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Breaking Bad is a television drama series about a high school teacher who begins to cook and sell methamphetamine to secure his family’s finances after being diagnosed with lung cancer. The series, which began in January of 2008, was produced and created by Vince Gilligan and set in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The pilot episode of Breaking Bad premiered on the cable channel AMC on January 20th, 2008, introducing the character Walter White (played by Bryan Cranston) as a high school chemistry teacher that has been diagnosed with lung cancer. After coming to the realization that his family would not be financially secure after his death, he partners up with his former student Jesse Pinkman (played by Aaron Paul) to manufacture and sell methamphetamine. The second season premiered on March 8th, 2009, the third season premiered on March 21st, 2010, the fourth season premiered on July 17th, 2011 and the first half of the fifth and final season premiered on July 15th, 2012. The second season is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2013.
The television series has received overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics. On the review aggregation website Metacritic, season one received a score of 74, season two received a score of 85, season three received a score of 89, season four received a score of 96 and season five received a score of 98. Actor Bryan Cranston won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series three years in a row. As of July 2012, the show was received a total of 26 awards. On July 12th, 2011, the sports and pop culture blog Granland published an article by writer Chuck Klosterman titled “Bad Decisions: Why Breaking Bad beats Mad Men, The Sopranos and The Wire”, which argued that Breaking Bad was the best television drama of all time.
The Series Finale
On September 29th, 2013, the series came to an end with the broadcast of the finale episode “Felina.” Being one of the most highly anticipated and talked-about TV shows of the year, social media mentions of Breaking Bad during and after the finale episode jumped through the roof in comparison to the episodes leading up to the finale (shown below).
In the hours following the broadcast, Twitter and Reddit became awash with people’s reactions and discussions about the episode. Although the endgame of Breaking Bad was largely met by positive responses, many of them praising how it handled the tying of the loose ends, some fans immediately began fixating on the fate of Saul Goodman’s bodyguard Huelle Babineaux, who was last seen getting coaxed into staying at a DEA safehouse in the thirteenth episode “To’hajiilee.”
LMAOOO Huell is still there. pic.twitter.com/2xqCze7jre— PJ (@pjhoody) September 30, 2013
On April 27th, 2009, the Breaking Bad Wiki was created, which featured detailed pages on episodes and characters within the series. On September 28th, the “Fuck Yeah Breaking Bad” Tumblr blog was launched, which highlighted fan art, promotional photographs and image macros related to the series. On February 24th, 2012, the online art project Breaking GIFs was unveiled, which showcased animated GIFs inspired by the television series (shown below, left). On June 21st, 2012 the Interet culture blog Laughing Squid published a post titled “Bricking Bad, A Breaking Bad LEGO Meth Lab”, which featured photographs of LEGO’s built to resemble the methamphetamine manufacturing lab shown in the series (shown below, right).
IRL Walter White
On August 16th, 2012, the Sheriff’s Office in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, revealed that a man named Walter White had been placed at the top of the county’s most wanted list for manufacturing methamphetamine. An article on the Tuscaloosa News website revealed that the 55-year-old man was on probation for producing methamphetamine in 2008.
The same day, Gawker staff writer Neetzan Zimmerman wrote an article titled “Cops in Alabama on the Lookout for Meth Maker Named Walter White”, which noted how the man’s name was identical to the protagonist of the AMC show Breaking Bad. On August 17th, the viral content site BuzzFeed published a post titled “A Man Named ‘Walter White’ is Wanted in Alabama For Manufacturing Meth”, including a mugshot of White morphed into a screen capture of the Breaking Bad protagonist (shown below). On August 19th, the New York Daily News published an article reporting that White had been found at a treatment facility from a court order in a different jurisdiction.
Breaking Bad Comics
Breaking Bad Comics are a series of crudely drawn MS Paint comics that inspired the creation of several single topic blogs on Tumblr. The comics often feature the character Jesse Pinkman using the word “bitch” at the end of each sentence.
Yeah Science, Bitch!
“Yeah science, bitch!” is an expression associated with the character Jesse Pinkman, originally from Season 1 Episode 7, which aired on March 9th, 2008. In the episode, Walter White informs Pinkman that he discovered an alternative method to cooking methamphetamine that does not require pseudo-ephedrine as an ingredient, to which Pinkman replies “Yeah Mr. White! Yeah science!”. On the web, the phrase is often used to express enthusiasm and approval for scientific discovery. On July 28th, 2012, Redditor Pass-A-Fist submitted an image macro featuring a screen capture of Pinkman with the caption “Yeah / Science bitch” (shown below) to the /r/AdviceAnimals subreddit. Within seven months, the post received over 12,700 up votes and 230 comments.
Walt’s Confession / Hank and Marie Watch
Walt’s Confession, or Hank and Marie Watch refers to scene from Season 5 Episode 11, in which the characters Hank and Marie Schrader (Walt’s DEA agent brother-in-law and his wife) watch a video “confession”, in which Walt claims that Hank is the mastermind behind his meth empire. Both Hank and Marie become visibly distraught at this blackmail, and their reactions have been used as a video exploitable. One of the first examples was “Hank & Marie Watch the Video Music Awards” (below), uploaded on August 26th, 2013 (the day after both the VMAs and the airing of the episode).