do with their lives have time for. Give me Shawshank Redemption, Citizen Kane, 12 Angry Men, China Town and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Any Day.

LaurenSmith
LaurenSmith

I too avoided watching Breaking Bad but have watched series one to four over a week and am so glad I did It  has angered me, made me sad and totally wrung me out emotionally like a rag. Great acting and story lines it has been a  wonderful experience I will savour the last series real soon.

KennethLyngaas
KennethLyngaas

I agree with "what a nothing post", the web invites to a black and white ; like or not like way of writing. this gave me absolutely nothing to make me have any standpoint or even  could learn about the series. However, watching just 2-3 episodes I much say there is not been any television series since  Twin-peaks as brilliantly catching his audience. Last, the post is not bad in 

ozzmatt83
ozzmatt83

what  nothing article. i clicked (i guess that means the site gets another hit) to see if there was a compelling commentary about... something.. it's just 800 words that say i don't watch because i have no time plus people blog about it. 

sadWengy
sadWengy

I've read better, more thought-provoking LiveJournal posts detailing what someone ate for breakfast one day. Truly an insulting article to actual good writers out there busting their asses to get any pay or recognition at all. Lily Rothman is to blame for barfing this garbage out in the first place, but who's green-lighting this? Shameful.

aclima1000
aclima1000

This story is what turns my stomach- Seriously? Fifteen seasons of ER? Of the same repetitive drama and recycled story lines?

Breaking Bad was an amazing show. The ending was poetic, unique, embracing, karmic- it was a phenomenal ending to a phenomenal show.

If I where you lady I flush ER and watch a real show for a change.

lapetitecollette
lapetitecollette

i just don't understand how you could possibly form these opinions without even watching the show... i've never been a huge fan of television, let alone any particular television series, but breaking bad is extremely unique because it feels so REAL. i truly think that the writers and producers have set a very high standard that will be very tough to beat- ever watch a show that everyone else said was amazing, then think "there's no way that could happen", or "hey, what about the guy they let go who knows about such-and-such event", or "there's no way he/she could get away with that in real life" (cough cough *WEEDS* cough cough). BB is great in that it accounts for every mistake made by a character, every lie that character tells, every bad decision made... absolutely NOTHING in that show is unaccounted for. i understand the notion of being suspicious of what tons of people say is great, but honestly in this case, deal with it. i'm sorry, but yeah, someone finally paid attention and made something amazing. your loss, man. as a writer, i think you'd really appreciate it.

NiteShade
NiteShade

I get my fill of anti-heroes watching Game of Thrones. I don't need/want to follow a meth maker/distributer, regardless his excuse.

JasonSonnieLitzenberg
JasonSonnieLitzenberg

Breaking Bad was an okay show that never stood a chance at being great. We knew from the first episode that there was no way for the protagonist to live to spend his money. The unwillingness of the creators, and AMC to violate the (current American) moral obligation was there from the word go. SPOILER ALERT!! Every success had a draw back from start to finish. It was like watching a ping pong match. Instant karmic retribution in real time isn't bold, it's a cop out. Malcolm's father killed people (indirectly) and therefore deserved to die, how original. The last four episodes hinge not only on an unlikely misunderstanding, but on characters behaving not only inconsistent with their previous selves, but also with reality. it was painful to watch. i wish this show nothing but the best, but it stands to reason that The Sopranos + Weeds = Breaking Bad. Way to go.   

smith.jamie
smith.jamie

Well kudos to you for your piece on your proud lack of knowledge on a subject. I hate to be negative - but this article was a waste of your considerable talents. An entire article about how you don't watch a show? This is nothing but a desperate grab for clicks. Your bosses told you to write something about Breaking Bad because it would generate interest which makes this a troll-piece and worthless as pop-commentary. Your writing is great - but what a waste of text this article is. Please explain how one person's desire to not watch a show should be of any concern to anyone who is not you. I'd love to hear a thoughtful response to this query. You could have just said "I am ignorant on the subject and proud" and left it at that. 

