TV Party

TV Party: The Juan Maclean Talk Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad ended its five-season run almost exactly one year ago, on September 29, 2013, forcing us to say goodbye to our favorite meth manufacturers, and to say goodbye to feeling so stressed out pretty much all the time about whether or not Jesse was going to die. The series is still missed by many, including the Juan Maclean’s John MacLean and Nancy Whang. Join us as we remember the “good” times, and reminisce about all our old (murderer) pals.

KELLY: Are you guys big Breaking Bad fans?
JOHN: Yes, for me it is perhaps my favorite show of all time.
NANCY: Yeah, I was really into it.
KELLY: It’s maybe my favorite, too.
NANCY: I am a little glad it’s over.
KELLY: It did add a lot of stress.
NANCY: I feel like I’ve gotten part of my life back.
JOHN: I think I have a bit of a different perspective than most people, however. I never saw Walter White as a bad guy, or even an anti-hero. I always thought he was a guy just trying to do the right thing. I admired him, and I thought Skyler was very unsupportive and I would have understood if he killed her.
JOHN: The finale bothered me, though.
KELLY: In what way?
JOHN: I never thought of it as a morality tale, I perceived it to be somewhat amoral, and the finale seemed to tie everything up too cleanly with Walter getting some sort of “deserved” ending. The pacing of the show was so slow, which I loved, and then suddenly in the last episode all these things are happening very quickly, too many leaps of believability. It would have been more interesting if Walter had lived.

KELLY: It did seem like a rush to the finish line, but I don’t particularly agree that Walt should’ve lived. Why do you say that?
JOHN: I think I identified with Walt quite a bit. He didn’t just make one giant leap into being “bad,” he crossed a series of lines.
NANCY: In the beginning it was about taking care of his family, but ultimately it wasn’t necessarily out of love. It was about feeding his ego.
JOHN: Yes! I think that’s what I identified with — not the love part.
NANCY: Showing that he was a man who could take care of his family without any help.
KELLY: Regain pride in the work he was doing.
JOHN: But he was just trying to set them up for the future, maybe future generations of Whites, and that takes a lot of money, but I appreciated the pride he had for his work. He loved his job. It’s like making music, really.
KELLY: Making meth is like making music?
JOHN: Yes. Except you don’t make money.
NANCY: I think he loved being the best. Do you like being the best, Juan?
KELLY: How many kids would you poison to remain the best, Juan?
NANCY: Well he’s got 2…
JOHN: He didn’t kill that kid though, he only poisoned him. I would poison my kids a little bit if it meant being good at something. Not all the way though, not like dead.
NANCY: Just damaged.
JOHN: Just a little bit. And just if it couldn’t be traced back to me.
NANCY: Just enough so they can be grateful for all you’ve given them.
JOHN: Yes, exactly.
KELLY: That seems reasonable.
JOHN: Breaking Bad is definitely the darkest show of all time I think, and that’s what I like. I don’t like shows that make you laugh or feel good, because that’s not real life.

