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The launch of "Breaking Bad" in January 2008 on the AMC network began one of the best-reviewed TV shows in the history of the U.S. networks. Created and written by Vince Gilligan, "Breaking Bad" follows the life of a high school chemistry teacher, Walter White in Albuquerque, New Mexico. White and his former high school student, Jesse Pinkman join forces to create and sell crystal meth to the residents of New Mexico after Walt is given a life-changing medical diagnosis.
"Breaking Bad" begins with Walter White living his regular life in New Mexico where he struggles to make ends meet on the meager salary of a high school teacher for his pregnant wife and teenaged son. Walter's life is taking its usual path of school through the day followed by his part-time job at a local car wash where he is humiliated by two students whose car he has to clean. After collapsing at the car wash, Walter is rushed to the hospital and diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, which prompts a reevaluation of the life he has always led.
The teacher decides to keep his diagnosis a secret from his family and friends but he begins to look for ways of making money, whether legal or illegal. Walter is invited on a ride along with his brother-in-law, a Drug Enforcement Agency officer, and spots a former student, Jesse escaping from the scene of a raid on a methamphetamine lab. Taking his future into his own hands, Walter tracks down Jesse and enlists his help in developing their own methamphetamine lab which Walter will fund with his life savings. Jesse is dispatched to purchase an RV to make the lab mobile while Walter returns to the high school to steal the supplies needed for the plan.
Using his skills as a chemistry teacher, Walter White, and Jesse Pinkman develops what Jesse describes as one of the purest forms of methamphetamine he has ever seen. Walter's previous life now begins to blur with his new role as the developer of a form of crystal meth the addicts of New Mexico are desperate to get their hands on.
Throughout the five seasons of "Breaking Bad", which cover a time period in the show from 2008 to 2010, Walter White is hit with a series of moral dilemmas as he takes a journey from high school teacher to dry kingpin. Walter's DEA agent brother-in-law and the fact he has been given around two years to live only adds to the drama as Walter fights to protect his family from the dangers of his new life.
Award-winning writer, producer, and director Vince Gilligan acts as the showrunner for "Breaking Bad" after developing the show with the AMC network. Gilligan is an American writer who first found success when he won a role as a writer on the FOX-produced, "The X-Files." Gilligan has worked on a number of U.S. TV shows with Fox and AMC, including the development of "The Lone Gunman" spinoff from "The X-Files."
Actor Bryan Cranston was the first choice for the role of Walter White for the series creator, Vince Gilligan but not executives at AMC. Prior to "Breaking Bad", Cranston's best-known role was that of Hal, the loveable but eccentric father in the sitcom, "Malcolm in the Middle." Cranston had largely been working in TV and on stage before finding global fame as Walter White, which led to him moving into films as both a dramatic and comedic actor. For his role as Walter White in "Breaking Bad", Bryan Cranston won numerous awards, including four Primetime Emmy's and one Golden Globa.
Taking the role of Jesse Pinkman in "Breaking Bad" proved to be the breakout performance for Aaron Paul who had been working steadily in small roles for both TV and movies. After appearing in films such as "Mission Impossible III", Aaron Paul won what was supposed be a small role in "Breaking Bad" but impressed showrunner, Vince Gilligan, so much that his role was expanded. Since his appearances in "Breaking Bad", Paul has gone on to become a leading man in a series of Holywood movies.
The role of Walter White's wife, Skylar was seen as integral to the success of the show with the casting of Anna Gunn an important one in the view of Vince Gilligan. Like much of the rest of the cast, Gunn had worked in various smaller roles across TV, such as "The Practice" and "Seinfeld." Anna Gunn has spent much of her post-"Breaking Bad" career working on various films such as "Sully" and the lead in the Fox thriller "Gracepoint."
"Breaking Bad" was undoubtedly a production completed under the control of Vince Gilligan as the showrunner wrote, directed, and produced various episodes, including the pilot. Gilligan had intended the show to be set in Southern California but financial concerns led to a move to New Mexico which Gilligan originally wanted to hide from viewers. Upon arriving in New Mexico, Gilligan changed his plans to allow the state to take center stage in the show. Developed and released by AMC, "Breaking Bad" has been broadcast around the world including through the Sky satellite provider in the U.K.
One of the best-reviewed TV shows in history, "Breaking Bad" was one of the few series developed for TV which has seen a steady upturn in its reviews as it moved through the seasons. The first season is given a rating of 74 out of 100 by Metacritic with a steady rise through the seasons until the final season scores a 99. As with the critical response to "Breaking Bad", the show also received a consistent upturn in viewers over the course of its seasons with seasons five receiving an average viewership of over four million.
Since the final season of "Breaking Bad" in 2013, the role of Walter White has become linked to actor Bryan Cranston. However, AMC executives were unsure of Vince Gilligan's choice of the lead actor and attempted to persuade Matthew Broderick and John Cusack to take the role of Walter White. The changing nature of "Breaking Bad" includes the position of actor Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman who was originally written out of the show at the end of the pilot episode. Aaron Paul's performance was so impressive, creator Gilligan was forced to change the script and expand the role of Jesse. "Breaking Bad" has spawned a spinoff show, "Better Call Saul" acting as a prequel to the show revolving around the lawyer, Saul Goodman.