Saturday, December 7, 2013

Why People liked Breaking Bad

I finished the last episode of Breaking Bad last night and like everyone else I was hooked all the way through. The question is why. The premise is interesting and the writing was good but Walt held some other fascination for us. It is very simple really. It is the suspicion that there is another side to all of us that can be unleashed by circumstance. It is the good person gone bad or put another way the deck is stacked against us so why bother following the rules.

Walt was an everyman, quintessentially middle class. Loved his kids. Loved his wife. Loved family life and took on the patriarchal duty of providing for his family and leaving them with enough money they would be secure. Put that backdrop against the means justifies the end and you have the great contradiction of Breaking Bad. The antihero going bad to do good and of course going so bad they are consumed and finally destroyed.

But back to the middle class frustration end of all this. Do you remember the old Michael Douglas movie Falling Down? The premise was a mild mannered middle class guy who took a lot of crap his whole life finally loses it and goes on a killing rampage. Not so different from Walt but one big difference is that Walt keeps living the middle class American dream and uses his money to pay for his treatment, his brother in laws treatment, buy a business.

Again the absolute hilarity or irony is that Walt is always dressed in suburban casual as he becomes the ultimate bad ass Heisenberg. It is amazing to hear this guy in khakis and slip on shoes with his corny polyester blend coat ordering murders and setting up international drug operations. But that was Walt and that was us. Pushed to the point of no return with his cancer diagnosis and his situation he can only break bad over and over and we relish it as he takes revenge on those who wronged him and then goes to the dark side completely.

As Walt said in the end he did it for himself and that he loved it in a way and had never felt so alive. Who in the middle class can not help but fantasize about breaking bad and tearing apart the safe buttery world we normally operate in if just to finally say what we think. Apparently a lot of people.
Rocket Man...the American Dream gone bad

Books by William Hazelgrove