You Can (and Should) Still Catch Up on Breaking Bad

My name is Bill Kuchman, and I am a binge TV watcher.

I've binge-watched It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. This past fall, I binge-watched The Walking Dead. And recently, when I discovered that I had one massive, glaring pop-culture blind spot, a blind spot so big it was threatening my credibility as a pretend pop-culture expert, I binge-watched Breaking Bad.

Now, I have no idea how I missed it in the first place. Breaking Bad premiered in January 2008, while I was still in college. Maybe I was just really, really focused on schoolwork? Nah, that definitely wasn’t it. I’ve had basic cable for years now, so I can’t even use the “I don’t have AMC” excuse. I can play the premium cable card when it comes to The Newsroom or Game of Thrones, but I just don't have a viable excuse when it comes to Breaking Bad.

On June 15, I realized the omission couldn’t stand any longer. That date was exactly one month before Breaking Bad would return for Season 5. My mission: Catch up with Breaking Bad, all 46 episodes, in one month. I fired up Netflix and started watching.

I finished the first season in one night.

After that, it took me just 11 more days to view the rest of the series.

Apparently, I’m not the only one who engages in binge-watching, and based on a recent Slate post by Jim Pagels, we’re a nation on the verge of a binge-watching epidemic. Forget fast food and sugary soft drinks—we’re busy engorging ourselves on DVD box sets and Netflix streams.

Adamantly against the idea of inhaling the entire existence of a TV show at once, Pagels offers many reasons why we should slow down and catch up on TV shows at a leisurely pace. I can’t necessarily say I disagree with any of his reasons—blurring of episodes, ruining of cliffhangers, maintaining a show’s timeline—but there’s one ultimate benefit of binge-watching, and it trumps any reason to slow down and smell the lilies of the valley.

The greatest TV shows create communities of fans, and by catching up, you have the chance to participate in that community.

Back in the days of Lost, my friends and I would gather every week and watch the show together. We’d order food and pick up some beer. After each episode, we’d dissect what happened and make predictions for what would come next. Going into the show’s final season, one friend of mine had never watched Lost. Once he decided he was missing out, he had two options: Devour the first five seasons as quickly as humanly possible and join in our Lost Nights or catch up a few episodes at a time, here and there, probably wrapping up the series months or years after it was over.

My friend chose to fly through those first five seasons, and by the time Lost’s sixth season premiered, he was right there with us, trying to figure out what the heck those other flashbacks were.

Once I started watching Breaking Bad, I knew I wanted that feeling. Could I have slow-played my viewing experience? Of course—but then come July 15, I’d still be behind the game. While my friends were getting together to see just what Vince Gilligan has in store for Walter White and Jesse Pinkman in Season 5, I'd be stuck on Season 2, covering my ears, fearful of spoilers. That’s not the viewing experience I want. When I go into work on Monday, I want to be able to talk to coworkers about the previous night’s episode.

I want to be a part of the community of fans who love Breaking Bad, just like my friend wanted to join our community of Lost addicts.

Is binge-watching how our favorite TV series’ creators meant for us to watch their shows? Perhaps not. But once you’ve seen the light and make it your mission to right your pop-culture-blind-spot wrongs, binge-watching is the only way to fix things. Amazing television brings us together. It creates a bond for people who may not have anything else in common. So log on to Netflix, cue up Breaking Bad, and take care of what has to be taken care of. You may not cross the finish line in time for this Sunday's Season 5 premiere, but if do somehow prop your eyelids open and make it, you're my hero. If you've run out of time? Well, we'd love to have you join us in time for Episode 2.


Breaking Bad returns for Season 5 this Sunday on AMC.

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I could sooo write articles like this for TV.com!!! I just got done binge watching The Shield, Buffy, and Oz. Working my way through Batman: The Animated Series (1992) and Only Fools and Horses now.
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X-Files is a MUST binge watching show. All the over-arching themes are more enjoyable if you remember details and what not...also The Wire is the PERFECT binge show because of how amazing the continuity, and the variety or characters are on that show....
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My first (and best) binge was Buffy, years ago - 7 seasons in a little under two weeks. I wasn't really a big TV fan in general at the time, but Buffy got me into other good TV shows as I tried to fill the void - Angel, Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, 24, Doctor Who, etc. I've been a television addict ever since.
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Are you a shill for Breaking Bad, Netflix or box sets in general? TV is a solitary activity for me. I don't go to work to discuss what TV shows I watched the night before, and I feel no obligation to be caught up on shows. The closest I've come to binge viewing is the first two seasons of The X-Files and The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., but that was because I usually shot pool on Friday nights and the enjoyed the shows, not just to fit in. The annoying thing is binge viewers acting like the normal week-by-week viewers are the abnormal ones (although the viewers who think the actual writers don't know what they're doing are pretty annoying too). We used to ridicule Trekkies. The best shows are the ones that you can watch any given week and get an entertaining story. The "mythology" should only be a reward for the regular viewers, not an impediment to the casual viewers who don't intend to make a TV show their life's passion.
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I also love binge-watching. Of course it's difficult with more procedural shows. But if a series is as good as Breaking Bad, it tells a story from beginning to end without much filler material so it can be watched at once like a big movie.



