Breaking bad on that TV show

I have never watched "Breaking Bad."

There. I said it.

I was looking for an artful way to say it, something to soften the shocking fact, but sometimes speaking the truth is like peeling off a Band-Aid. Just do it, fast.

But why, the high-minded reader is grumbling, why waste time and space on "Breaking Bad" at all given that the world is hurtling toward Armageddon and, jeez louise, "Breaking Bad" is just a TV show?

Oh, come on, people. You know why.

Because "Breaking Bad" is everywhere these days. It's the Miley Cyrus of TV shows. Wherever you turn, there it is, approaching its series finale Sept. 29 attended by more fanfare than a king at a coronation.

"Breaking Bad" plot updates. "Breaking Bad" actor interviews. Reviewers gushing that "Breaking Bad" is the best TV show ever. Ever.

Proof of its power? Last Sunday's episode of "Breaking Bad" inspired 604,765 tweets.

No wonder those of us who have never seen "Breaking Bad" feel like wallflowers, standing alone while millions of others are merrily twerking at the party.

Fortunately, the "I've Never Watched Breaking Bad Club" is larger than it may seem, and if you're in it, I'm writing today for you, to assure that you aren't the only one who has had to explain to friends and family why you're not watching the greatest TV show ever.

But before we get to why, a few deferential nods.

Let's stipulate that "Breaking Bad" is excellent.

Purely by cultural osmosis, I've absorbed so much about the plot, the actors and the scripts that I have no doubt that it's one of the best TV shows since the era of "Mr. Ed."

And let's stipulate that Bryan Cranston, the star of "Breaking Bad," is a genius. Anyone who saw Cranston Rollerblading in his underwear as the goofy dad on "Malcolm in the Middle" knew way back then that he was a veritable geyser of genius waiting to be uncapped.

Let's also stipulate that "Breaking Bad" is really, really fun to say, which is why I'm repeating it more than is necessary.

But back to why not everyone is watching.

"How many of you have never watched 'Breaking Bad'?" I asked at a luncheon with strangers Tuesday. Half a dozen hands at the table went up, and the reasons ran a gamut that other nonwatchers will recognize:

It's too popular. I don't like to hop on bandwagons.

I'm already hooked on too many TV shows.

I see enough meth and other drug-related dysfunction in my job.

I don't have cable.

"No cable," of course, is not an excuse. It worked back in the dark ages of "The Sopranos" — another show I've never watched — but all the back seasons of "Breaking Bad" are available via DVD and streaming. No excuses, no escape.

My reason for not watching "Breaking Bad" is that — OK, if truth be told — I did watch a few minutes of it once. It was so violent I had to turn away, and the memory of that violence has kept me from returning.

Still, I occasionally share the feeling of a friend who recently confessed on Facebook that she has never seen "Breaking Bad," "The Sopranos," or "The Wire," which in the minds of many constitute the modern TV triumvirate.

"I think that I'm somehow missing out on a big cultural phenomenon," she says, "and that's hard for someone who has always felt pretty tapped in. But even if the shows' content appealed to me, trying to catch up now would be a daunting task. I just don't want to invest the time."

Like every other choice in life, what we watch on TV comes down to time. There's never enough time.

And those who are out of the "Breaking Bad" loop might be consoled by an interview I recently heard with one of the show's stars.

He confessed that he, like other TV actors, didn't have time to watch much TV. He hadn't watched much of "Breaking Bad," he said, but was looking forward to one day watching "The Wire," which, by the way, I will still swear was worth every minute of my life it devoured.

mschmich@tribune.com

CHICAGO

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