Week 2: Regan Radotich

Undeniably, we are living in the new golden age of television. Many channels are producing a large number of high-budget, high-quality shows with deep plotlines and characters. Television shows are more popular than ever, thanks in part to online streaming services such as Netflix, which allow a much larger number of people to access these shows.  Of all of these insanely popular shows, one has risen above the rest to become one of the greatest pieces of filmmaking of all time: Breaking Bad.

As it is likely that not everyone here has seen the show (or is currently watching it), I’ll try to keep this as spoiler-free as possible.

Breaking Bad is absolutely riveting from the very first scene. We see an RV tearing through the desert being driven by a man wearing only underwear and a gas mask. An unconscious person is slumped over in the seat next to him, and as the vehicle careens around corners, we can see what appears to be two dead bodies sliding around in the back. The RV runs off the road and crashes into a large boulder. The barely-clothed man stumbles out of the RV, puts on a shirt, and picks up a gun. He uses a video camera to record a farewell to his family, then walks back up onto the road and points the gun into the distance as we hear the sound of sirens in the distance drawing closer. Immediately, questions spring to mind, such as, “What the hell happened before this?’ and more importantly, “Why is there a guy in tighty-whities standing out in the desert with a gun?’ The show’s theme plays, then it flashes back to three weeks before those events so we can learn the whole story.

Breaking Bad tells the story of a mild-mannered high school chemistry teacher named Walter White. He lives a relatively normal life with his pregnant wife, Skyler, and his high-school-aged son with cerebral palsy, Walter Jr. In order to make ends meet, Walter works a second job at a car wash. During his shift one day, Walter suddenly collapses and falls unconscious. He is rushed to the hospital, where a discovery is made that will change Walter’s life forever: he has inoperable lung cancer.

Simply put, Walter doesn’t make enough money to pay for chemotherapy, and his family will be flat broke after he dies.

However, after going on a ride-along to a meth bust with his brother-in-law, Hank, who works for the DEA, he learns just how much money meth cooks make. He also sees Jesse, a former student of his fleeing the scene.

With no other options, Walter grudgingly drives to Jesse’s house to proposition him to be business partners, as Walter knows the chemistry behind methamphetamine and Jesse understands the drug trade. They buy an old RV and drive out into the New Mexico desert to cook  their first batch of meth. As it turns out, due to his background in chemistry, Walter cooks purer, more potent meth than anyone else, and it quickly becomes a hotly demanded product. That’s where the adventure really begins begins.

Now, many people claim, “Oh, that’s so terrible! It’s just a show about meth!’

The truth is, it’s so much more than that. Breaking Bad teaches some very valuable lessons. While Walter started off with good intentions, the things he does completely change him into a different person. At first, he did terrible things for the good of his family, but as the show progresses, it becomes obvious that he does them simply because he enjoys them. In his quest to save his life, he ultimately ends up destroying it, thus proving that the ends don’t justify the means.