Somebody I know won’t watch BREAKING BAD. Grr.

2921662-477bd_men_hairstyle_walter_white_facialhairI love quality storytelling–whether it’s the written word, a play, or even a piece of music. That’s why I, like so many others, absolutely adored BREAKING BAD. If you haven’t seen it, I won’t get into the details of the story, other than to say it’s about a high school chemistry teacher diagnosed with terminal lung cancer who decides to start cooking meth to provide for his family after he’s dead.

Morally ambiguous, to say the least.

It neither endorses nor condemns the main character’s choices (or anyone else’s, really). It merely presents them in a context that helps the viewer understand how people become monsters in other people’s eyes. It never calls them monsters. Or angels. And really, it never needs to.

Now that I’m thinking about it, I can’t really recall speaking with anyone who has watched more than a tiniest bit of the show and not liked it, so I recommended it to somebody I know who is a story and movie buff.

He told me that he had no interest in watching BREAKING BAD because, in his words, it “encourages criminal behavior”. I asked him how he could enjoy movies in which the main characters are criminals, like THE GODFATHER, BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID, or even THE BLUES BROTHERS and his response was the “hear no evil” monkey:

1-hear-no-evil-amber-snead

I asked him if he was worried that watching BREAKING BAD would make him want to be a drug kingpin, and he said no, but added “that kind of show doesn’t belong on TV,” which got me wondering–what responsibility does fiction have to create role models?

What would Charles Barkley have to say about that?

The kicker of it is, this person who refuses to watch BREAKING BAD also endorses my book, LOSING TOUCH, which is about another man having a mid-life crisis who does some highly questionable things when he finds out he can walk through walls.

So, in summary … what the what?

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2 Responses to “Somebody I know won’t watch BREAKING BAD. Grr.”

  1. Breaking Bad, from beginning to end, was an absolutely brilliant series, and I’ve actually heard the exact same ridiculous “reasoning” from other people who refuse to watch it. I suppose that many people are sensitive when it comes to the topic of meth, drug dealing and so on, but really, all it would take is watching one episode to get past the notion that the series is in any way endorsing Walter White’s reprehensible behavior.

    If anything, I think that while Breaking Bad does make us UNDERSTAND why someone might transform into a “Heisenberg,” it also makes an incredibly strong case on why trying to build a drug empire on the suffering of others is a terrible, terrible idea. Even though it’s intense, gritty and sometimes horrifying, Breaking Bad has a very moral message at its core.

    • Exactly. A show can be about something and not endorse it. It can even make you care about bad people and not endorse it. Maybe only the BEST shows do that.

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