WillyK
WillyK

Lily whilst I strongly disagree with the narrative of this article, I will invite you to the opportunity to cite what TV shows you do enjoy. When you want to "spend [your] TV time"

beveledge
beveledge

You could have actually watched an episode in the time you spent writing that article. 

THern
THern

For cri-yi-yi, people...

It's. A. Television. Show.  All this vitriol, over a television show. One would think that this writer were flat-out insulting all of you personally, or your mothers, or your children or your religion or your alma mater or something else that might really freaking matter. It's a TELEVISION show. Investing this much sputtering, self-righteous indignity over an entertainment medium is laughable, if not cringe-inducing.

I know, I know...everyone has a right to sputter as much as they want. But people really oughtta self-check if they're going to hyperventilate over someone else's opinion (informed or not) of an hour of violent entertainment. Or maybe they oughtta self-check that they actually ENJOY violent entertainment. Who am I to say that beatdowns, torture, executions, lots of screaming and pain infliction and cruelty all around aren't gosh-danged fine entertainment...either way...it's a freakin' television show. 

MarthaFlemmingz
MarthaFlemmingz

I completely respect and understand why you don't watch but i LOVE breaking bad!! I like its honesty,  from the very first episode its grungy and never glamorizes the type of lifestyle one will lead when involved with this drug and others. Most likely prevented at least one person from ever using this drug , ect.  Pretty Woman has to be the worst for making such a horrid existence seem so care free and happy. Lost all respect for Julia Roberts and everyone else involved.  Storm Steinberg not everyone is going to like the same things. Fkn hell, calm down before you hurt yourself.  You clearly are a very angry person who lives with much hate.

StormSteinberg
StormSteinberg

Hello,

I just got finished reading your article on how you don't watch breaking bad. I just wanted to let you know that after seeing your picture on the time.com website and reading some of your comments in the article about how you watch Battlestar Galactica I can sort of get a feel of what kind of person you are you are.

clearly a nerd or geeky girl who clearly in high school and probably throughout college didn't have many friends, but You were clearly dedicated to your writing and other peoples opinions probably didn't matter to you (that is a stretch, you probably learned to let it roll off your back after a while, but probably cried for many years about how you were so lonely and no one liked you and called you a freak).

peoples opinions definitely did bother you when you're picked on and tormented throughout your years as a youth you are clearly a loser and probably didn't have many friends at all when you were growing up I can see that a show like breaking bad wouldn't pertain to your liking because you are the type of person Who enjoys fantasy and something that takes you out of this world rather than anything that is pertaining to real life's or real-life things you probably had a horrible life growing up and if you didn't you had a waste of a youth at least because A life like yours is not worth the oxygen, especially watching Battlestar Galactica and you're probably a trekkie too.

so i just felt like it was important to let you know that nobody cares about your opinions and you should probably stop writing altogether because your whole life nobody has cared of you and clearly as you can see from comments on your article that he wrote no one cares about you now either so you should probably just give up you are a nerd and you cant understand the art and some of the danger and realness of breaking bad because you are most likely a person who has been holed up in front of a computer or a notebook the majority of your life.

I take pity on such pathetic nerds such as yourself. You would rather waste your life fantasizing about what could of been or what other, more interesting people, do with their lives, and you would rather be critical of something you dont understand (because you most likely grew up a bookworm and loser and did not experience anything fun or cool ever in your life) than embrace something as art and step out into the real world and experience something for once. To me, you are still that sad little girl who can't understand why she was picked last in softball on the playground.

I hate people like you with a passion; it is one thing to be intelligent and dedicated to your work; it is another thing to be critical of interesting people and the interesting things they do or create because YOU never took the risk or the step out of your safe zone, which was probably your computer room or the library. You are the equivalent of a world of warcraft gamer or magic card player who lives in a fantasy because the real world wont except your annoying bookish freak self.

