I never watched Firefly either, because I was never home on Friday night. I did buy the series, and it was exactly as I predicted: it was about freedom from the State, and having a home.
I never watched Breaking Bad because I don't have cable and rarely watch TV. I will, however, buy the series, and I already know what it will be about: freedom, just like Firefly. These days, any truly popular and edgy series will have to be about freedom.
How do I know these things? Artists, as Ezra Pound wrote, are the antenna of the race. And it's been noticed for a few thousand years that art imitates life. So the artists who made the series are reflecting life back at us. So all I have to do is look at modern American society and wonder, "What kind of series would I write?"
I'd write one about a guy who follows all the rules and still gets fucked over. He gets advanced degrees, founds a company, tries to be a good guy and be a teacher...and still gets clusterfucked. Just as is happening today.
So what does Walter do? For one, he gets revenge. Revenge is caused by feelings of humiliation, and the vengeance is an attempt to replace humiliation with pride. The Greeks called it Hubris followed by Nemesis, and the original definition of Hubris was to humiliate someone in public.
Walter dumps the rat race and goes out on his own. And makes a lot of money. And that's just about what you have to do today: strike out on your own to be able to support yourself.
He goes from being a chump to having control and mastery over his own life. It was probably the first time in his life he felt truly alive. He is about as close to a free man as he possible today. Unfortunately, he goes from a good guy to a bad guy (notice I didn't use that cheap, facile, meaningless word "evil"). That makes it a cautionary tale, one that is jammed up your nose: humiliate people, fuck them over, prevent them from achieving justice, and some of them will become bastards, which they have to do just to survive.
All of these things are happening today in America. You can't get a decent job and support yourself and your family. You're treated like crap by the government and at work. People have fantasies or revenge. And crime is going to be worse and worse because there is so much more money in the black market instead of working honestly and having the State impoverish you and crush your balls.
TV didn't used to be like this. There is popular channel on TV known as ME-TV, and I watch it because I am fascinated by it. All those programs, all before my time, were mostly about family and community - goofy stuff like Dobie Gillis and The Munsters, not so goofy stuff like Leave It To Beaver and Andy Griffith. They were always about family and community, which is something we are way short of today. And anyone with one eye half-open knows this.
Now we have popular problems about revenge and being screwed by the government and businesses. That says a lot about society and the government - none of it good.