All right, I get it. Breaking Bad was a good show. Personally, I didn’t screamingly-shit-my-pants-non-stop-excited over it for four seasons like some people. But I get where they’re coming from. I enjoyed it well enough as I caught upon Netflix, watched the last half-season on schedule, and certainly breathed a weary, albeit satisfied sigh, when it came to an end. Spoiler: Walter White goes into witness protection and gets a new family of weirdos with a shrieking harpy of a wife.
I figured, with the story of Walt and his magic drug formula or whatever over, Eric would shut the fuck up about it and we could all get on with our lives to look for the next great show/overhyped show/season of Game of Thrones. But, much like herpes and sex addiction, it seems the ordeal wasn’t truly over. And maybe never will be. Because as the months have crept on since the much-lauded finale, I’ve noticed a terrible trend: more and more shows seem to be trying harder and harder to be Breaking Bad. And it’s fucking exhausting.
Through some sort of post-mortem osmosis, the elements of the show that so many people raved about like it was the goddamn moon landing made out of breasts and chocolate for years on end have begun to slowly seep into the rest of television. Uncharacteristically dark episodes and arcs. Cruel or dangerous flaws popping up in main characters. The increasingly frequent “shocking death.” And, of course, the fact that Jonathan Banks seems to be in everything lately (I’m actually pretty okay with that one).
Law & Order: SVU has given one of its detectives a serious gambling addiction that has led to tragedy, deception, guns against the stomachs of pregnant mothers, and rape. Raylan Givens of Justified has gone from a caring but harsh old-school lawman to just shooting whoever the hell he feels like. The Walking Dead has tried to focus on the slow, brooding depths of its character’s shady souls, which is godawful because they’re all pretty boring and we all just want to see Norman Reedus and Danai Gurira just re-kill the everliving crap out of the undead hordes. And has anybody been watching this season of Community (now co-starring Jonathan Banks!)? I mean, it’s had some great gags and all, but so many moments have been seriously, deeply depressing.
Maybe it’s all just a big coincidence. Maybe I’m imagining the whole dagburned thing. Maybe it’s a vast right-wing/left-wing/middle wing/chicken wing/the cast of Wings conspiracy. But I think I’m onto something. And you probably agree with me, because I’m smart and awesome and I’ve sexed like a billion pretty ladies. It could be a symptom of the oft-complained about trend of television to emulate whatever was most recently popular, ignoring the fact that most people probably want something new/innovative/naked. Or maybe it’s unconscious, what with so many people having loved Breaking Bad, and just what happens when a piece of entertainment becomes so widely revered. Or maybe the universe is a cold and terrible place that hates all variety, choice, and joy.
I’m happy to have a variety of programs that I watch regularly. Some make me laugh, others make me think, one in particular reminds me of my undying love of Mariska Hargitay, and Supernatural makes me feel slightly ashamed while still deeply enjoying it. I don’t want to see them all become plodding, haunting character studies driven by a great actor playing a fundamentally terrible person with a fandom fueled by people’s love of watching others suffer in absurd ways. Viewers who like that kind of shit already have House of Cards, so leave the rest of us alone.
I mean what the fuck am I going to see next? Phil Dunphy starts burying hookers in his back yard? Tom Haverford dies in a hail of gunfire after robbing the First Bank of Pawnee and shooting Donna execution style? Archer does a season based on the whole cast losing their government contract and going into the sale of a literal ton of cocaine? Wait…
All right, TV, that’s one for you. Well played. But I’m still watching you (PUN)!