So keep your asinine comments to yourself. As far as im concerned you should never write an article again and sit in your room and reread the harry potter books for the rest of eternity. You are a complete loser and you should go back to sparing society your presence as you did when you were a kid. If i had known you in school growing up i would have never looked your way twice, but probably have made fun of you terribly behind your

Back. But then again you were probably homeschooled. Freak.

Shut up and leave the rest of society alone we dont need you

myepicyear
myepicyear

This will probably go down as one of the most unpopular articles of the year. :-)

MidwestPride
MidwestPride

lol Look at all these pissed off BB fans. It's a f_ckin' show people.

Hatch909
Hatch909

Though you're not supposed to say never - I will probably never read anything by you again.

Who wants to read about popular culture by a writer that is afraid to delve into what is going on in popular culture unless it's about candy canes, unicorns and kittens on youtube.

It's this kind of anti-intellectual thinking that gives pop culture a bad name. Regardless of the content, if something rises to the level of being part of general discussion, it deserves some thought and attention. Why is Honey Boo Boo so compelling to millions of people? What are the ramifications of treating opinions expressed on the View like those on Meet the Press? And it may not be Bach, but PSIs Gangnam Style getting almost 2 billion views on youtube says there is probably something there that deserves some thought and words.

I'm already regretting saying hat I would never read you again. I'd love to see what you write about my comment, but it's too early in the morning for sickenly sweet prose ;)

rustyshacklberg
rustyshacklberg

I HAVE WATCHED BREAKING BAD, BUT I JUST CAN NOT GET INTO IT. , THE SAME THING WITH DEXTER AND BIG BANG THEORY. I JUST DO NOT GET IT. 

SidneyPhillips
SidneyPhillips

For the longest time I refused to watch both Dexter and Breaking Bad because I generally don't like shows about drugs, murder, etc. However, so many friends and colleagues recommended these shows I finally gave in and was hooked. As for Dexter, though it is about a serial killer, you rarely see anything bloody and gruesome. Breaking Bad does involve Meth production and distribution, and it does have its violent moments, but for the most part its not that bad.

jordonkay
jordonkay

I could care less whether or not you watch Breaking Bad, but let's be honest here: You wrote an article about a show you don't watch because at present, 'Breaking Bad' is a more lucrative keyword than the usual 'iPhone 6 rumors' article,  and when internet media targets a particularly popular cultural meme like a famous series coming to an end, a good strategy to cut through the saturation is to simply bait people by being controversial and critical of a show which people, including me, really like.

So, good marketing effort, I guess - way to keep your revenue and click count up as high as more esteemed online media outlets such as TMZ, WorldNetDaily, etc.

Not to be too cynical but TIME magazine seriously just published an article about nothing. Seinfeld would be proud maybe, but why not take a minute to really think about how far such a  previously esteemed brand like TIME has apparently sunk in order to keep those page-views up. Though in fairness, at least you didn't also break up your column about not writing a column into like a 10-part slideshow. Probably, that's for next year: when TIME divides it's person of the year into twelve persons of the month (click HERE for part 2 of 12 plus a new banner ad!). Oh well, at least it will be an actual person, not an article about why you aren't picking a person of the year, this year (see slideshow for details, brought to you by our sponsor, amway.)

Get real TIME magazine before its too late! Have some dignity!

TerenceFrancis
TerenceFrancis

I have a dear, beloved child addicted to Meth and the central theme of this makes m nauseous. The are 2-3 great performances there, which normally would tempt me into watching...

abooachoo
abooachoo

Writing an opinion about something that you have no firsthand knowledge about is called 'prejudice,' where I come from.

jeaniechampagne
jeaniechampagne

Pa - lease!  It's only entertainment!  I want someone to tell me and others if anyone's lifestyle has been changed or altered in any way - just by watching Breaking Bad?  There are, I agee, some eye squinting moments throughout the episodes, I just take a deep breath and chuckle because there is lots of humor in the writing - a masterpiece.  Breaking Bad is not a disturbing piece of work - as is some entertainment today.  And after Sunday night, the fans will wear their t-shirts and move on to their next venture --  simple.  Difficult to believe the fans lead normal lives?  They do!

dwiele
dwiele

typical dumb slag. guess thats what i get for reading "entertainment.com"

Badfan
Badfan

You're an idiot too.

