Breaking Bad 101: The Complete Critical Companion

A television drama with a ludicrous premise (dying chemistry teacher cooks and sells methamphetamine to build a family nest egg), Breaking Bad was rejected by major networks and shuffled off to cable. From humble beginnings, it became a critical darling and a top-rated, multi-Emmy-winning sensation. In Breaking Bad 101, longtime critic Alan Sepinwall (The Revolution Was Televised) dissects a show so successful at captivating an audience that he watched "the greatest hour of dramatic television ever made" ("Ozymandias"; season five, episode 14) from a hospital bed after nearly dying from a burst appendix.

The book includes updated show recaps supplemented with insightful details about all 62 episodes, with sidebars of insider facts and back stories, commentary from the actors and creators, as well as brilliant black-and-white comic-style artwork that exemplifies the show's dark humor. Breaking Bad 101 is incredibly fun, but shines when Sepinwall explores the elements that elevated an impractical pitch to awe-inspiring success.

From its focus on the "in-between moments" to its use of cinematography to show rather than tell, Breaking Bad is a model of efficacious storytelling. Many plots would crumble from the fragile framework upon which creator Vince Gilligan and his crew built their masterpiece, but this one grew to epic proportions on the strength of its foundation--the writing (and some admittedly happy accidents). Sepinwall reveals how the script held millions of viewers in suspense while a year of real-time story was spread over several glacially paced seasons of television in a masterful display of craftsmanship. --Lauren O'Brien of Malcolm Avenue Review

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