If you’re anything like me, saying goodbye to old friends is always a tough experience. This past Sunday, I, along with over ten million other Americans, bid adieu to Walter White, a character many of us have grown to love, hate and question what the hell was going on in his head. Yes, our favorite chemistry-teacher-turned-meth-cooker-turned-criminal-mastermind took his final bow on the series finale of Breaking Bad this week on AMC. Vince Gilligan, the show’s creator, and his team of writers did a fantastic job of sealing the series shut; they tied up every single loose end that previous episodes had alluded to and ultimately leaving many, if not all questions answered. (Sidenote: if Jesse Pinkman’s humility at the end wasn’t your cup of tea, put yourself in his shoes here.) After five bone-chilling, adrenaline-filled seasons, 10 Emmy awards and a whole lot of meth cooked between Walter (Bryan Cranston) and his counterpart, Jesse (played by Aaron Paul), Breaking Bad is finally broken. Now that Sunday has come and gone, we as fans simply have to accept the fact that Breaking Bad was an incredible television phenomena. Thus, it is time to move on – but to what?
For those of you who are looking to fill your Heisenberg-less television lives and can't stand the wait for Better Call Saul, here are a few suggestions for you:
Showtime’s Homeland, which beat out White and co. in the “Best Drama” category of the 2012 Emmy’s, tells the story of Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), a CIA agent who is struggling to take out al-Qaida terrorists, both in the U.S. and abroad. In the first season, Mathison deals primarily with Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), a Marine who returns home as a hero after being captured eight years prior while on duty in Iraq, who Mathison believes is a "turned" agent. If you are looking for a show that will both leave you satisfied and eager for the next episode, this drama may be a good fit for you. Also, the lack of drugs is easily substituted for interesting relationship and familial dynamics between characters.
2) The Walking Dead
Another AMC show that has taken television audiences by storm. Based off a comic book series of the same name (but who reads the books anymore?), the series follows Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), a deputy who has recently awoken from a coma to find himself in a post-apocalyptic world overrun with terrible flesh-eating zombies. On his journey to find his family, Grimes comes across a few survivors and the group fends off zombies one too many times over the course of the series. Definitely the coolest post-apocalyptic show on television, The Walking Dead will give you the suspense you loved in Breaking Bad, but arguably weak character development.
3) The Wire
We couldn’t stay away from the drug shows that long! This HBO series has been acclaimed as possibly the best drama ever made. Set in Baltimore, the series follows a police department as they initially try to dismantle the drug trade within the city. As the series goes on through its five seasons, the department widens its scope to take on corruption in all different parts of Baltimore, ranging from politics to media. David Simon, a former writer for the Baltimore Sun and an expert on Baltimore’s inner-city neighborhoods, birthed this drama in 2002. While it may not be Hank and Steve Gomez chasing ol’ Heisenberg around rural New Mexico, The Wire could be a nice transition from the cowboy-esque nature of the Albuquerque DEA to the rough and tough, Law and Order-esque Baltimore PD.
If you’ve had enough of meth, maybe you should switch over to Weeds. This Showtime comedy-drama is a different take on an all-too-familiar concept: drug dealing to support one’s family. Weeds focuses on Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker), a suburban mother who takes up the marijuana dealing business to keep her family together after the death of her husband. As the show progresses, Nancy finds herself and her family increasingly caught up in illegal activities, which make for all the more interesting of a show, of course. Weeds and Bad do have a similar plot line, but at the same time have very different settings and different drugs. I would even argue that Weeds is more of a light-hearted show than Breaking Bad, as the Botwin family make the drug trade entertaining while Walter and his alter-ego Heisenberg sometimes scared the crap out of me.
While these shows may fill the void that Breaking Bad has left in our lives, we won’t have to wait long to see more of Walter or Jesse. Bryan Cranston, the mastermind behind Walt’s character, also stars as the happy-go-lucky father Hal on Malcolm in the Middle. Yes, I know you’re a little old for some good ol’ Frankie Muniz, but comparing and contrasting Hal to Walt makes you appreciate Cranston’s abilities as an actor even more. He is also set to have a recurring role on How I Met Your Mother's final season, as Ted's old boss Hammond Druthers.
As for Aaron Paul, you will see him speeding away yet again (oops, I’ve said too much…). Paul has his first leading role in the blockbuster movie Need For Speed, an adaptation of the video game of the same name. Expect to see him in theaters March 2014. Also, if you want to put a little Pinkman in your party, then you may want to consider this for your playlist.