#libtardedamerica
#libtardedamerica

@sadWengy  

man, someone's butt-hurt over her dislike of BB. it's ok dude, one person writing about how she doesn't watch it doesn't ruin it's legacy

Nil_Einne
Nil_Einne

@StormSteinberg Um except the author actually said they hadn't watched Battlestar Galactica yet .... 

shutupsocks
shutupsocks

@StormSteinberg i understand your anger towards a breaking bad hater, but you missed the main point here. as we all know, breaking bad is a brilliant show, and everyone the writer ever comes in contact with has probably told her over and over with exact reasons.  if she ever watched it, she wouldn't hate it it. the fact of the matter is, a few seasons ago, if she started hearing about it from the right people, she might have given it a chance, but it became too popular before she ever gave it a try and now it is much more fashionable to say, "i don't watch breaking bad. never have, never will." very hipster. its also a defense mechanism. she's late to the party now and she wouldn't be able to hold her own in the subculture as a casual watcher. her under-researched opinions and theories would be overlooked and forgotten by her peers. she can get way more attention as a hater, and exponentially more as someone who has never watched the show. everyone else will be fighting over her for the opportunity to convert her. its just an overly obvious troll, like a skeptic walking into a sunday morning service and announcing that he doesn't believe in god. but breaking bad fandom is not unlike a religion, and as our scriptures say: ‘If that’s true, if you don’t know who I am, then maybe your best course… would be to tread lightly.’ -blood money s05e09

knightninja45
knightninja45

@StormSteinberg "I take pity on such pathetic nerds such as yourself."......"I hate people like you with a passion"

Hmmmm, quite a bit of emotion and contradictory there. If I were to guess, I'd assume with all these insults and descriptions for a simple article, you must actually be describing yourself or a life you once lived and are ashamed of.

Please don't ever speak for the rest of society, we don't need your horrible opinions or endless novels of hate.


Here's the National Suicide Hotline #: 1-800-273-8255

aravistarkheena2
aravistarkheena2

@Hatch909 wrote: Though you're not supposed to say never - I will probably never read anything by you again.


I suspect he'll cope.

RickTucker
RickTucker

@rustyshacklberg I don't know i was hooked by the second episode. big bang theory is crap so you're not alone there. Even though madmen won 4 best show awards in a row, i can't get into it. The acting, setting, and scenery are great but not enough happens, it's unbearably slow.

KeithLampman
KeithLampman

@jordonkay So your saying is. If its popular it must be good. Wow than Michael Bay Transformers must be a masterpiece.

smith.jamie
smith.jamie

@jordonkay ^ This. Exactly. Troll-piece for clicks. Sad times for Yale grads I guess. My work might sometimes be dull and I did not have the benefits of an ivy-league education but it offers real value to the world and I am proud of it. Lily - anyone flipping burgers today contributed more to society than you did.  

MidwestPride
MidwestPride

@abooachoo You should probably look up the meaning of prejudice and tell the people where you come from that the community's usage is less than accurate.

DanielWraySwesey
DanielWraySwesey

 @jeaniechampagne some people act loke it does,i was on IGN the other day and told someone breaking bad as great as a drama it is, is in no way life altering, i was told i didnt understand breaking bad, i laughed, but then again, im not in my early 20's anymore, so maybe that's why.

dinguslap
dinguslap

@jackerella @jordonkay Give me a break, that comment was great and you had to add your stupid, worthless correction (that may have been a typo anyway).  

knightninja45
knightninja45

@MidwestPride @abooachoo No actually he's perfectly correct in the use of prejudice in regards to this article. The word is just so often used in relation to ''racial prejudice" it doesn't seem correct in any other context.