Breaking Bad: The Beginner’s Guide

A guide to everyone’s favourite drug lord

I don’t know if you’ve heard of this little-known drama? A couple of people (okay, almost everyone I’ve spoken to in the last few years) mentioned it, so I thought I’d give it a try: it’s only an hour out of my life, after all. You know, it was actually not too bad. It kept my attention.

As far as I understand it, here’s the basic breakdown: There’s this 50 year old chemistry genius-turned-under-appreciated-high-school teacher. He is diagnosed with cancer. He solves his problems through producing methamphetamines. Complications ensue (don’t do drugs, kids). Maybe you too have been pressured by friends to watch it. Maybe you’ve seen all the awards it has won – 50 in total, 10 Primetime Emmys and ‘Best Drama Series’ a few days ago. Maybe you’re wondering why underwear worn on the show is being auctioned.

Regardless of your reasons for watching the show, here are a few tips and motivators to get you going before you watch:

1. Never use a bathtub= You’ll learn a lot about chemistry –it’s worth trying to take some notes whilst watching, just in case you too need to make dangerous/explosive/illegal substances. Procrastination guilt is immediately eased if you are technically furthering your educational career. Preferably buddy-up with a fourth or fifth year chemist to further your cause. Or actually contact your old high school chemistry teacher (you never know, they could have happened across the television series too).

2. Just a dad tryin’ to do right= It’s got the Dad from Malcolm in the Middle in it. Although he’s a slightly mental, cancer-stricken meth-maker, there is still something reminiscent of the potential for chaotic, slap-stick hilarity in amongst the violence and gore and stuff. He keeps it light.

3. No more half measures= It keeps you on your toes by never actually finishing a scene. The direction is clever in allowing you to imagine the worst that could happen, and staying away from the modal American-drama route of overtly-explicit action. Thus, the show keeps its pace and feels more realistic, riding off your assumptions, forcing you to interact with the drama.

4. Chili powder. Did I not already tell you how moronic that was?= Every prize-winning chemist-turned-illegal-drug-manufacturer needs a partner. This comes in the form of Jesse, a former student who happens to look like Justin Timberlake, except edgy from meth-use. It’s a perfect pairing, it’s almost a father-son match, it’s in no way a real friendship. This sums it up:

5. Glossary of terms (add to as series progresses, unless you already know the entire drug cartel lingo) =

‘Cook’– The act of manufacturing Methamphetamines

‘Breaking Bad’– Turn to the wrong side of the path, to a life of immorality.

‘Heisenberg’ – The pseudonym of the main character when in the drug world, in homage to Werner Heisenberg, the physicist and father of the uncertainty principle.