Vince Gilligan is the man behind Breaking Bad, which is about to end just as masses of people have become addicted after mainlining marathons on Netflix. The success of the show owes a good deal to a great idea, but owes more to a commitment to follow that idea through with the help of a great cast, great writers, and AMC, the cable network that decided to take risks on great stories. Breaking Bad has been a slow burn with ratings, collecting loyal viewers over the past several years at a steady momentum while it loaded up on awards. Sometimes when a quality show doesn’t draw in a huge audience right away, it gets killed before it can even get legs, but thankfully basic cable channel AMC’s experience with making great television has been more about staying true to the story than trying to snag epic ratings right away. Part of he reason they were able to take these risks is because they were in a different position in the market than the big network heavy hitters. (I’m still angry about Freaks & Geeks and My So-Called Life, by the way!)
As for Breaking Bad, the concept of a regular person undergoing a complete personality and life change when faced with some overwhelming situations, is fairly simple, and seems like an obvious television trope, but it’s not. Most the TV “bad guys” we’ve come to know and love were already bad when we met them. While we witnessed an intense transformation of Tony Soprano from a conflicted, and maybe in denial, bad guy to a personality full of nothing but darkness, we’ve never had a character change from a good-hearted hardworking regular Joe into an extreme, ruthless villain on television, especially with such depth and complexity.
“It it seemed to me that the one thing that was missing in that equation, as far as TV shows went, was the idea of growth and change within a character’s life,” Gilligan told The Hollywood Reporter. “I think what Breaking Bad brings is fundamental transformation of its main character.”
Another thing that makes Breaking Bad stand out is that it’s ending when it’s on top. In fact, the first episode of the second part of the series’ final season drew up nearly 6 million viewers, bigger than any episode so far. “I am sad that the show is over but I’ve not had a bad night’s sleep worrying that we were ending at the wrong time,” he told The Guardian. He knew the end had to come soon after Walter triumphed over Gustavo at the end of Season Four. “As much as anything it was realizing that Walter White had reached a high point and how long can anyone stay at the top?”
Now that the series itself is reach a high point, it’s fitting that this modern-day mythological tale comes to an end, to drag it on any further trying to come up with more extreme things to happen to Walter White would probably lessen it’s quality and impact
A few facts about Vince:
– The title of series, Breaking Bad, came from a phrase Vince heard growing up on the outskirts of Richmond, Virginia. “Well, ‘breaking bad’ is definitely an old Southern expression that I thought was more widely known than it is, apparently,” he says. “I always thought everybody know what “breaking bad” meant, because I grew up hearing it all the time.”
– He wrote Home Fries, a 1998 romantic comedy starring Drew Barrymore while he was NYU film school.
– He wrote for The X-Files for seven years, which is credits as being the training ground for him to do what he does on Breaking Bad.
– After Breaking Bad ends, he wants to direct a movie.