The Christian case for watching ‘Breaking Bad’

Published: Wednesday, July 3 2013 8:30 a.m. MDT

Jesse Pinkman, played by Aaron Paul, right, faces off with powerful drug lord Tuco, played by Raymond Cruz, left, as Walt White, played by Bryan Cranston, looks on in a scene from the AMC original series, "Breaking Bad."

AMC, Associated Press

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“Breaking Bad” is the acclaimed TV drama on cable channel AMC about a high school chemistry teacher who started making methamphetamine only after receiving a diagnosis of life-threatening cancer.

But 67 episodes into “Breaking Bad,” that original plotline is now a distant memory because the protagonist, Walter White, has steadily devolved from endearing family man to narcissistic drug kingpin. Suffice it to say, the dark storylines of “Breaking Bad” make the show nobody’s idea of family-friendly programming. (Common Sense Media, for example, says “Breaking Bad” is unsuitable for viewers under the age of 17.)

On Aug. 11, “Breaking Bad” returns to AMC for its final eight episodes. In anticipation of the show’s forthcoming finale, diverse media outlets are beginning to conjure articles that seek to give some context to the meteoric rise and sustained popularity of “Breaking Bad.” In that vein, Christianity Today published an essay Tuesday by Jackson Cuidon titled “Why we need Breaking Bad.”

Cuidon delivered a bold, counterintuitive argument: “Breaking Bad” is must-see TV for Christian audiences because it breaks rank from the vast majority of scripted television shows that insidiously bombard audiences with soft whispers suggesting “what we do only matters when we choose to make it mean something.”

Cuidon continued, “I think 'Breaking Bad' is a great show because it rejects this line of thinking, because its running time is a five-season rebuttal to the idea that there are choices that matter and choices that don't. … Walter is us. And that is a dangerous message, and it hurts. It hurts to be awakened to choices you didn't know you were failing to make, or making poorly ….

“It inoculates you against the idea that you don't matter, or that you're not responsible for your choices. And after you watch (‘Breaking Bad’), when broadcast TV tries to sell you on your own powerlessness, you can feel it ring false in your mind. Because once you're conditioned to recognize your own choice, recognize that we as humans have choices, well, it's hard to go back. And you owe yourself a shot.”

EMAIL: jaskar@desnews.com

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