Breaking Bad wrapped up on Sunday night to obscene numbers in this day and age. It brought in over 10 million viewers in the U.S. and commanded a 30 second spot rate upwards of $400,000 according to AdAge.
So how is it that Breaking Bad went from a relatively unknown show to a TV titan? You could say it’s the writers, actors, directors…who are all integral to the shows success, but let’s dig a little deeper.
How many shows are based around police, firefighters or lawyers? How many shows are like CSI & NCIS? Hell, how many different versions of CSI and NCIS exist? Also, how many shows are set in New York, LA or Chicago?
Before Breaking Bad, how many shows were based in New Mexico? How many were based around a high-school chemistry teacher turned drug kingpin? How many shows had a continuous narrative and didn’t wrap up with a solution to the crime or storyline every episode?
Breaking Bad was developed on a whim by a struggling writer and his friend who were willing to take a chance on what sounded like an insane idea. The show was never written to achieve ratings or awards. It was written and created by someone who loved to write and write differently. Vince Gilligan and Co. took the formulaic TV script, gave it the finger and said let’s try something different. Let’s turn a middle-class chemistry teacher dying of cancer into a murderer, meth-cooker and multi-millionaire. Let’s have our characters say, “fuck, shit, bitch,…” Turns out, some people liked Vince’s insane idea. Those few crazies were all the show needed to get the snow ball rolling, eventually turning it into an avalanche of support, awards, you name it.
Breaking Bad was the odd looking kid in the classroom; it was the ugly duckling. It was different and in this copy cat, over communicated society, it stood out. Stood out to the tune of 10 million viewers and $400,000 per spot.