I know I’m in a minority, and admit that I finally started watching the first few episodes of Breaking Bad only a few months ago and stopped. Why? Because I realized, right away, that this was serious acting and serious writing and if I was ever going to fully enjoy it, I’d have to give up more than I could at the time to focus on just how amazing the show was.
Now that the series has ended — and I’ve been spoiled over how things finished — I’m itching to finally sit down and watch it from Day One. But, even without having watched the series, I can tell you I learned a few things from this outstanding piece of work:
- Great storylines do not need a happy ending. They do, however, need closure.
- The best storytelling involves lots and lots of conflict. And then a bit more.
- Engaging the audience comes only when a character’s decisions feel real. Captivating that audience happens when the character’s decisions force other situations that invoke even more difficult decisions.
- In a story, doing the right thing sometimes means doing the wrong thing. And that makes for major fireworks.
- Foreshadowing can be powerful. Writing is, in many ways, all about the subtext.
- Same with well-placed symbolism.
- Knock ‘em dead writing pulls no punches. It will wrench the audience’s gut and twist their hearts, and by the time they realize they’re biting their nails it’s already too late. And they’ll love you for it.
- It also offers characters, or personality traits, that hit too close to home sometimes.
- The best storylines take the implausible and make it real. They will never take the wussy road or a shortcut. If there’s drama to be had, it’ll shove it right in your face.
Now it’s your turn. As a viewer, reader, or writer, what did you get out of Breaking Bad?
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