“The Broken and the Bad” explores the real-life drug worlds dramatized in “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul.”
The new web series is hosted by Giancarlo Esposito — aka Gus Fring, the evil, meticulous drug lord on “Breaking Bad” and its prequel series, “Better Call Saul,” both created by Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould (the driving forces behind “The Broken and the Bad”).
“I was totally on board with doing an investigative show about the real-life ‘Breaking Badders,'” Esposito, 62, tells The Post. “Peter and Vince went and made little documentary pieces on these folks. One gentleman is sort of a ‘Better Call Saul’ lawyer, like Jimmy McGill [Bob Odenkirk], who takes it to the nth degree and is feared and praised by both criminals and prosecutors alike for being outrageous in his personal life.
“Another story is about a family that started a meth cleanup business,” he says. “You never think about places that are contaminated and need to be cleaned up. It’s a story that’s relative to the meth world.”
“The Broken and the Bad.”AMC
Other episodes include the life of a professional grifter a la Jimmy McGill, agents who patrol the borders (echoes of Hank Schrader from “Breaking Bad”) and an in-depth look at Green Bank, West Virginia — home to people who suffer from electromagnetic hypersensitivity, as did Jimmy’s brother, Chuck (Michael McKean), in “Better Call Saul.”
“That episode also reveals why Vince Gilligan wrote the character, knowing that it was a very real disease,” Esposito says. “They take it to the extent that they interview these people who talk about how they live their lives and where they have to go to find peace from electromagnetic radiation.
“There are people that live on the edge,” he says. “To see them dramatized in our shows is one thing — but to meet them as real-life people is fascinating.”
Esposito introduces and narrates each episode and offers some commentary.
“The connection was really between my on-screen persona, and I felt that because Gus is such an analytical character he would be a great fit for a show like this. And all the vignettes are different, so that makes it exciting as well for us to step up and really take a look at the affect drugs have had on our society — and also the affect that these two wonderfully bookended television shows have had on our view of the world.”
“I was going to go to New York and do all my hosting duties in Manhattan, then COVID came up,” he says. “I hadn’t seen the material yet and I said, ‘Look, I really love this idea, why don’t I just do voiceovers?’ When they sent me [the footage] it was so good that I thought there was no possible way for me to tie myself into this via voiceover — that I was going to have to shoot it.
“So they sent me a camera package,” he says. “And I happen to have a filmmaker daughter, Ruby, and we went out into the desert and shot it. It was really wonderful for a father and daughter to have a filmmaking bonding experience … and it gives the audience a more direct connection to the stories.”
Esposito says he would be thrilled to do more episodes of “The Broken and the Bad.”
“For me, as Gus [Fring] and as a human being, I picked a career that is perfect,” he says. “I’m able to learn so much about our world and how we live within it and I can live that example for a little while on each creative project I do. I’m so excited because there are more stories out there.”
Giancarlo Esposito as Gus Fring©AMC/courtesy Everett Collectio
And, he says, Season 6 of “Better Call Saul” could be ramping up production in a few months.
“There’s no definitive answer yet, but there is hope,” he says. “The latest is that the [COVID] protocols have been laid out, which means there are guidelines and everyone has to agree to those guidelines.
“But they’re looking to get back into action in September, so that would be a boon if it could happen,” he says. “We’re all champing at the bit to get back and tell the rest of the story.”