I just wanted to enjoy my morning. I wanted to sit here and sip my coffee and catch up on the small and large pleasures that Internet writing has to offer. I wanted to ease my way into the day.
But fucking Chuck Klosterman had to ruin it. Because this? This cannot stand.
I can’t spend my days deconstructing and whining about every column on Grantland, because there’s not enough time in the day. I can’t even tear apart every single Rick Reilly column — even when he tries to make us feel sorry for professional golfers (Poor Justin Leonard! What a hard life.).
Klosterman managed to write a piece praising Breaking Bad — which I love and which is worthy of praise — and still piss me off.
there doesn’t seem to be much debate over what have been the four best television shows of the past 10 years. It seems like an easy question to answer, particularly since it’s become increasingly difficult to write about the state of TV (or even the state of popular culture) without tangentially mentioning one of the following four programs — The Sopranos, The Wire, Mad Men, and/or Breaking Bad.
Deadwood. Deadwood. Deadwood.
Until, of course, you try to suggest that one of these shows is somehow better than the other three. Then it becomes a fucking bloodbath.
No. Pretty much everyone agrees that the best show of all time is The Wire. Anyone who has seen it thinks that. And even people who haven’t seen it recognize that it’s probably true. There’s no debate. The Wire is the best show ever. No duh, Chuck Klosterman. A bloodbath? No, the conversations go like this:
INT. BAR – NIGHT
Reasonably Intelligent Person #1: So, what’s the best TV show of all time?
Reasonably Intelligent Person #2: The Wire.
Reasonably Intelligent Person #3: Definitely The Wire.
Reasonably Intelligent Person #1: Agreed.
Reasonably Intelligent Person #4. I haven’t seen The Wire. But that’s what I hear.
Chuck Klosterman: No! I’m a contrarian! I’m a deep, Gladwellian thinker! Hear me out on this….
The four reasonably intelligent people leave the bar.
There’s never been a more obstinate fan base than that of The Wire; it’s a secular cult that refuses to accept any argument that doesn’t classify The Wire as the greatest artistic endeavor in television history.
Just because people believe something to be true doesn’t mean it isn’t true. I also believe George W. Bush was the worst president of my lifetime. Does that make me a member of an anti-Bush secular cult? (That would be a pretty awesome cult.)
It’s almost as if these people secretly believe this show actually happened, and that criticizing the storyline is like mocking an episode of Frontline. This was not a documentary about Baltimore: Wallace is not alive and playing high school football in Texas, Stringer Bell was not reincarnated as a Pennsylvania paper salesman, and you are not qualified to lecture on inner-city education because you own Season 4 on DVD.
No one believes this. Good strawman, though. And your preemptive attempts to deflect criticism will not deter me.
Mad Men has the most fascinating collection of character types
The Sopranos was the most fully realized
Breaking Bad is the best of the four
[Breaking Bad’s] acting is probably the best of the four
Breaking Bad is the only one built on the uncomfortable premise that there’s an irrefutable difference between what’s right and what’s wrong, and it’s the only one where the characters have real control over how they choose to live.
Not only is that entirely incorrect — I would argue all four shows hold that premise — but it’s a ridiculously academic and arbitrary standard on which to judge television shows. Go back to sleep, Klosterman.
Don Draper is a bad husband, but “that’s just how it was in those days.”
You have massively misunderstood Mad Men.
Then there’s a bunch of stuff about why Breaking Bad is great. Which it is. And Klosterman’s reasoning is generally on the money. But he never remotely defends his criteria for why Breaking Bad is better than the other shows he listed (or Deadwood). It’s almost like he picked an arbitrary fight to increase page views and enrage bloggers who are too weak not to take the bait.