Tuesday, August 26

"Breaking Bad" star of Emmys: What's that all about?

Disclaimer: I've never watched Breaking Bad. The show's premise was a complete turn-off for me: chemistry teacher learns he has inoperable cancer and decides to make the best possible meth to provide for his family. What can go wrong with that?

I know some people see this as a "morality show" akin to The Sopranos. Whatever. That's bogus rationalization to me.

Just reading the episode summaries tells me this guy Walter, who became some sort of cult hero, is making bad decision after bad decision. Okay, maybe it was good acting, but the message of the show? Seriously?? And all of these accolades from celebrities, many of whom are about to do this big televised event for Stand Up To Cancer.

Here's what's horrible to me about the Breaking Bad premise and why I never watched the show:

First, classroom teacher decides to make meth to provide for his family.
Messages: 1) Kids, just because I say drugs are bad doesn't mean I really believe drugs are bad. After all, 2) now I'm hooking up with known bad guys, drug lords, to distribute drugs to your friends. And 3) some of your friends or other kids we don't even know might die because of these amazing drugs I make with 4) one of my former students who I should have discouraged from making meth but instead decided to make a partner.

Okay, that's pretty much it. Sure, I get the guy is supposed to be desperate and the show is probably supposed to be about the consequences of his really bad decisions. So here's my other fear: some people will see that Bryan Cranston and others are getting awards for this show and won't differentiate that he's getting rewarded for his acting, for his portrayal of this character. It's entirely possible that more than a few goofballs will think he's getting rewarded for the behavior of the character and then use this show as a blueprint for being successful in making meth.

I read in Wikipedia how the show ended:
Skyler and Walter Jr. are distraught over Hank's death and hold Walter accountable. They refuse to leave Albuquerque with Walter and instead contact the police. Walter spends the next several months hiding in a cabin in New Hampshire while struggling with cancer. He returns to New Mexico in order to visit his family one final time and seek revenge against Jack. Later that night, Walter executes all of the gang's members and frees Jesse, who escapes from the compound before the police arrive. Walter realizes he is mortally wounded from a gunshot and slowly succumbs to his injury as the police search the compound.
So Walter, the former chemistry teacher, isn't ever really held accountable. He becomes a completely sympathetic character because he rescues his friend and, apparently, he cannot help that he continues to sink into this morass of questionable behavior and terrible decisions.

A review of the second season of this show:
The second season saw critical acclaim. Entertainment Weekly critic Ken Tucker stated "Bad is a superlatively fresh metaphor for a middle-age crisis: It took cancer and lawbreaking to jolt Walt out of his suburban stupor, to experience life again—to take chances, risk danger, do things he didn't think himself capable of doing. None of this would work, of course, without Emmy winner Cranston's ferocious, funny selflessness as an actor. For all its bleakness and darkness, there's a glowing exhilaration about this series: It's a feel-good show about feeling really bad.
Unbelievable. These are the options for the "suburban stupor"? Making meth and being responsible for contributing to the on-going drug problem of America's youth (and probably others) is a good way to "take chances, risk danger, do things he didn't think himself capable of doing"? Like murder. Nice. What about bungy jumping? Sky diving? What absurd world do entertainment critics live in? And don't get me started on the condescension expressed in the phrase "suburban stupor." Who do you think goes to the movies and watches your TV shows, you nincompoop. Mostly those people in their suburban stupors, which also says something about those of us who live in the suburbs. We spend too much time in a stupor and watch TV. Careful now.

The chapter after the story ends: Skyler and Walter, Jr. are left with nothing because that remaining $11 million dollars Walter thought he had is going to be confiscated by law enforcement officers because it is drug money and possibly evidence in other cases. They have to leave Albuquerque and change their names because otherwise they're always going to be known as the former wife and kid of that chemistry teacher who murdered people, partnered with drug lords, and helped more kids get addicted to meth. Great legacy. Great way to "provide for your family."

Maybe the acting was great and worth celebrating, but the message of this show--and far too many others--just demonstrates the paltry sense of consequences, especially unintended consequence, our society has managed to grasp.

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