Is “Breaking Bad” A Sensational Dark Comedy, Or Is It Just Broken?

I watched the entire first season of "Breaking Bad."  Many people are lauding the show almost as much (or more, depending on the people) as the other AMC show "Mad Men."  I didn’t make it past the first few episodes of "Mad Men" because I found it depressing.  I’ve been told that it gets better, but I haven’t been able to watch any more of it.

"Breaking Bad," even though it deals with deliberate violation of law, did not seem as dark as "Mad Men."  I think the main reason for that is Bryan Cranston, who plays the protagonist, Walter White.  Cranston is able to make the character believable, and make the extremely dark humor at least slightly humorous.  He is an excellent actor.  However, I did not believe the main premise of the show–that a man intelligent enough to make extremely pure meth could not find a legal way to make more money than he does as a teacher.  That whole main premise did not seem like an organic growth from the character.  The parts that seem real are his reactions to situations where he previously acted like a doormat.  Because of Cranston’s talent, the viewer can see the pent-up anger and frustration on Walt’s face, usually right before he does something outrageous.  However, making meth–which is one of the deadliest drugs out there–is a cold-blooded, thought-out process.  It doesn’t compute for me.

I did find the show entertaining in a "why on earth is this guy doing this?" way, but I didn’t feel compelled to keep watching after the first season.