Breaking Bad Season 5B: Towering Over All

Breaking Bad Season 5 Episode 16 Felina (2)

A few weeks ago, Canelo Alvarez fought Floyd Mayweather in a championship boxing match in Las Vegas. Despite being undefeated, Mayweather’s ability to win the fight was called into question against the younger, stronger man. What happened next is what happened to 44 opponents before Canelo: Mayweather worked him over, and at no point was he in danger of losing the fight. Despite the thorough beating, boxing experts at ringside didn’t think Canelo fought a “bad” fight. He was merely outclassed by a superior opponent. Because of Mayweather’s unmatched talent, it’s become impossible to put boxers like Canelo into their proper historical context. A fighter can look flashy and powerful in one fight, but look completely hapless against Mayweather. The fighters from Mayweather’s era may never reach the all-time upper echelon simply because the man who towered above them all battered them so relentlessly and effortlessly.

How does Canelo-Mayweather relate to Breaking Bad? Simply speaking, Breaking Bad became such a phenomenon all shows look average to mediocre by comparison. The tightly constructed plot, the amazing acting, and the fantastic directing choices have made the show into something bigger than the modest television show about a chemistry teacher turned meth cook it always was. Regardless of how you felt about the final episode, the final season as a whole is a masterclass in how to end a television show. With so many shows staying on too long or ending too soon, it becomes very difficult to get a satisfying final season that feels dramatically on point with the rest of the series. With its remarkable final season, Breaking Bad has officially raised the bar for which all shows are going to be judged.

Here’s the thing: Judging other shows against Breaking Bad is astoundingly unfair. The final season alone basically murdered the final season of Dexter (though the writers helped), and rendered the third series premiere of an EMMY WINNING SHOW completely obsolete. Suddenly, all of these shows are being viewed through the prism of one of the five greatest shows of all-time. In addition to giving us all anxiety disorders for six years, Vince Gilligan has managed to ruin the rest of television for the nation of nitpickers we have now become. As the dust settled around the finale and all of the immediate opinions were digested, I couldn’t help but feel sadness wash over me. One of the best television series of all-time was on my screen, and now its not. Everyone else wants to immediately go looking for the Next Best Thing, but I refuse. I know the journey will prove fruitless. We’re far too splintered and watered down to run across something on this level for a long time, maybe ever. On the whole, television is superior in 2013 than it at any other point in our history. However, as the Golden Age of television slowly fades away, I can’t help but wonder if we’ll ever see shows like Breaking Bad or The Sopranos (my unshakable top 2) again.

Going forward, I resolve to not judge other shows by the standard set by the Golden Age of television. I know it will only end up disappointing me. Moreover, to try to compare new shows to these Hall of Famers like Breaking Bad ends up doing a disservice to both shows. Always remember you were around to watch one of the greatest shows of all-time, just don’t expect anything else to measure up. Like Floyd and Canelo, that outcome is a given.