Compelling Stories

Recently my boyfriend and I were flipping through Netflix, looking for a new show to enjoy when we landed on Breaking Bad. I didn’t know anything about it except that it shows up on my daily t-shirt sites and it seems to be having a successful career on cable. So we figured, why not give it a go?

Here’s the blurb from Wikipedia

Breaking Bad is an American television drama series created and produced by Vince Gilligan. Set and produced in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Breaking Bad is the story of Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a struggling high school chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer at the beginning of the series. He turns to a life of crime, producing and selling methamphetamine with a former student, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), with the aim of securing his family’s financial future before he dies.

I didn’t know what to expect, not really. Some drugs, some violence, that’s about it.

What you get is a character, Walt, who has very good reasons for doing a very bad thing. I felt for him in season one, I sympathized with his decisions even if I didn’t agree with them. I never really liked Walt.

You also get a street-wise partner in the character of Jesse. In the first season I kind of wanted to smack Jesse around, but into season two I warmed up to him. Does he make good decisions? No, he’s a drug dealer. His life is a string of bad and awful decisions.

The cast of supporting characters, family, friends and accidentals is varied. There’s the DEA brother-in-law, a sister-in-law who is a compulsive thief, the 40 and pregnant wife, the disabled son, the worried parents, the gifted younger brother, the old girlfriend who married your best friend, the new girlfriend, crazy drug lords. You have to admit that it’s all very fascinating.

Another element is the drugs and science. Because Walt is a chemist by trade he can do a lot of things that the average meth cook can’t. A few weeks ago as part of my Citizen’s Police Academy course, a drug task force and DEA officer came in and talked to us. His presentation on narcotics was disturbing. He also talked to me for a bit about the show and verified that the science of it all is spot on and well done. It was entertaining, to say the least.

There’s some really great story telling that goes on through this series. There’s always a bump in the road that means Walt and Jesse need to do one more deal, cook more meth or something. The story really hooks you because you want to know what happens!

Here’s the kicker.

In season two or three, I realized something.

I dislike all of the characters, with the exception of Walt’s son.

Now I’m wondering how I sat through so many back-to-back episodes of this show when I felt little to no sympathy for the main characters. Really!

I think this is an excellent example that goes to show that sometimes you can write a great story, with characters no one likes, and still succeed.

And that’s my profound thought for this week.

Sidney Sig

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