I hate "Breaking Bad."
I know the 5.9 million people who watched it on Sunday night will vehemently disagree with me, but I hate Walter White and his mean bald head. I hate Jesse Pinkman (sorry ladies!), the nervy sidekick who cooks meth with Walt. I hate where it's set — wherever that is. Somewhere hot and ugly.
I hate the darkness of the writing. (And I can do dark. I loved "The Wire," "The Sopranos" and didn’t flinch in "Game of Thrones" during the Red Wedding episode.) But when Walt and Jesse melt that body in the bathtub in Season 1, I wanted to throw up. And then the acid burns through the floor and they're scooping up a liquid drug dealer … well, that was just disgusting and now it’s in my head forever. After plodding through the rest of Season 1, I was officially done.
It wasn't a particularly intellectual reaction, I know. It's purely visceral. A gut response to a TV phenomenon that seems to have the entire country in its thrall. It's like being a vegetarian and being served a big juicy steak. I appreciate that a whole lot of people love steak. The vegetarian? Not so much.
I get writer/creator Vince Gilligan’s whole thing about turning the protagonist into an antagonist and how clever that is, but that doesn't stop me from hating it. And it's that strong gut reaction that keeps me at arm’s length from all those finely wrought characters, great writing and storytelling.
I had a similar experience years ago about Lucian Freud's paintings. Freud is to the art world what Gilligan is to television. They're both brilliant, dark, and unafraid of revealing an ugliness that I find unbearable. I remember arguing with a friend who was the art critic for the newspaper we both worked on. He loved Freud while I hated the painter's cruel eye. My friend, btw, went on to work at the Boston Globe where he won a Pulitzer for his art criticism. But that still didn't make him right.
And now I have another thing to hate about "Breaking Bad." EVERYONE is talking about it. I hate that all my cool, smart friends like it and talk about it and want me to watch it and like it and talk about it. I can’t and I won't. Hey guys, it’s time to give up on me. And shut up about how great it is.
Thank god it’s the final season.