It’s been a whole decade since Breaking Bad premiered. And we have to admit we’ve never viewed chemistry teachers, Winnebagos, the state of New Mexico or car washes quite the same.
If you’ve somehow missed the revered series and are wondering what it’s all about, Breaking Bad is a quirky dark comedy drama that sees a chemistry teacher on the brink of giving in to terminal cancer risk it all to make his family a small fortune as a crystal meth producer.
A truly phenomenal series, Breaking Bad has won awards from Golden Globes to Primetime Emmys to Screen Actors Guild Awards. It has gone on to be one of the most successful television dramas of all time – and remains the most binged series on Netflix.
It also spawned its very own spinoff, Better Call Saul - a fellow AMC creation that follows the mysterious early years of Breaking Bad’s dodgy but hilarious lawyer Saul Goodman.
But the mastermind behind both of these hit shows, Vince Gilligan, remains as humble as ever.
“This sounds like false modesty but I am still catching up to the show’s success. - I had it in my mind’s eye that the show would fail from the get go," Vince told us while in London to view Breaking Bad’s lead actor Bryan Cranston make his West End debut in the play Network.
He continued: "On paper, the show just seemed too dark. It’s a about a guy dying of cancer and he’s cooking crystal meth! On paper you think why would this thing work?"
Read on for the highlights of our conversation:
He wants you to leave Skyler alone!
Skyler White, Walter’s long-suffering wife, is undeniably the most fan-hated character of the Breaking Bad series. But Vince has never got his head around the widespread hatred for her:
“I don’t know to this day [why people don't like her]. I’ve given it a lot of thought. I know it troubles the actress who plays the role, Anna Gunn. She is a kind and good person, and smart as a whip. This is why I could never be an actor!
"Skyler compared to Walter is the good guy! She is trying to do the right thing. He gives her all this lip service to her: ‘I’m trying to protect my family! All that matters is my family!’. She says at one point: ‘Someone has to protect this family from the man who says he protects his family!’
"And she’s right. It’s a very complicated stew of things that led to her being so disliked but I don’t quite understand it completely. She is the most underappreciated character on the show.”
It’s not about the drugs, it’s about the consequences
Vince says what he truly obsessed about in the writing room was not the drug-making and drug-dealing world - but instead the consequences for each and every one of his characters' actions.
“We put pretty much all of our characters through the ringer. The show was so much about consequences, the natural consequences to actions and that was a lot of what excited us in the writers' room.
"What happens if you decide to cook meth? What becomes of it? In the short run you make some money but it's not so great in the long run.
"We weren’t trying to be moralistic. Sometimes the best actions led to the worst consequences, and vice versa.”
He regrets the pizza scene
Who can forget the infamous Breaking Bad throwing-pizza-onto-the roof scene, which launched a thousand memes and GIFs?
“I don’t regret doing that scene as part of the story - but I do regret that it has led people to do it in real life," said Vince.
"That makes me very sad. There is nothing original about doing that - you are not going to be the first person doing it. If you want a photo of a pizza on the roof, Photoshop it in! Anyone can figure out how to do that – even I could.”
Jesse’s teeth were too white
Re-watching Breaking Bad marathons on AMC has led Vince to pick up on a few minor details that could have been improved - including Jesse Pinkman’s impeccably straight and white teeth.
“His teeth were so perfect and this character got the living hill beat out of him every week on the show and then he of course smoked a lot of meth which is rough on your teeth. If I had stopped to think about it, I would have changed it.”
The randomness of Mr Magorium’s Magic Emporium
When Walter is cooped up in a cable television-free New Hampshire log cabin, he’s stuck with not one but two copies of the 2007 Mr Magorium’s Magic Emporium DVDs for company.
“We were pitching in the writers' room, the details of that moment and somebody said: 'I guess he would have a DVD player in his room because the TV wouldn’t work out there in the mountains. We will give him some DVDs. What shall we give him?'
"Someone said Mr Emporiums - and we all just laughed! And then I thought we should give him two copies.
"After the show aired, the writer and director of that movie publicly said: 'I’m just a big fan of Breaking Bad.’ He was so sweet about it - I instantly thought ‘oh God, this must have come across like some kind of kick in the pants.’
"I feel bad about that because he’s a talented gentleman who was very pleasant about the whole thing. It was really just about the hilariousness of the title, not the movie itself."
Jesse had a lucky escape
Jesse Pinkman, Walter’s troubled but hilarious right-hand man, had a lucky escape as Vince had toyed with killing him off. Where would he be now? Vince hopes in a good place.
“I’d like to think that he got away! I don’t really know in terms of what he should be doing as a career but I hope he would get away, meet somebody nice, not be a criminal anymore or face those kinds of horrors. I always liked that character I had a soft spot for him.”
Vince may not be finished with certain minor characters
As any fan knows, many of Breaking Bad’s minor characters backstories are exposed in its spinoff Better Call Saul. Who could we be seeing again in upcoming episodes? Probably not the hapless ill-fated love interest of Skyler, Ted Beneke, who Vince noted would probably ‘be in prison for tax evasion’.
But might we get to revisit other fan favourites such as Skinny Pete and Badger?
“We see them a little bit in the final episode with their laser pointing. It would be fun to see them again. With Better Call Saul they could come back.
"That’s the fun thing with our spin-off series - there is the opportunity to see what happened to them. Never say never!”
You may not have seen the last of Jesse Pinkman
Could Jesse return in Better Call Saul? While Vince was certainly coy about it, he didn’t rule it out completely:
“You never know if that character could be revisited in the future. Anything is possible. We live in a world with great possibilities.”
He’s more than happy with five seasons
Breaking Bad went off on a ratings high - but it's unusual for such a successful show to have only spanned five seasons. This was a deliberate choice says Vince, who wanted fans to be left desperate for more as opposed to having already moved on to the next big show:
“I pushed harder for anyone to end when it did. Sony would have loved 200 episodes! AMC was ready for it to be over before we were ready for it to be over.
"From working on The X Files many years before, I loved it - I was such a fan of the show and a writer on it for seven years - but one day I woke up and realised although I still loved the show, everyone else was already watching something else. I learned at that point that you want the folks to be left wanting more."
How to watch Breaking Bad on AMC with BT TV
To mark the 10th Anniversary of Breaking Bad, AMC will be hosting reruns of Breaking Bad every Wednesday from 9pm.
AMC is the home of Breaking Bad, Fear the Walking Dead, Snatch and upcoming Ridley Scott epic The Terror.
Watch AMC on BT TV channel 332/381 HD. BT Sport pack customers can watch on Sky Guide channel 192.
AMC is one of 60 premium channels available on BT TV along with other channels such as E!, Comedy Central, National Geographic and many more.