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What Only Die-Hard Fans Know About Breaking Bad


Just like at the counter of Los Pollos Hermanos, there's a whole lot going on behind the scenes of Breaking Bad From shocking character choices to the show's lasting legacy, here's the stuff that only true fans know about the award-winning show

Once primarily a repository for old movies, AMC launched Mad Men in 2007 and Breaking Bad in 2008, positioning itself as a major "peak TV" player alongside the likes of TNT, HBO, and FX Oddly enough, all those networks had the chance to take on Breaking Bad and turned it down As creator Vince Gilligan told the Television Academy Foundation about his TNT experience: "Great meeting at TNT Excellent meeting The two executives who I pitched it to were on the edge of their seat, they were loving it

" However, at the end of his breathless description of the first episode, the executives final response wasn't nearly as positive as Gilligan had hoped: "And then they look at each other, when I finished, I get 'The End,' and they look to each other and they say, 'Oh, God, I wish we could buy this'" Evidently, they were scared off by the fact that Walt cooks meth, so they asked Gilligan if he could make him a counterfeiter instead Gilligan rightly thought that making Walt a counterfeiter wouldn't be the right formula, so he moved on to other networks While Gilligan says the HBO executive he met with wasn't interested, FX actually bought the series, only to eventually reverse course FX President John Landgraf eventually explained why they passed on the show while talking to KCRW's The Business: "So we had three dramas with male antiheroes

So, the question was, are we defining FX as the male antihero network, and is that a big enough tent?" Ultimately, FX decided to branch out and greenlit the Courtney Cox drama Dirt, instead of going with Breaking Bad After all these rejections, things were looking bad for the show As a last resort, his agent sent it to AMC, which was looking to expand its original programming slate And the rest, as they say, is history In addition to TNT, HBO, and FX, Vince Gilligan also pitched Breaking Bad to Showtime in 2005

Gilligan later recalled to Newsweek being about five minutes into his presentation when the network president quipped: "'This sounds a lot like Weeds'" Gilligan hadn't heard of Weeds, so he asked what that was, and the executive explained that it was a brand new Showtime series about a mild-mannered suburban mom who, facing a financial emergency, starts selling drugs That's a premise very similar to Breaking Bad's story about a mild-mannered suburban dad who, facing a financial emergency, starts cooking meth Two representatives from Sony Television were there with him, and he asked if they knew about Weeds They had, but they told Gilligan that Weeds and Breaking Bad were completely different

Gilligan briefly considered abandoning Breaking Bad altogether, but ultimately, he trusted the Sony reps And it's a good thing that he wasn't familiar with Weeds As Gilligan told Newsweek: "If I had known of Weeds weeks or even days prior to that meeting, it's likely I wouldn't have had the will to go on" The final episode of Breaking Bad aired in 2013, wrapping up five seasons in a way that gave closure to its main characters As you probably know, the show ends with Walter White dying among his laboratory equipment to the strains of Badfinger's "Baby Blue," and with Jesse Pinkman escaping his life as an enslaved meth cook for Nazis

That episode was titled "Felina," which just so happens to be the name of the idealized young woman in the 1959 Marty Robbins song "El Paso" That particular song, a country music classic that hit number one on Billboard, actually makes an appearance in the episode The tune concerns an outlaw on the run who returns to the town where he committed a grievous crime Hey, you know who else makes a return to the place where he committed some serious crimes? Walter White of Breaking Bad Plus, in two strokes of wordplay genius, "Felina" is an anagram for "finale," and it can be broken down into three chemical symbols: Fe, Li, and Na

Those represent iron, lithium, and sodium…which just so happen to be vital ingredients in blood, meth, and tears In other words, "Felina" is what Breaking Bad was all about all along While "dramedies" have been enjoying their moment for a while, Breaking Bad is not that kind of genre-buster It was an extremely serious show There's not much humor to mine in the story of a man who descends into darkness when he becomes a drug lord in order to pay for cancer treatments and prevent financial ruin for the family he'll leave behind

The closest thing the show had to comic relief was Dean Norris's work as obnoxious, cocky DEA agent Hank Schrader And that all stems from Norris's confusion over how to play the role at his Breaking Bad audition As he said on Conan, he doesn't necessarily think it's a full drama: "You thought it was a comedy" "I did It's not?" "Well, it's interesting because…" "It is kinda!" "I can understand why you…" "It's a black comedy!" A lot of Breaking Bad characters die in horrible ways

Walter White dies, Hank Schrader dies, Gus Fring dies, and Jane Margolis dies, to name a few But plenty of other characters survived the series while coming very close to dying In fact, creator Vince Gilligan nearly killed off Jesse Pinkman in the first season, and he proposed offing Skyler White, played by Anna Gunn, near the end of the series He came up with the idea that Skyler would go with her husband and the Disappearer on their hideout trip to New Hampshire after all hope is lost But while hiding out, Skyler offs herself rather than continue to be with her monstrous husband

Ultimately, the idea was dropped because the writers couldn't figure out a way to bring Walt Jr along, if the entire family was going to go into hiding As masterfully portrayed by Giancarlo Esposito, Gus Fring is among the most fascinating villains in TV history He runs his meth smuggling business with cruelty, while never losing his dignity and poise He also takes pains to never let his drug empire interfere with his successful front, the fast food franchise Los Pollos Hermanos

