Breaking Bad Wind
“I have spent my whole life scared. Frightened of farts that could happen, might happen, might not happen. Fifty years I spent like that. Finding myself awake at 3 in the morning, holding it in. But you know what? Ever since my diagnosis, I fart just fine.”
Breaking Bad Wind is an American drama television series, set and produced in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
It is the two-year-long story of Walter Brown (Bryan Cranston), a struggling high school chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer at the beginning of the series.
Realizing that he has spent his whole life "frightened" of blowing off in front of others, Brown resolves to spend his remaining years alive clocking up as many guffs as possible. He teams up with his former student, Jesse Pinkring (Aaron Paul), a Mexican food addict.
The show was created by Vince Gilligan, a former script writer for the X-Files, who noticed that during three years of the show, "not even Mulder cut the cheese once." He took his idea of a show where the characters had "real lives, real problems, and real gas" to Fox, but the idea was rejected as being too vulgar. So he went to AMC, where it was only that season's eighth most vulgar show.
The show was sold on the "authenticity" of the character's trouser burps. Gilligan said in an interview, "Whatever show, however realist it was supposed to be, always used the same stupid raspberry sounds. From the pilot on, I insisted that all my actors drop their guts for real."
Such was Gilligan's quest for professionals, he even employed Giancarlo Esposito as Gas Fring, a Chilean overlord, despite the fact that Esposito spoke very poor Spanish. "To me the two balanced each other out," Gillian explained. "His Spanish wasn't the best, but no one who ever shot a scene with Gian could doubt his dedication. There was one day when Bryan [Cranston] just kept fluffing a line. Gian must have had to compliment the chef twelve takes in a row, and he did it. That's a professional."
For the first few seasons, all actors were expected to brew one up on the spot. As the series went on, the script called for more and more parps (see Season 4, below) and Gilligan reluctantly agreed to let actors record their toots when they felt one coming, in a makeshift, on-set recording studio, called the Cook House.
- Bryan Cranston as Walter Brown – a chemistry teacher diagnosed with lung cancer who turns to making methane. As his dark side grows, Walter gains a notorious reputation under the name of Volta, after Alessandro Volta, the discoverer of methane. Cranston said he was attracted to the idea of playing a terminally ill man after six years working with Frankie Muniz on Malcolm in the Middle.
- Anna Gunn as Skyler Brown – Walter's wife who was extremely bloated for the first two seasons, possibly with wind. She becomes increasingly suspicious of her husband's constant sneaking out.
- Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkring – Walter's former student, Pinkring, is a Mexican food addict who partners up with Walt and makes high-level methane. Aaron Paul was born in Oxford, England, and had to work hard at developing his street talk. He recalls, "About halfway through season 1, it hit me: just start every sentence with 'eh yo' and call men 'bitch'."
- Dean Norris as Hank Schrader – Walter and Skyler's brother-in-law and a Federal Ambiental Health Department (FAHD) agent. There is a constant tension throughout the series, as Walter is almost constantly baking brown biscuits right under Schrader's nose.
- RJ Mitte as Walter Brown, Jr. – Walter and Skyler's son, who was born with a serious handicap - no anus whatsoever. This means that when he speaks, he sounds like shit.
- Giancarlo Esposito as Gas Fring – a high end-low end distributor, who as an owner of a fast food chain Los Pedos Grandes, produces more methane in the south west than all the cows you could name.
- Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodfayer – a sleazeball lawyer who often brings moments of light relief to the show, and who, every week, tells Walter and Jesse a new expression based around farts. (See Planned Prequel, below.)
Season 1 (2008)
“Nah, come on, man, some straight like you doesn't decide all of a sudden - at age what? 60? - that he's just going to break wind.”
Struggling high school chemistry teacher Walter Brown is diagnosed with inoperable, advanced lung cancer. When the doctor gives him the news, Brown accidentally breaks wind, and something inside him snaps. In his soul that is, not like something literally snapped in his bowels. He decides never again will he hold his farts in.
On a ride along with his FAHD agent brother-in-law Hank (Dean Norris), Walter sees a former student of his, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), fleeing the scene of a burning Mexican restaurant. It dawns on Brown that with his chemical knowhow and Jesse's street smarts and contacts, they could produce the purest methane known to man. He later contacts Jesse and the pair team up.
Walter and Jesse's chemically enhanced "meth" soon proves popular but draws the attention of the Mexican community, who like to have a monopoly on farts in the region. They are kidnapped by Tuco Salamanca, who takes them to his ranch in the middle of the desert. Tuco is ultimately shot dead by Hank, there on FAHD business, for crimes against nostrils. The FAHD takes Tuco's senile uncle, Tio Salamanca, prisoner but he refuses to cooperate with the authorities. (See right.)
Season 2 (2009)
“You are joking, right? If I gave you that money, you would shit the bed inside of a week.”
Walter finds himself facing insurmountable medical bills from his cancer treatment. He turns from using the flatulence-producing food on himself to mass-producing it for others.
His and Jesse's incipient "distributing" runs into early trouble, when a couple of local taco addicts fart right into the face of one of their associates. Walter demands that Jesse go to their house and "handle it". However, Jesse is no enforcer, and only narrowly escapes death when the wife of the couple pushes an ATM (A Turd Monster) onto her husband, killing him.
Jesse flees the scene, but becomes more and more of a heavy user of chilli, so much so that he causes his new neighor Jane Margolis to develop a habit. The two begin consuming so much Mejicano that Walter refuses to give Jesse his half of the money until he gets "clean" (in the pants department). Increasingly concerned about his partner's health, Walt breaks into his house to find Jesse asleep next to Jane. He lets a badger loose directly into her mouth, killing her (See right). Meanwhile, Skyler starts to smell something fishy and demands a separation.
