“I am not in danger; I am the danger.”
Walter White was introduced to the world on January 20, 2008 as a mild-mannered high school chemistry teacher in Albuquerque, New Mexico, living a quiet life with his wife and son. Over the next five seasons, the character would dramatically transform from a quiet middle-aged, working-class dad into a ruthless drug kingpin.
White is the protagonist of Breaking Bad, the popular cable drama created by writer Vince Gilligan. Gilligan borrowed the show's title from an old southern expression (he's from Farmville, VA), which means "to raise hell." Those words can be interpreted quite literally in the world of Walter White.
Season One begins with White (portrayed by Emmy-winner Bryan Cranston) getting the news that he has terminal cancer. He takes desperate measures to provide for his pregnant wife and cerebral-palsey stricken son. Using his knowledge of chemistry, and with the help of former flunkee student Jesse Pinkman (played by Aaron Paul), the pair cook up the purest form of crystal meth anyone has ever seen. A slew of challenges quickly confront the fumbling novices, and White must make life-altering decisions as he becomes more and more entrenched in the drug underworld.
The main cast includes Walt’s steadfast wife Skyler White (played by Anna Gunn) who remains unaware of her husband’s meth hobby for several seasons; their son, Walter Jr., who battles cerebral palsy (played by RJ Mitte); Skyler’s kleptomaniac sister Marie Schrader (played by Betsy Brandt); and Marie’s DEA-husband Hank (played by Dean Norris). Other series regulars include Hank’s drug-enforcement partner Steven Gomez (Steven Michael Quezada), an ambulance-chasing lawyer Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk), drug lord–disguised-as-fast-food-store-manager Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito), and Gus’ right-hand man Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks).
In his 2011 interview with the Archive of American Television, series creator Vince Gilligan explains that Breaking Bad follows the path of a protagonist who slowly becomes the bad guy. Walter White “is a man who still thinks of himself as a good provider and a good man when, you know, he’s anything but. And that was the point. That’s the experiment of Breaking Bad.”
Gilligan describes his “Eureka moment” of inspiration for the series, which occurred while discussing with a friend the idea of writing a story about a guy, like himself, who had never broken a law, and suddenly finds himself as an outlaw drug dealer. He made several pitches, but everyone turned him down, until Sony decided to take a chance.
To date (in August 2013) the show has won seven Primetime Emmy Awards, including three for Best Actor for Bryan Cranston (2008-2010), and two for Best Supporting Actor for Aaron Paul (2010, 2012). The series has also acquired four nominations for Outstanding Drama Series, won the Emmy for Outstanding Single-camera picture editing for a Drama Series in 2008 and 2009, and was nominated for Outstanding Writing, Directing, Cinematography, Sound Editing, Visual Effects, and Sound Mixing for a Drama Series, and for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for Anna Gunn.
In 2013, the show was named #13 on a list of the 101 Best-Written TV series of All Time by the Writers Guild of America.
Breaking Bad is set and produced in Albuquerque, New Mexico by Sony Television and airs on AMC. The final season will premiere on August 11, 2013.
Creator: Vince Gilligan
Producers: Vince Gilligan, Mark Johnson, Melissa Bernstein, Sam Catlin Writers: Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould, George Mastras, Sam Catlin, Moira Walley-Beckett, Thomas Schnauz, Gennifer Hutchinkson, John Shiban, J. Roberts
Programming History: 62 episodes, 5 seasons,
AMC Sunday nights from January 20, 2008 - September 29, 2013
- by Jenni Matz