Network Swap: What if ‘Breaking Bad’ Were On Discovery Channel?



Our favorite shows feel perfect for their respective networks: The nude-friendly Game of Thrones is a tried-and-true HBO series, the tortoise-slow Mad Men fits AMC’s intelligent and patient viewers, and The Big Bang Theory never met a laugh track CBS didn’t like. But what if those series appeared on different networks? How would the show change? We’re exploring just that in our Network Swap series. Next up: What if Breaking Bad aired on Discovery Channel?

Series: Breaking Bad

Network: Discovery Channel

TV Rating: TV-PG-D, for some drug-related content. 

Logline: Tag along with Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher, and Jesse Pinkman, his former student and a recovering drug addict, as they explore the dark, scary, and often confusing world of drugs. As Jesse struggles to overcome his addiction, Walter teaches him the science behind the drugs he craves. Will the shocking truth be enough to deter Jesse from his dangerous habit forever? 

Cast: Starring Walter White and Jesse Pinkman as themselves. Narration by Ben Bailey

Breakout Star: Underneath his gruff exterior, Walter’s DEA agent brother-in-law, Hank Schrader, is a giant teddy bear. Viewers will fall in love with Hank as he shows Jesse the criminal consequences of his addiction. Plus, Hank loves to show off his mineral collection! 

Soundbite: “Let’s get cookin’, b***h!”

Sweeps Twist: Walter is diagnosed with lung cancer. The teacher becomes the student as Walt must lean on Jesse for support. 

Reason People Watch: Breaking Bad caters to its audiences’ obsession with learning about the drug trade; viewers love Walt’s no-nonsense approach to drug creation (chemistry is fun when Mr. White’s the teacher!) and Jesse’s guileless one-liners. Ben Bailey’s quippy narration keeps things light even though the subject matter is dark.  

What the Critics Say: Critics were at first skeptical that Walter’s experimentation could carry the show for more a few episodes. The shtick, they complained, would get old. However, the mid-season introduction of Mike Ehrmantraut, a former key player in the New Mexico drug trade who has made the switch to law enforcement, added a new layer of intrigue to the show. 

Spin-Off Possibilities: Rock It!: Fun With Minerals starring Hank Schrader, Deadliest Catch: On Land chronicles Mike’s struggle to stay two steps ahead of the police on his journey to the right side of the law.  


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