Pop Culture Intervention

I Watched My First Episode Of 'Breaking Bad,' And It Was Nothing Like I Expected

So ... it's funny?

Until yesterday, I had never watched a single episode of Breaking Bad.

I realize I've just confessed a cardinal sin in the religion that is television (trust me, I'm devout), but I'm not sorry. There are a lot of shows to watch, both old and new, and this one just wasn't a priority for me. I've never been one for crime dramas, and the insurmountable hype was never enough to convince me. So I let it languish in my Netflix queue while I watched the same episode of 30 Rock seven times instead.


This week, however, I decided it was about time I saw what all the fuss was about — at least for one episode. For a show I had heard so much about, I had somehow managed to avoid spoilers and hadn't even seen many clips, so I went into the pilot with few expectations ... except, it turns out, for one pretty big one.

Now that I've watched it, I'm ready to call out anyone who's ever recommended this show — to me or anyone else — without mentioning one very important detail.

Why didn't anyone ever tell me it was so funny?

And before you even ask, yes, I knew about the roof pizza. I had just assumed, in the context of the scene, that it wasn't meant to be funny. At the very least, I thought maybe it was something akin to Mad Men's infamous lawn mower scene — an absurd and unexpectedly hilarious moment in the midst of all the drama.

There was certainly plenty of humor on Mad Men, but "funny" wouldn't even be in the top five adjectives I'd use to describe the show to someone who hadn't seen it. In contrast, my main takeaway from the Breaking Bad pilot was the comedy.

So why don't I remember anyone ever mentioning it? I remember people saying how good the show was, how good Bryan Cranston was as Walter White, how shocked people were over the deaths and the plot twists and the cliffhangers, how "Ozymandias" was more than just a poem I read in English class — it was also the greatest episode of television in history.

I also remember seeing that "I am the one who knocks" scene and thinking the show looked way too dark for my taste. Now I'm thinking maybe it was a just the beginning of a very terrifying knock-knock joke.

In retrospect, I really should have known it would be funny. After all, it was created by Vince Gilligan, the writer behind some of the funniest X-Files episodes — including my absolute favorite, "Bad Blood." Then there's the fact, which can be easy to forget, that Bryan Cranston made a name for himself on Malcolm in the Middle.

As I watched the episode, all those pieces began to fit together, and when Walt uttered that line about his boss's eyebrows, it was official — this was a show I could get behind.

And it wasn't just the dialogue that tickled my funny bone. There was a humorous thread running through the entire hour, from Walt cooking meth in his tighty-whities to the slapstick quality of the climax. (Really, who throws a burning cigarette into desert brush?)

Sure, it's definitely a drama, and the comedy that is there is pretty dark. (How could it not be, given the subject matter?) But there is comedy, and if it hadn't been there, I'm not sure I would have enjoyed the show half as much as I did, if at all. I'm a firm believer that even the most serious stories and situations could do with a little humor now and then, and Breaking Bad goes above and beyond.

I know better than to jump to conclusions about a show after only one episode, but let's just say that if this tone stays consistent, I may have a few binge sessions in my future.

So there. Are you all happy now?

Cover image via s_bukley / Shutterstock.com


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