KELLY: It’s definitely very dark. I think that’s due largely to how realistic and deliberate it was, most of the time — meaning, like you said, you were able to understand Walt’s decision-making process. And Jesse’s.
JOHN: Yes, it’s crossing a series of lines that seem just a “little” bad at the moment. I’m not very excited about Better Call Saul.
KELLY: I was going to ask about that.
JOHN: It seems like it will be comedic in some way. One thing I loved about Breaking Bad is that there was never a comedic moment, and it seems like Americans always need a comedic break.
KELLY: That’s not true! What about pizza on the roof, and Jesse chugging water at the dinner table. It got less and less comedic as it went on, but certainly — during the first season at least — there were sometimes little comedic bits.
JOHN: Did Walt throw a pizza on the roof? I don’t remember.
KELLY: Yeah:
JOHN: But it’s not an overt attempt to make people LOL.
NANCY: The car Walt drove was pretty comedic.
JOHN: I almost bought one of those cars, same color, too. It’s the ugliest car ever made. I hated Skyler, I think that’s why he threw the pizza on the roof? She didn’t want it?
KELLY: Hmm I don’t remember actually. Is that why?
JOHN: Yeah he brought her a pizza and she rejected him. She was so ungrateful and not supportive at all.
KELLY: After all he did for her. Put her entire family in danger, destroy her life, bring her a pizza.
JOHN: AND she slept with her boss.
KELLY: Breaking Bad really seemed to purposely portray her as unlikable for a long time.
JOHN: Yeah but I think a lot of people felt sorry for her.
KELLY: You don’t think that was reasonable at all — to feel sympathetic? Her husband was a monster.
JOHN: No, she was so nasty to him. Walt Jr. was a great character though.
NANCY: I think she contributed largely to the crushing of Walt’s ego and why he felt so desperate to regain control.
JOHN: Yes, most of his motivation seemed to be about getting her back, which I never understood. Because with that kind of money he could get all kinds of girls.
NANCY: It was all about winning, which is why I started losing empathy for him. He was weak.
JOHN: That was his weak spot, Skyler.
NANCY: In trying to prove his might he just exposed his weakness.
JOHN: What was the baby’s name?
NANCY: “The baby.” Holly.

JOHN: I think he should have had the baby killed, would have solved a lot of problems. But that might have been too dark.
KELLY: Hahaha, WHAT problems would that have solved?
JOHN: IDK I just thought it would be cool. Crossing a line that hasn’t been crossed on TV.
NANCY: OR he should have survived with the baby and they could have run away together and he could have trained her to be the best meth cooker ever.
KELLY: That would have been cute, really. I’d watch that spinoff.
JOHN: That would have been a much more interesting ending. It feels like they succumbed to some American need to tie everything up at the end, AND to have it be morally correct.
KELLY: Everyone’s lives were still ruined, though. Hank died. And who knows how far Jesse got, speeding like he was.
JOHN: Yes exactly, like “that’s what you get for being a drug dealer.” Whereas the Sopranos series finale is brilliant because life just goes on for the family, no resolution.
KELLY: That’s up for interpretation though, right?
JOHN: No, he lives. It ends with the scene in the restaurant, the family eating dinner.
KELLY: Right, but when it cuts to black
JOHN: That’s it, that’s the end. Life goes on.
KELLY: I feel like you’re pranking me, and I do NOT like pranks.
JOHN: I don’t either. The series finale of Lost, however, is the worst in history. I guess the season finale for Breaking Bad falls somewhere between that of The Sopranos and Lost.
KELLY: Wow, you really didn’t like it!
JOHN: It’s not in keeping with the tone or pacing of the rest of the show.
KELLY: I had the same problem with Gus’ end.
JOHN: Gus’ end was ridiculous!!!!!
KELLY: It was too cartoonish, the tone was really off.
JOHN: That ridiculous, gory shot with his head half blown off!?!? It was like some sort of joke. It was unprecedented on the show. I liked Gus.
KELLY: I’m SURE you loved Gus.

NANCY: Was that their shark jump?
JOHN: Yes they jumped the shark like Fonzie. I’ve had Gus’ chicken, it’s very good.
KELLY: It was their shark jump but they landed in smooth waters and just kept surfing.
JOHN: That’s a great way to put it. I liked the back story of how Gus came to power. The pool scene made me have a lot of respect for him, and I liked how Gus was very professional.
KELLY: The pool scene did endear him to me, too, a bit. Gus was a really great character.
KELLY: Did you guys like Jesse?
JOHN: I thought Jesse was a bit contrived, like he was the “dumb bad guy” you were supposed to have a soft spot for. Where is Nancy?
KELLY: Did you murder her?
NANCY: I’m here, just letting Juan air his agenda.
KELLY: I figured Juan would not particularly like Jesse.
JOHN: I guess I’m predictable.
KELLY: If it makes you feel better, I have been very surprised by every single other thing you’ve said.
JOHN: Ok, I feel better now.
KELLY: I thought Jesse was great. A great show full of great characters.
JOHN: All the characters were great. Even better than Vince Gilligan’s first show, Gilligan’s Island.


The Juan Maclean’s In A Dream is out on DFA.