On Breaking Bad spin-off Slippin’ Jimmy

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A photo of the cast of Breaking Bad that must be from like, two spin-offs ago. The Peabody Awards via Wikimedia

Is the spin-off of a spin-off just too many spins?

by amir said, contributor

Breaking Bad is consistently rated by both critics and fans as one of the greatest television shows of all time, with its compelling plot and captivating characters enthralling audiences since its debut in 2008. After an electrifying and satisfying ending in 2014, not to mention a spin-off and a movie that (hot take) was illogical and not necessary to the show’s storyline, showrunner Vince Gilligan has decided to continue the expansion of the hit television show’s universe in the most logical way: by creating a spin-off…of the show’s spin-off.

Slippin’ Jimmy, an animated spin-off of Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call Saul, is set to debut this spring. The show will follow Jimmy McGill (better known as Breaking Bad supporting character and Better Call Saul protagonist Saul Goodman) and his friends getting themselves into all sorts of wacky shenanigans in the Chicago suburbs. With Rick and Morty animators and Better Call Saul writers collaborating on this show to produce a parody of beloved cartoons like Fat Albert and Peanuts while remaining faithful to the source material, this series is set to be, for lack of any other better terminology, an interesting spin-off.

Having read that and realized how many times the term “spin-off” was written, one question arises: is this show really necessary?

Slippin’ Jimmy aims to showcase Saul Goodman’s troubled past, but here’s the thing: the already-existing Breaking Bad spin-off, Better Call Saul, exists for precisely the same reason. It brilliantly showcases Saul Goodman’s troubled past, both as a child and as an adult, and expands his character, elevating him from the goofy comic relief character he was in Breaking Bad to a tragic and multi-dimensional anti-hero. Giving him one spin-off, and one with the same tone as Breaking Bad at that, is one thing – but a spin-off of the spin-off? That seems a bit excessive.

Saul Goodman’s childhood has already been described in enough detail. We know everything we need to know about Saul: that he was a scammer who swindled people in his neighborhood, including his own father, simply because he felt like it. Using Better Call Saul to showcase his childhood has helped fans understand the tragic character of Saul Goodman in greater depth. A comedic cartoon telling the exact same story but with slapstick humor and parodies? That cheapens not only his character but the dramatic nature of the franchise as a whole. It may be soon to say definitively, but judging by the promotional materials released thus far, this contributor is not impressed.

This trend of unnecessarily expanding fictional universes as a marketing gimmick for subscription services like Netflix and Disney+ is a disconcerting one. Star Wars, DC, and Jurassic Park are among the prominent franchises that have gone down this road, and it seems that Breaking Bad’s once-infallible legacy is being trodden upon for commercial benefit, with Slippin’ Jimmy set to make its debut exclusively on AMC+. It’s sad to say that, as a die-hard Breaking Bad fan who has seen the show over a dozen times, I’ve had enough of the expansion and want the franchise to end.

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