My wife and I are just now catching up with Breaking Bad. It's a pattern with us, to binge-watch a show a few years after its run is over and it's no longer buzzy.
With no plan in mind, just looking for something to listen to at my desk this morning, I came across a recent Marc Maron podcast where he interviewed Vince Gilligan, the creator and show-runner of Breaking Bad.
Gilligan is a good ol' down-to-earth guy, so it was a pleasure just to spend an hour eavesdropping on him. He was disarming in talking about his career, the debt he owes to Chris Carter and The X-Files, the offhand way he and a friend had the original spark of an idea for a show about a guy who cooks crystal meth. His career path started in Farmville, Virginia, not the likeliest launching point for a show biz career, so that made him extra relatable. He seemed like someone I could have known in school.
Gilligan recounted how he didn't know in advance exactly how things would unfold in BB, plotwise-- that he initially planned to kill Jesse off at the end of Season One; that he lost his sympathy for Walter White but was surprised to see that much of his audience retained their interest in Walter. His account speaks to the potential for collaboration in a television series, for investing in actors and other members of the creative team; perhaps even for incorporating the audience response in how the show would evolve.
None of these are brilliant insights, I realize, but Gilligan's story might be pertinent to me and mine someday, so I want to at least bookmark the link.
It was great that Marc Maron landed an interview with President Obama a few weeks ago. WTF is a great success story of recent years. It's remarkable to sustain something so quirky and personal and oftentimes coming from a place of conflict if not pain. And even with success easing some of Maron's pain, the show remains good. I don't think I'm Maron's target audience exactly, but I've enjoyed a lot of his shows -- I pick and choose a bit from his episode guide. For all kinds of reasons, I like how Maron's guerrilla podcast got onto the agenda of our very shrewd, sensitive, culturally aware Chief Executive. One reason is that some bigfoot media people got slightly sniffy that Obama would give Maron an exclusive interview and not give one to them.