Big Love, Breaking Bad and Aaron Paul

It had been a while since we had seen Scott on Big Love, and there he appeared last night, all sadness and apologies to Sarah that he hadn’t been around to help her get through the pregnancy and miscarriage.

As Ben punched Scott out last night, the estranged boyfriend seemed … more familiar than in the past.

“Is that the guy from Breaking Bad?” my husband asked.

I answered my husband as I am wont to do, with an offhanded, “Nah, no way.”

Then I paused, looked again. Nah, couldn’t be. By the end of the scene where Sarah and Scott were — ahem — being intimate, I knew it was indeed the hapless Jesse Pinkman from one of my favorite shows on TV, Breaking Bad.

There are two things that make Breaking Bad as awesome as it is: Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul. And Cranston won an Emmy for his awesomeness last year, so that one goes without saying.

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So Aaron Paul is on not one, but two of my favorite shows.

On HBO, as Big Love hurtles toward an incredible season finale next weekend, Scott promises to figure prominently into Sarah’s life.

On AMC, Jesse and Walter just escaped from the insanely murderous (and now dead) Tico (they have Emmy awards for guest stars, no?) and from being discovered by Walter’s brother-in-law, Hank, who’s both a total hardass and a total softie.

For those who haven’t seen it yet, Breaking Bad is among that new generation of serialized dramas: Well-written, well-acted and totally dark.. Cranston plays high school chem teacher Walter White, who found out he has terminal cancer.

He’s undergoing chemo, but he ain’t surviving, or, at least, that’s the show’s conceit.

His wife’s pregnant, though, and his insurance isn’t covering the full costs of his treatment. And did I mention he’s a high school teacher? That salary’s not going to cover the costs of treatment. (Side note: How is it that people who don’t make enough money to pay for treatment have the insurance that doesn’t properly cover the treatment and the people who could probably afford, or at least better afford, it, have insurance that covers a lot more of it?)

So, long story short, he ends up becoming a meth dealer with a former student of his. The money’s great, he has all the know-how, and he can’t get the money to pay his bills and enable his family to survive after he dies by any legit means.

Season 2 began a little more than a week ago and I’d forgotten just how amazing it was in the year between seasons. The premise is utterly preposterous, but in an economy like this, perhaps a little less so than last year.

The writing is great, to be sure, but just like Big Love, what makes it a great show is the cast. Big Love is insanely ridiculous with all its schemes on top of schemes and back stabbing and front stabbing and switching allegiances.

picture-23And on Breaking Bad, Paul has an even bigger role to play than on Big Love. If Cranston is the show’s emotional center, Paul is the show’s comic relief. Despite how disgusting it was, how could you not laugh when he used acid to break down a body in an upstairs bathtub and then was shocked when it came crashing through the tub to the downstairs hallway?

Almost every time his mouth opens, you have to laugh. Or cry. Or want to punch him in the face? (When he told Tico there was chili pepper in the meth they were giving him? Even I knew that was a moron move.)

He’s the embodiment of something my mom once said about meth: Why would you buy a drug made entirely out of chemicals by someone who failed high school chemistry?

If you’ve never seen either show, check them both out.

Big Love‘s season finale is at 9 p.m. Sunday on HBO and looks to be astoundingly amazing.

Breaking Bad is at 10 p.m. Sundays on AMC and is only two shows in. You should have time to catch up via Netflix and/or this newfangled thing here called the Internet and catch a new star in the making.

Photos via AMC.com

2 comments
AmyV
AmyV

I know, we couldn't believe it didn't click sooner. The first two eps this season of BB have been OUTstanding, but if you didn't get into it last year, it's not going to happen. But yeah, Cranston is just so incredible - he's proven he can do true comedy and true drama. I hope he gets lots more where this came from.

erika
erika

I did the same thing while watching Big Love! How did I not know that was Aaron Paul sooner? Even though I tried (and failed after making it almost to the season finale) to get into breaking Bad last season, I am happy it is getting such good press. I love Brian Cranston, and it's always nice to have an actor get recognized for just being good.