‘Breaking Bad’, Vince Gilligan’s immensely popular, 16 Emmy award-winning TV show was, in his own words, rejected by all the major networks like HBO, Showtime, and FX before it finally found a home on AMC.
Recognised as one of the best TV shows to come out in the last couple of decades, Vince Gilligan’s magnum opus had to face rejections from several huge networks, all of whom must be understandably disappointed in their judgement taking into account the show’s performance.
- How did Vince Gilligan create ‘Breaking Bad’?
- Why did it get rejected multiple times?
- How did the show finally receive the green flag from AMC?
How did Vince Gilligan create ‘Breaking Bad’?
In his own words, Vince Gilligan had been going through a mid-life crisis and, at around the same time, jokingly proposed a plan to sell methamphetamine (the same drug that the show ‘Breaking Bad‘ is centred around) in an RV, while driving through the American Mid-West.
He says in an interview that the idea for the show had struck him right at that moment and he rushed to create a pilot episode for what he calls the “worst mid-life crisis story”. He says that he had to put himself into the protagonist’s, Walter White’s, shoes and figure out how he could step into a life of crime at his age.
In the show, Walt Whitman, played by Bryan Cranston, is a middle-aged chemistry teacher at a high school who finds out that he has cancer and puts his chemistry degree to work cooking “crystal meth” alongside his former student Jesse Pinkman (played by Aaron Paul). The show ran for a total of five seasons receiving the highest ratings and much critical acclaim.
The series has also given birth to a prequel series about the criminal lawyer Saul Goodman’s life (‘Better Call Saul’) and a movie based around Jesse Pinkman’s escape from his captors (El Camino).
Why did the show get rejected several times?
According to the show creator, getting the pilot episode accepted on one of the major networks was proving to be very difficult. One of the primary reasons why it had to face so many rejections was the fact the show was literally based around a middle-aged man cooking methamphetamine in an RV.
The other big reason that had come into play there was that most of the networks already had one or more shows centred around drugs at that time. Showtime had already given a nod to the show ‘Weeds’.
HBO simply passed on ‘Breaking Bad’ because they didn’t want to air a show about a meth-cooking genius. Even though FX had formally acquired the rights for ‘Breaking Bad’, they made the unwise decision to focus on their other show about drugs, the Courtney Cox starring ‘Weeds’. A decision they must have thoroughly regretted.
FX instead sold the rights for the show to AMC, which agreed to put the show on air.
How did the show finally receive the green flag from AMC?
After FX had made the decision to focus on ‘Weeds’ instead of ‘Breaking Bad’, AMC bought the rights to the show. At the time, AMC was enjoying the success of another incredibly successful and critically acclaimed show ‘Mad Men’. The network sought to change things up a bit and bring on something new and exciting to its repertoire.
Vince Gilligan was given the okay for the show to enter production in 2008. The show went on to have record ratings and attention, season after season, after culminating with the end of the fifth season in September 2013. The last episode of the fifth season had garnered one of the highest scores on IMDB.
The show received many awards over the course of its 5 seasons such as the 16 Emmy Awards, a Golden Globe, a People’ Choice award and the list goes on.