Tonight, AMC's critical darling "Breaking Bad" will air its penultimate episode. Next week, it will air its finale. The week after that, the world will fall into a dark depression while staring blankly at reruns of "The Mentalist."
A lot of ink, mostly digital, has been spilled about how "Breaking Bad" is the greatest television show of all time — the other commonly accepted contenders to this title are "The Wire" and "The Sopranos" — and while that may sound like hyperbole to the outsider, I can reassure you without a shadow of a doubt that the sentiment is justified.
Everything about "Breaking Bad" is top-notch, gold standard stuff: the acting, the writing, the direction, the music, the cinematography (despite being about one of the ugliest subjects facing our modern times, "Breaking Bad" remains one of the most beautifully lensed television programs in history), the humor, the suspense. It is captivating.
So why aren't you watching "Breaking Bad?"
I've racked all of my brain and most of the Internet to come up with an answer. The following are acceptable reasons:
YOU ARE FROZEN IN CARBONITE. Lando sold you out to the Empire. Guess you shouldn't have double-crossed Jabba the Hutt.
The good news here is that you're Han Solo. The bad news is that the airtight block of carbonite you are imprisoned in does not get AMC.
When Leia eventually thaws you out, you will experience a short period of blindness — side effects from the carbonite — but after that passes, you will be able to catch up on "Breaking Bad." You'll probably watch the episodes back to back and not have to wait an excruciatingly long week in between like the rest of us, you lucky dog.
YOU HAVE STRICT RELIGIOUS BELIEFS THAT REQUIRE YOU TO WATCH MEDIOCRE TELEVISION. Is Ted Danson still on "C.S.I."? Does LL Cool J do a better job "NCIS"-ing Los Angeles than Chris O'Donnell? Is Dr. McDreamy still with whatsherface?
Of course, you know the answers to all of those questions, because it is your spiritual duty as a card-carrying member of the Church of Boring Television. You can't help it: That's the way the television raised you.
If truth be told, you'd love to watch something thrilling, original and unpredictable — something that really engages you and demands your attention — but you're afraid of defying the church, and you're unsure of what you'll run into out there in the wild. There might be F-bombs, nudity and unhappy endings.
YOU ARE STILL TRYING TO GET THAT PIZZA OFF THE ROOF. That is a "Breaking Bad" reference that you would have understood if you were already watching the show.
YOU ARE NOT ALIVE IN THE SENSE THAT YOU ARE ACTUALLY, PHYSICALLY, CLINICALLY, LEGALLY DEAD. Your name is Lord Chancy Blackwell, and you drowned on the Titanic's maiden voyage. Not surprising that you're reading The News-Gazette. (Rimshot.) I kid, I kid. The afterlife is one of our most loyal subscribers.
YOU ARE A HOUSEHOLD PET WHO LACKS THE NECESSARY DIGITS TO OPERATE THE DVR. It's hard to be a goldfish living in a house that belongs to the Church of Boring Television. You could fake your own death and hope your owner flushes you somewhere with cable, or you can accept your fate to spend Friday nights with Tim Allen as the "Last Man Standing."
YOU ARE A SMALL CHILD, EXPECTANT MOTHER OR HAVE HEART PROBLEMS. "Breaking Bad" can get pretty intense. The subject matter is intense. The emotions are intense. The plot twists are intense.
"Breaking Bad" is one of only a handful of television shows that have caused me to jump up from my couch and scream at the TV in a fit of excitement. The show will work your adrenaline glands like the fat kid at boot camp. There has never been a show better at turning the screws than "Breaking Bad." It will take your breath away, sometimes more than once in a scene, and for more than one reason.
IT STARS THE DAD FROM "MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE." UGH, THAT SHOW WAS THE WORST. I know, I know and I feel you. I avoided the first three seasons of "Breaking Bad" because of my intense dislike for "Malcolm in the Middle" (I can't explain why, but that show and "Scrubs" have always caused me to break out in an allergic reaction of utter hatred).
But it just serves as a testament to the awesome acting abilities of Bryan Cranston that he can play such a goofy boob of a man for so many years and then switch to the cold, calculating Walter White.
The following are unacceptable reasons why you aren't watching "Breaking Bad":
YOU DON'T HAVE CABLE. People still have cable? It's called Netflix, bro. For the cost of two pumpkin spice lattes a month, you could fund an epic "Breaking Bad" binge. As for the new episodes, you have multiple options: iTunes, Amazon Instant, bit torrents, your rich friend's house.
YOU ARE A CONTRARIAN AND DISLIKE ANYTHING THAT I LIKE. What would happen if I told you I liked your attitude of cool indifference toward everything? Would your head explode?
If you haven't started watching "Breaking Bad" yet, it's not too late.
You have seven days. There are five seasons, with about 13 episodes each, so you'd have to knock out a season per day, which would be 13 hours a day (minus commercials), which still leaves you plenty of time to sleep, shower and ignore the kid.
Ryan Jackson secretly watches "Last Man Standing" and "Reba," and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.