Currently Watching: Breaking Bad (Part 1)

CurrentlyWatchingBreakingBad

Just finished Season 1. Breaking Bad came highly recommended from a friend who also introduced me to Dexter, being also a fan of crime series, morally grey characters, and games of cat and mouse involving intelligence, manipulation, and deceit. I am a huge fan of morally grey characters and intelligence — that’s probably why I hated Supernatural so much. I cannot deal with stupid.

Contains no spoilers.

Breaking Bad follows the story of American high school chemistry teacher, Walter White, who is a typical middle-aged white man who does enough to get by, working two jobs (the other as a car wash cashier/car washer) and cares for his family: essentially ‘meh’ wife Skyler and compassionate son Walter Jr. who has cerebral palsy. Due to his diagnosis of lung cancer, he starts cooking methamphetamine to fund his cancer treatment and ensure his family does not rot in debt as a result of his diagnosis.

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It hits so close to home and emphasises the ridiculousness and inhumanity of the American healthcare system when people can go bankrupt or forego medical treatment just so they don’t leave their families in debt over perfectly treatable illnesses. As a healthcare professional, it’s mindblowing that this happens in one of the richest first-world countries in the world, the ‘land of the free’, when someone’s bad luck turns into eugenics. I have no judgement for Walter for being an enabler for the drug crisis, him being a victim of the for-profit healthcare system — if anything, I judge his kleptomaniac sister-in-law, allegedly also a ‘healthcare professional’, Marie more for her thefts and denial and breaking confidentiality in what Skyler tells her.

Jesse, the main support character, despite being portrayed initially as a good-for-nothing meth user and distributor, actually has a good heart, shown when he returns to his family and takes the blow for his brother despite ruining his chances forever. He has an optimistic personality, which contrasts with Walter’s more pragmatic and jaded view of the world, and isn’t afraid to call Walter out for his hypocrisy. The chemistry (no pun intended!) between the two is an unusual generational and moral one.

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The nerdy, chemistry-loving side of me is greatly enjoying Walter’s employment of his chemistry knowledge and passion. Cooking meth isn’t what I expected of a chemistry teacher, but I always wondered what they could be capable of with general household goods. I can draw quite a bit of similarity between this and Dexter and Death Note. Their contact with the ‘force of good’ allows them to avoid being caught, to great success: Walter’s brother-in-law was part of the police force and part of the drug-busting branch; Dexter worked at the LAPD lab and his dad was a police officer; Light Yagami’s dad was a police officer and he later joined L’s group to catch Kira. I’m expecting, as the series get on, Walter’s dual lives are more and more polarised and eventually he has to either withdraw from this business or sacrifice the good Walter and those around him to remain elusive (this option is more interesting).

Looking forward to more.

Have you seen Breaking Bad? How did you find it? Don’t put any spoilers in the comments, please!

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