I binge-watched maybe the majority of all the series I know by now and I don't agree with the points Slater gives. If a show is good I don't "consume" it and throw it away, I rewatch it, talk to other people etc. Shows then get closer to the movie medium but I don't see that as a problem. Movie Anthologies (e.g. Alien 1-4) can also be watched in a row without forgetting about it the next day. Noone would argue that you should wait years before watching Empire Strikes Back to let it sink in. Today everyone watches Star Wars in a row.
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I pretty much only watch shows in one go now, often waiting until they've finished to do so. That way there is no waiting months following cliff-hangers.



My most recent binge-watch has been How I Met Your Mother, I've watched 51/2 of the 6 seasons on Netflix so far in under a month.
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I binge-watched Mad Men seasons, each one of them in like 2-3 days, but each season with 6 months of separation. I still don't know why I do that.

BSG I watched the first 3,5 season in 2 months, just to see the final midseason. I love love love that show.
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I'm catching up right now! Watched seasons 1 and 2 in two days. Starting season 3 tomorrow! And probably finishing it tomorrow too...

Season 4 is still not on Netflix Canada though, I might have to wait a while... or get the DVDs.
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Torrent my friend.... torrent.
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Project Free TV. Google.
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Binged Friday Night Lights and Battlestar Galactica. Best ever.
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Me too, about BSG!! What a great show. Still my favourite sci-fi show (a little better than Fringe).
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Single most ridiculous binge-watching experience of my life (and also a bit sad if I must say so), 6 complete seasons of "Smallville" in 15 days, then the first half of season 7 over the next 3 to catch up with the new episodes in January. I'm proud/ashamed of those 15 days, but I did get caught up.
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I think you have me beat there, by a few days (note to self: must do better)
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Fringe-binge!
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watched 5 seasons of lost in 2 1/2 weeks! and i absolutely LOVED it! binge-watching is the greatest
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I am just like the author of the article. I decided to start watching Breaking Bad last month, and I watched all four seasons in less than 2 weeks. The show is absolutely amazing and addictive. I'm so excited for Sunday night!
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One of my housemates had watched Breaking Bad, and two of us hadn't. He rewatched it with us and we got through 3 seasons in a couple of weeks. Almost up to date now for the premiere of season 5. I love the show.
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My best was binges were Buffy 7 seasons into Angel 5 seasons. Also "marathoned" 4 seasons of 24. 5 seasons of Supernatural. Breaking Bad is on my very short list and now Netflix can help me with some of that. I know I did Its Always Sunny maybe 4 seasons? Breaking Bad, Smallville, Boardwalk Empire, and Fringe are on my very short list.
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7 seasons of The West Wing and The Shield are my favorite binge-watching achievements.
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"The West Wing" is still one of the greatest shows ever.
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I love binge watching, my highlights are seven seasons of Smallville in 3 weeks, and the first 59 episodes of Community in 3 days.
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I used to only watch Big Bang Theory sporadically but decided I needed to watch from the beginning. Got through 100 eps in a couple of weeks in amongst uni work lol
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I binge watched Breaking Bad last summer and caught up in time for season 4. I watched it all in like 2 and a half days. I don't know if I am proud or ashamed to say that I watched all of Lost in a week. That was definitely an addictive show.



I like binge watching, it gives me something to look forward too and its fun to have your own personal marathons instead of watching the crap marathons on television.



Breaking Bad is the greatest show I have ever seen and I can only hope that one day some other show will come along and be even better. If not I can always watch my Breaking Bad DVD box set over and over again with commentary when they eventually create one at the end of the series.
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I've binge-watched Breaking Bad before, but not to catch up. I believe I've watched Breaking Bad since it first premiered and have been watching new episodes as soon as possible (if not that night).



I don't agree or disagree with regards to binge-watching. If it works for you, great. If you prefer savoring it by spreading it around, that's fine too. Sometimes, it really just depends on the show -- I remember getting annoyed at Supernatural when I was binge-watching to catch up on it (I think it had mostly to do with their propensity to have the characters, through dialogue, rehash everything that happened in the previous episode(s).



Anyway, I don't think there's a wrong way to watch Breaking Bad. It's only wrong to not watch it at all.
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This show is dangerously addictive. I loved every single one of the episodes and that never happened before. I have 16 episodes left. I watched 2,5 seasons in two weeks and yes, that is my record lol. I'll join you in time for episode 2! I shouldn't have listened to friends who told me that it was depressive. People, depressive =/= dark.
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Binge watching is the way to go for many shows but not all. Breaking Bad is definitely a show everyone should watch and enjoy in whatever matter necessary.



I disagree with the Slate article. Spoilers being the main reason. Commercials being the second.



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I watched the first 3 seasons in one weekend! Even my meth addiction seems tame by comparison.
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