Season 3 (2010)
“I fucked Ted. I let him break my bad.”
Walter wishes to reunite his family, but Skyler is still suspicious of Walter. Walter believes he can mend the tension between them by confessing to her that he has been producing methane. Skyler is appalled by the confession and demands a formal divorce. Some time later, she begins an affair with Ted, her colleague, and, tellingly, consents to anal sex with him, so as to "block" the orifice that is at the bottom of all their troubles.
Meanwhile, Gas Fring offers to pay Walter $3m to bring his chemical wizardry to his novelty Mexican restaurant chain, Los Pedos Grandes, where customers pay through the nose to burn through the butt. Jesse finally gets his pants clean, but continues to produce methane by himself. However, he struggles to produce the chemically pure farts that Walter managed, and Hank is sniffing around, on his trail.
Season 4 (2011)
“I am not in danger, Skyler. I AM the danger. A guy opens his door and gets taken out and you think that of me? No. I AM THE ONE WHO TOOTS!”
The degeneration of Walter's moral character becomes clear: he has moved on from simply farting openly in front of others in Season 1, to producing his own methane-inducing concoctions on a mass industrial level. He now openly wishes to make the entire South West so flatulent that it will become a national security threat.
Jesse begins to spiral out of control, depressed by the death of Jane in season 2 and his general malignant effect on society. In a symbol of his change, episode 4 shows him shaving his own and others' buttocks during a rave at his house.
However, Walter and Jesse are bound together by their common enemy - Gas Fring - who is attempting to get the most pure methane out of the pair, all the while playing them off against a flatulent cartel of Mexicans. Walter ultimately kills Fring, posing underneath Tio Salamanca's chair.
The season was the most poorly received of the series, with critics complaining that the characters' flatus, which had at one point been used sparingly, was now so constant it was difficult to understand the dialogue.
Season 5 (2012-13)
“All bad wings come to an end.”
The show's moral agent comes back with a vengeance. Walter is depicted as being wracked with paranoia about being caught by the authorities, and is constantly spraying air freshener in his wake. Despite Walter's best efforts, Hank begins to smell a rat.
Hank's suspicions are confirmed when he finds a book of dirty limericks which had been given to Walter by an ex-associate of Fring's. Hank's reaction is one of the most famous moments of the series (See right). Hank angrily confronts Walter, accusing of him of "rubbing my nose in it" for the last two years, but without evidence, he struggles to pull the plug on (or rather, plug up) Walter's operations.
Walter's just deserts consequently come from a difference source: after two seasons of little or no mention of his illness, he receives some shock news: while his lung cancer has "cleared up nicely", years of abusing his sphincter has led to him developing rectal cancer. The last episode ends ambiguously, with a close up of Walter's buttocks and what appears to be a tiny episode of flatus. Some fans see this as Walter "exhaling his last" while others maintain it is a sign that his wind, like his indomitable will, shall go on.
Critical reception was initially mixed, with some critics turning their noses up at the show. Daniel Thomas of the New York Times sniffed, "If HBO regularly takes this country's television to the gutter, AMC seems content to stay in the toilet."
However, John Taylor of the Los Angeles Times said, "They say farts are like your kids - you only love your own. But I have to say, I love Bryan Cranston's too."
And Michael Barryman of the Detroit Newspaper wrote, "This show combines real farts with real emotion - that's nothing to be sniffed at."
Some critics complained that the show made no sense at all, with Michael Smith of the Miami Herald asking, "Are we expected to believe that Walter Brown's air truffles are so special that a hard-nosed criminal like Gas Fring would let him live? The plot stinks."
Terry Byman, initially a supporter of the show, disliked the change in Walter's character in season 5. "He has gone from anti-hero to monster. Once I celebrated Walter's bottom burps as the warcry of the downtrodden everyman - but this season his farts have really put my nose out of joint."
Many social commentators kicked up a stink about the way the series glorified flatulence, with the consequent possibility of copycat crimes. "I know that - somewhere in America - there is a kid watching Breaking Bad Wind, and brewing up some methane at the same time, and that makes my stomach turn," said Reverend Jackie Jesson.
The show won several MTV Awards, including Most Farts in An Original TV Series and Nicest Ass for Aaron Paul.
The show has proved successful enough for AMC to commission a prequel, Better Call Saul, based on the adventures of Walter and Jesse's lawyer, Saul Goodfayer.
It is not clear as to what the content of the new show will be, because Saul's primary function on the show was to introduce and explain a fart expression every week.
Writer Vince Gilligan likened the device to Colombo's regular references to his wife, "except we replaced the spouse with an anus". Even the character's name is a pun on "It's all good for you", referring to the relief of expelling a brass eye-opener.
Gilligan reflected in a 2011 interview that the "Beans, Beans the Musical Fruit" rhyme was a heavy influence on him at the time. "I just kept thinking about that line - 'the more you toot, the better you feel'. I'd say it over and again, turning it around in my head - I think in the end I drove my wife crazy with it! But I knew I wanted to make a reference to that with Saul's name, and so Saul Goodfayer was born."
However, Gilligan has recently revealed that Saul's scenes were among the most difficult to write. "It started off fun, slipping fart references in at every available moment. But it soon became an albatross around our necks.
"I have the utmost respect for anyone who manages to write about farts, week in, week out and keeps it fresh."