The AMC television series “Breaking Bad” was the big winner at the Emmy Awards Monday night, taking outstanding writing, picture editing, supporting actor, supporting actress, lead actor and drama series awards.
Those who have seen the show understand why its highly acclaimed and respected, and those who have not are (more than likely) missing out on a dramatic treasure. It’s not for the faint of heart, however, and I wouldn’t recommend it to children nor great-grandparents.
On paper, the show is certainly disturbing and rather reprehensible. It’s a series about an ordinary, mild-tempered, 50-year-old high school chemistry teacher and family man, Walter White, who is diagnosed with lung cancer, and in the midst of sudden emotional desperation, a brief series of events lead him to a criminal business proposition.
Walt offers his chemistry expertise and partnership to a former student, Jesse Pinkman, who knows the streets, making a pure methamphetamine and profitable product in order to ensure financial security for his family as he faces a looming inevitable death. And that’s just the first episode.
What’s strange is how convincing and intriguing the show was and how, despite the awful, inhumane and uncharacteristic actions of Walt, empathy and trust in his good intentions remained while his morals slowly diminish like a fuel-gage running out of gas.
Walt goes from good to bad fairly quickly, yet you’re left wondering what dangerous drug-dealing problem will occur next, or how he’ll get out of the situation. He’s still likable, at least for awhile.
It’s not all about Walt though, that’s the interesting part. There’s the naive, idiotic student, Jesse; the caring, angry wife, Skyler; the reasoning, teenage son Walt Jr.; the macho, DEA agent brother-in-law Hank and the overreacting, supportive sister-in-law Marie. They all have depth, and as a viewer, you can’t wait to see how they’ll react if they ever find out Walt’s secret.
Despite the show’s heavy dose of immoral action and unseen violence, “Breaking Bad” convinced millions of people to watch, glued to their seats and kept them coming back for more.
It took me one episode, and I was addicted. In fact, I didn’t do much else besides go to work and watch all four seasons for about two weeks in June because I couldn’t wait to see what happened next.
The science was fascinating, the scenery beautiful, the writing gave you chills, it was surprising you when you least expected it, and the suspense was supreme.
There are things to learn from Walt besides that drugs will destroy your life.
1. Being honest is important. Walt ruins wonderful loving relationships by lying only in an effort to save himself and his reputation.
2. Looks can be deceiving. Nobody suspected that the biggest drug provider out of New Mexico was right under there noses. Walt looked typical, but the world he was living in wasn’t.
3. Family is to be treasured. Although Walt became unrecognizable, his original purpose was to provide for his family. The entire show is rooted in the importance of family, at least the importance of not losing them.
4. Be irreplaceable. The reason Walt stayed safe at times in dangerous situations was because he was irreplaceable. He had something they didn’t - knowledge, instinct and fearlessness.
Something new and progressive will come along and eventually the hue of Breaking Bad will fad like the ones that came before.
Maybe that’s the greatest lesson we can learn from Breaking Bad — that time is fleeting, that money isn’t everything and that it’s better to be great for awhile than to have never been great at all.