Gus' rise and fall is crucial to the series' arc and Walter White's transformation, but he surprisingly wasn't originally part of Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan's plan By early season two, frightening drug kingpin Tuco Salamanca served as the series' "big bad," a factor Gilligan wanted to explore for a while However, the actor who played him, Raymond Cruz, had to bow out due to prior commitments Gilligan told Digital Spy: "So [Raymond Cruz] became unavailable to us, and we thought, 'Man, we're never gonna have a character as good and interesting as he was,' but we then thought to ourselves, 'Why don't we go in the completely opposite direction?'" And that's how they decided to create a villain who was a "buttoned-down, cold-blooded, soft-spoken businessman" And thus, you get Gus

Setting and filming Breaking Bad around Albuquerque, New Mexico, gave the show a vast and beautiful desert landscape where all sorts of criminal activities could go on unnoticed But it also presented an "Everytown USA" dynamic to contrast with the dark journey of Walter White It wouldn't have been the same show were it set somewhere else … and it almost was In the 1990s, Riverside, California, earned a reputation as one of the United States' most active meth turfs, and that's where Vince Gilligan initially set his series Studio Sony Television suggested to Gilligan that he change Riverside to Albuquerque because the show would be cheaper to shoot there, owing to tax breaks for TV productions

The rest, as they say, is television history Breaking Bad fans love to visit the real-life locations depicted on the show One of the most sought-after locales is the Whites' humble home, although the people who live in and near the house are over it The residents of the White house got so tired of gawkers, and fans who stole rocks and other garden items as souvenirs, that they ordered construction of a six-foot-tall iron fence The homeowner's daughter told Albuquerque's KOB that the fans: "They feel the need to tell us to close our garage, get out of the picture, you know, tell us what to do on our own property

" Building a fence also put an end to another intrusive fan activity, which involved re-enacting a moment from a third season episode when an angry Walter White throws a pizza on the roof In 2015, Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan implored fans to stop: "Let me tell ya, there is nothing original or funny or cool about throwing a pizza on this lady's roof" An "Easter egg" is hidden throughout the second season of Breaking Bad Four non-consecutive episodes open with ominous, black-and-white "teaser" clips, seemingly unconnected to the show But string those four segments together, and they form a cohesive whole, depicting the aftermath of a horrific plane crash

And when the titles of the episodes featuring those clips are similarly placed together, in order, they form a sentence: "Seven-Thirty-Seven," "Down," "Over," "Albuquerque" Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan has said that he and his writers "worked very hard" to come up with episode titles with "proper dual meanings" On the surface, "Seven-Thirty Seven" refers to the $737,000 Walter wants to leave behind for his family "Down" is about Jesse being "down and out" "Over" concerns Walter thinking his drug-making days are finished

And "ABQ" is an abbreviation for the show's central location of Albuquerque Season two wraps up with a plane crashing practically in Walter's backyard, a 737 down over Albuquerque Gilligan told NJcom: "It seemed like a big showmanship moment, and to visualize, in one fell swoop, all the terrible grief that Walt has wrought upon his loved ones, and the community at large" The central through-line of Breaking Bad is pretty easy to see

Walter White, once a regular family man with a regular job as a high school teacher, slowly turns wicked as he becomes more embroiled in the manufacture and distribution of methamphetamine That's all very literary, but television is a visual medium, and Breaking Bad expresses its arcs visually In an article for TDYLF, graphic designer John LaRue points out that the characters' trajectories can be tracked by the colors of clothes they wear over the course of the show Marie Schrader loves purple and wears it a lot, but keep an eye out for the darker colors she sports during a kleptomania relapse Walt Jr

apparently wears colors that indicate support for other characters Skyler White starts out favoring blue, but her palette turns dark when she gets wise to her husband's other life As for Walter White, he wears drab khaki after bad cancer news or a personal setback However, when he gets more involved with Gus Fring, more blue shows up in his wardrobe, a nod to his signature blue meth Of all the horrible things Walter White does in Breaking Bad, the very worst may be letting Jane die

Portrayed by Krysten Ritter, Jane is Jesse Pinkman's recovering addict girlfriend, whom he pulls back into the world of drugs She dies after choking on vomit after an overdose while Walter watches her die without doing anything to stop it It's a dark moment, and it was almost even darker As part of the Tribeca Talks series, Cranston explained that in earlier drafts of the script, Walt was even more involved in her death He said: "She starts to cough and she's on her side, and Walt looks at her, and pushes her shoulder so she's on her back, essentially killing her

" AMC and producer Sony Television objected to that bit, not because it was too awful, but because it would mean Walt would "break bad" too soon That still represented an acting challenge for Cranston When Ritter shot the vomiting scene, Cranston said that "[Ritter's face] lost all characteristics, and out of that came the face of my real daughter choking to death" The actor added that even years later, he still gets a little choked up about it Breaking Bad's fifth and final season premiere hit AMC on August 11, 2013, ending with the on-screen message, "Dedicated to our friend Kevin Cordasco

" That's the name of a Breaking Bad mega-fan who died earlier in the year after a long fight against cancer Kevin Cordasco Sr told The Hollywood Reporter: "He and his friends watched it obsessively and ate pizza in his bedroom There was something about the Walter White character…the way he took control of his illness, and his life, that really resonated with Kevin" As it turns out, Cordasco's godmother set up a cast visit, getting Bryan Cranston to come meet his biggest fan

Gilligan apparently asked Cordasco if there was anything he'd like the show to explore Cordasco responded that he wanted to know more about Gretchen and Elliot, the couple who, with Walter White, formed Gray Matter years before the show started Thanks to Cordasco, Gretchen and Elliot reappear in season five Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Looper videos about your favorite TV shows are coming soon Subscribe to our YouTube channel and hit the bell so you don't miss a single one

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