Tuesday, June 30, 2009

On "Breaking Bad"

I just finished watching the second season of "Breaking Bad." My question is, did the creators of this show know how dark they would get, or did they let it happen? This show is a stunningly bleak picture of methamphetamine abuse from the point-of-view of a "good" man who produces it. This good man is responsible for much bad. And even as he (mostly) remains the character with whom the viewer most wants to spend time, one can't help but also root for his (mostly irritating) wife and hope the cops nail his ass. This show is insidiously disturbing.

I hope there's a third season. One theme I hope the creators continue to make more explicit is how this "good" man's pathological aversion to accepting "charity" makes him proud of selling meth; that is, how our very American obsession with success and 'hard work' make hard work more important than good work. Making this ever-more explicit is the job of Act III, the probable denouement of the series. If it were hammered home any earlier, it would have been hectoring.

"Breaking Bad" is a smart, smart piece of entertaining and serious dramatic art. This is the kind of work I'd like to do in both theater and film/t.v.

UPDATE: I also like that Bryan Cranston and Vince Gilligan appear to think of Walt as having a kind of multiple personality disorder. But, one that is not obvious, and doesn't involve a complete separation between Walt's two selves. For some years now, I've felt in myself--and seen in others--that we are all 'multiple personalities' in whom the division between selves lies on a spectrum of fused-completely separate. No one is a purely fused unity (probably, though Obama makes me wonder). Few are actually hearing voices from 'outside.' But, we're all negotiating among internal selves all the time. This may not be news to you (or you, or you), but the simple things turn me (us) on.

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