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Breaking Bad: ‘five seasons of sin’

God, Country, Notre Dame | Monday, October 14, 2013

One of the latest crazes in popular culture has been the television show Breaking Bad.  Claims have been made that the show, which details the story of a teacher turned meth dealer to provide a secure financial future for his family while he endures the fear of an eminent death due to cancer, is the best show ever on television. Saying that Breaking Bad is the best show ever on television is a bold statement. This means Breaking Bad would have to be better than The Flintstones, The Cosby’s, Andy Griffith, The Today Show, ESPN and Jeopardy. I do not think that we the people are willing to make that leap quite yet. Even if we are willing to assert, due to ratings, that Breaking Bad is the greatest television show to ever air, we should not declare Breaking Bad as the best TV show ever. We should proclaim it as bad and better yet, as one of the worst television shows to ever air.
    For all those Breaking Bad lovers, I bet I got your attention now. I bet you wanted to read what was next, just like you couldn’t wait for the week to roll around to Sunday to watch the next episode of Walter’s murderous empire both through violence and through the increase of addictions and abuse of drugs that he has profited from. Now that I have your attention, I rescind my previous statement. Breaking Bad unfortunately is not the worst show to air on television. I do, however, propose that we step back for a moment and ponder the deeper picture of the implications and consequences of the show.
     It is easy to see how we could make an argument that Breaking Bad is a good show in the sense that it captivated a population. In reality, this argument is only a half measure. The show’s followers, representing every age range, waited eagerly for their chance to attain that high while watching that week’s episode. After just a few doses the fans where hooked, addicted to the point of dependence on the show. The show produced deep compulsion within the affected individuals to perpetually ask others, “Have you seen Breaking Bad yet? You should really watch it.” Whether due to peer-pressure, daring attitudes or forced coercion, the clean viewers were not crystal-white for much longer as they too tried the newest “thing” that everybody was doing, and they too, without wanting it or choosing it, became hopelessly enslaved to the fleeting thrills and sensation attained. The dose was taken weekly, because the supplier AMC only satisfied the demand once a week, but many people who started later in the game had the luxury of being able to binge on episodes and enjoy more highs more often. Therefore in this sense, the show is extremely good. It mesmerized us for a time and those behind the operation knew they only would have a few years and brilliantly took their product out of the market while at the top.
    If we step back and put our self-righteous American attitudes aside, it is visible that in a very different sense than previously discussed, Breaking Bad is a bad show. While Breaking Bad doesn’t appear to glorify rampant drug industry, excessively murderous violence, brief sexual innuendos and pervasive profanity, it nevertheless delivers those messages.  Consciously, we may be able to convince ourselves, “Yes, killing people involved or related to my drug typhoon to save my family is bad,” but are there deeper effects of watching such messages that affect us without our knowing? 
    Many of people have told me that regardless of the drugs, violence, sex and profanity, the story itself of Breaking Bad is moralistic and can teach us many important lessons. If we must turn to the story of a man like Walter White to find inspiration for our lives and to form the morals of our conscience, this truly shows how low our twenty-first century society in the United States has come. It is hard for me to believe that anyone became a better person in watching five seasons of sin unfold on Breaking Bad. The problem here on earth is that it can be a struggle sometimes to really discern God’s will. With every action, every word and every thought either we grow closer to God or we distance ourselves from him. In watching Breaking Bad, I cannot see how it brought anyone to a deeper love and relationship with God. Let us pray together that God will save us all from the boredoms of television.  
In other regards, let’s imagine there is great new TV show out now. Have you heard of it yet? The show is called Securing Good and it tells the story of a man named Malter Might, a high school physical education teacher who finds that his life is out of shape when he is diagnosed with severe heart disease in which the doctors give him little time to live. Malter is faced with a decision as to what to do in order to provide for his family with his looming death. Malter, a church-goer, hears from the Gospel of Luke “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!” Malter discerns that he has been called to begin a large-scale evangelization of those around him and in doing so make the world a better place for his family. It’s a great show. Why don’t we give it a chance, we might just like it and be inspired.