Goodbye, Breaking Bad

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Breaking Bad ended last night. An estimated 8 million people tuned in to watch the show end, which I bet undercounts all the folks downloading it two hours later from a torrent, or who watched it from a crowded bar or a friend's couch.

Today, on our last post-Breaking Bad Monday, I'm realizing what I'll miss most about the show isn't the show itself, but the way it reigned in and focused our cultural attention. Breaking Bad cross-pollinated every cultural channel I pay attention to.

There was the corps of writers who churned out essay-length recaps around 2AM every Monday morning: pages on pages of observation and theory and argument -- Matt Zoller-Seitz, Starlee Kine, Linda Holmes, Donna Bowman, James Poniewozik, Alyssa Rosenberg, and on and on. But also, there was Ross Douthat, using the show as a springboard for his loftier conservative ideas about ethics. Or Ann Coulter, using the finale to make a questionably relevant tweet about gun rights.

My comedy podcasts were visited by Bob Odenkirk, in character as Saul Goodman. My Monday nights were spent listening to the show's own podcast, where the cast and crew spent hours talking about the thing they'd made and what they thought it might mean. 

There'll be more good TV shows. We have a very productive culture industry, if you haven't noticed. But I'll miss a show so good that it you couldn't dismiss it. Even Slate, your beloved internet home for the-sky-is-red contrarianism, premised it's anti-Breaking Bad articles by saying, yes, the show was great, but sometimes it actually got some stuff wrong. 

Anyway, we get a few more days. We get to argue whether the finale was satisfying or too tidy. We get to look at some Elliot and Gretchen laser pointer GIFs. And then we can figure out where and when we'll all meet again. I heard Masters of Sex is supposed to be pretty good.