“OK, so, I’ve got this idea for a show. Breaking Bad. It’s about a man named Walter White. He’s a chemistry teacher who has cancer and oh yeah, he’s played by the dad from Malcolm in the Middle. Anyway, cancer. His former co-workers offer to pay for his medical bills, but he refuses and instead makes ice-blue meth in New Mexico in an RV with a slacker, drug-addicted student of his. Cancer, chemistry, meth, what am I missing? That’s right: Walter becomes more and more evil, killing people who get in his way, and becoming a monster at home to his wife, who’s looking out for the well being of their teenage kid with cerebral palsy. But don’t worry: it’s going to be hilarious.”
I don’t know how Vince Gilligan pitched Breaking Bad to AMC, but thank god he did, and thank Heisenberg they picked it up. Many consider it to be the greatest TV drama of all-time, or at least in the top-three with The Wire and The Sopranos, but that’s not giving it nearly enough comedic credit. Breaking Bad is really, really funny, funnier than most actual sitcoms. With the premiere right around the corner (in case you hadn’t heard), let’s take a look at some of the funniest moments from 10 SERIOUS TV DRAMAS, including Breaking Bad.
PIZZA HOUSE. (Not to be confused with Walter White’s pizza house. We’ll get to that later.)
Tyrion’s on-trial confessions to Lysa Arryn came early enough in Game of Thrones‘ run that viewers still weren’t sure how they were supposed to react. Was he genuinely pleading his case, getting everything off his chest before something almost certainly bad happened to him, or was he just f*cking around, with only Bronn, showcasing his best “oh brother” face, seeing through the patented Lannister bullsh*t? With the benefit of hindsight, obviously it’s the latter, though I do still wonder what happened to the jackass and the honeycomb in the brothel…?
Justified is breezier and less self-serious than most great TV dramas, which is precisely what makes it’s so great. The show never feels like it’s trying to impress you, because it knows it will — Justified is the TV version of the man who has it all, with a beautiful babe in one hand and a bottle of rye in the other, but you don’t hate him for it; you respect him, goddammit. In other words, Justified is some badass sh*t.
Six Feet Under took great pleasure in finding new, elaborate ways to kill complete strangers in the show’s cold open over its five-season run. There are many classics — the wife who bludgeoned her husband with a frying pan, the woman who got hit in the head with a golf ball, the poor sap who got caught in an elevator, the pouncing mountain lion — but none more darkly funny than what happened to Dorothy Sheedy. She died doing what she loved most: mistaking a group of sex dolls floating from the back of a truck for the Rapture. R.I.P.
Where to begin with The Wire? It’s as intense and soul-crushing as it is deceptively hilarious, whether in Stringer’s “40 degree day” speech or Snoop buying an impressively powerful nail gun or Herc and Carver running into the corner boys at the movie theater or “F*CK” or McNulty’s staged car crash. But I’m going with the desk-moving scene from season one, only because it’s rare instance of physical comedy on The Wire.
If I could react to situations like any fictional TV character, I’d choose Lester Freamon.
With all due respect to Cajun Boy, nothing beats, “You killed the dog?”
On the endlessly brutal and unforgiving Sons of Anarchy, a little comic relief is needed from time to time. Rarely does it come from Jax or Clay, the gruff, humorless leaders, so it’s usually up to Juice to make viewers smile (when they’re not thinking about charred corpses, that is). Obviously the big-breasted Walton Goggins is the best thing about the clip above, but it wouldn’t be the same without Juice helpfully adding, “Slamming c*ck.” That’s a great name for an 1980s hardcore band, too.
Al Swearengen and Mr. Wu > Abbott and Costello
The X-Files was always at its best when it forgot about its confusing, convoluted mythology for a week and instead focused on smaller, funnier stories. “Humbug,” “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose,” “Bad Blood,” and “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space” — those are arguably four of the show’s finest (and most amusing) ten episodes, especially the Darin Morgan-penned “Chung’s,” from season three. Aliens abduct a teenage couple, and upon their return home, their story not only catches the attention of Mulder and Scully, but also author Jose Chung (played by Charles Nelson Reilly) who has to weave together various conflicting accounts of what happened. It was brilliantly meta before “meta” became a catch-all term, and Detective *Bleep* Manners is one of TV’s greatest one-off characters.
Bonus points for this episode having nothing to do with bees.
Too many to choose, so here’s a bunch.
Meth is hilarious.