The Future of Classic

By on Aug 1, 2009 in Raves |

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Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston of "Breaking Bad"

The following post was originally published on my old blog on July 7, 2009.

After watching the second-season finale of Breaking Bad, the dramatic series about a chemistry-teacher-turned-meth-dealer desperate to not let his cancer treatment bankrupt his family, I had one thought: thank God this show is on AMC.

With the premiere of Mad Men two years ago, AMC went from musty movie channel to leading cable destination overnight. And now with the network’s second dramatic series Breaking Bad attracting its fair share of critical acclaim (and even a leading-actor Emmy win for Bryan Cranston), AMC is establishing itself as a network that values quality over quantity. Unlike the broadcast networks, it has no reason to fill its primetime schedule with series each fall and hope that at least a few are commercial successes (let alone critical success). It has the freedom to develop series more thoroughly and thoughtfully.

And shows on AMC risk virtually no chance of cancellation. If a show on any of the big four networks pulled in Breaking Bad‘s numbers (around 1.4 million viewers on average), it would be axed instantly. But 1.4 million viewers, for a previously-obscure network like AMC, is a windfall. So with no threat of extinction—and a supportive network, to boot—AMC seems like a writer’s and producer’s paradise, as long as those writers and producers don’t mind small audiences.

The second season of Breaking Bad was even edgier, more stimulating, and more tragic than the first. If this were a broadcast network show, I’d be sweating about whether a third season would ever transpire. But the show was renewed four episodes into last season. Thank God this show is on AMC.