What's the problem with 'Breaking Bad'? Rooting for the bad guy

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  • Gracie Boise, ID
    Oct. 12, 2013 10:41 p.m.

    "In C&P, the protagonist, Raskolnikov, kills an old lady, a pawnbroker, with an axe, and then spends the rest of the book evading the law. The trouble is, at the moment he kills her, you're on his side. You completely understand why he's doing it and you feel he's justified."

    I didn't make that distinction. I was horrified that Raskolnikov killed the woman, especially as horribly as he did it. She was a nasty business woman but he chose to deal with her. He was a total mess by that time. Some things we just can't allow ourselves to do no matter what, not with impunity. We change humanity for bestiality by making those kinds of choices. This sick and starving student needed the redemption offered to him although he first didn't want it. That he worked it out and that a woman loved him through it is a powerful morality play illustrating the reason why we came to earth in the first place.

  • Al Thepal Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 12, 2013 11:00 a.m.

    I have not watched all of the show (at least not yet) but in the episodes I have watched, I have not rooted for Walt in his evil doings. I do not think that this is the point of the show either. I actually think it actually teaches a number of lessons. For example, the ends do not justify the means. I think Walt started out with relatively good intentions (ie providing for his family after he is gone), but he went down a bad path and of course soon he was doing it for himself. Another lesson is that there is a slippery slope in some of the decisions we make. Walt started out as a fairly normal guy, and ended up very evil. I do not enjoy some of the content of the show, which is why I may not finish it. But I know at least the basics of how it ends. And based on how it ends, it does not glorify or even justify Walt's behavior. Walt is not presented as someone to emulate or even cheer for.

  • Martin Blank Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 12, 2013 10:37 a.m.

    While this was an interesting take on the show, I think it's best to compare it to another "difficult" work of literature, Dostoevsky's "Crime and Punishment." Spoiler alert: In C&P, the protagonist, Raskolnikov, kills an old lady, a pawnbroker, with an axe, and then spends the rest of the book evading the law. The trouble is, at the moment he kills her, you're on his side. You completely understand why he's doing it and you feel he's justified. Like BB, you spend the rest of the book trying to understand why you might have felt that way. Great literature (and yes, I'm including BB in that) gets you to examine yourself in a way that didactic, feel-good literature doesn't. Am I, as a human here on earth, capable of what Walter White or Raskolnikov did? Yes. Does that make me a bad person? Only if I do go out and commit those crimes. What keeps me from doing that? The answer to that last question is what separates truly good people from true evil. And that's what makes shows like BB or novels like C&P worth watching or reading.

  • liahona Westbank, BC
    Oct. 12, 2013 10:31 a.m.

    I tried watching the first episode, and it was like watching stupid in stereo, and you can't fix stupid!

  • JasonH84 Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 12, 2013 9:59 a.m.

    Interesting that those who watched the series through to the end and commented here all refute the author's and other commenters' issues with the glorification (or rooting, or admiration) of the anti-hero Walt in Breaking Bad. If you're uncomfortable with the content of the show, that's your deal (and it's understandable), but don't comment, let alone write a newspaper column, about how the series encourages, "rooting for the bad guy." You put the book down without finishing it and have taken Walt out of context. You simply have to watch the whole series. Unlike traditional TV series, Breaking Bad tells a whole story from beginning to end. It is not a series of "episodes" during which the protagonist deals with some recurring dilemma (see Sopranos, Walking Dead, Seinfeld). It's more a very long "mini-series" with a conclusion. And that conclusion is a big part of the brilliance of Breaking Bad; it was consistent in demonstrating that wrong acts/decisions lead to increasingly difficult dilemmas, and that in the end there is nothing but sorrow and tragedy for those who choose that path. What is wrong with that message?

  • B_Stein NYC, NY
    Oct. 12, 2013 9:49 a.m.

    One would be missing out on 80% of great cinema if one was to be offended by nefarious subject matter. The question becomes, where does one draw the line? Boycott 'The Great Train Robbery' because it deals with bandits/crime? Citizen Kane since it deals with a flawed and abusive character? 'The Godfather' or 'The Sopranos' since they deal with mafiosi?

    In any case, my reaction to Walter White was if anything, pity, if not outright hatred. I did not consider him to be any type of "hero" whatsoever. In fact, I was actively wishing for his death and his downfall, which inevitably occurred.

  • bigv56 Cottonwood, CA
    Oct. 12, 2013 9:24 a.m.

    All these "anti heroes" who are popular in culture , Yony Soprano, Walter. White, biker thugs, drug kingpins etc are romanticized by filmmaker s and tv producers. Audiences for some reason think they are cool. In real life they are vicious, greedy, larceneous and murderous. Find better people to admire.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    Oct. 12, 2013 9:03 a.m.

    I'm not normally a TV series fan, but it's easy to see how Breaking Bad racked up so many awards.

    The genius is in the complexity of the characters, and how even though they descend into a ruthless meth world, the primary characters have positive, admirable characteristics, but find themselves increasingly having to resort to things they would have never imagined doing.

    Everyone has imperfections, and we struggle in life, trying to do good, but it's quite possible to get involved in situations we would never have originally chosen, or didn't intend to get into. This is the case in our jobs, in our marriages, even in things that aren't in the same league with making and distributing meth, such as gossiping about others, taking shortcuts in business to help your employees keep their jobs, etc.

    Yes, there are consequences to actions, but the individuals involved almost always have positive attributes and intentions. Making meth to create a nest egg for your family when you're dead from a likely fatal cancer diagnosis is a major choice, in a major dilemma, but we all deal with smaller dilemmas in life.

  • Just an Observer Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 12, 2013 8:51 a.m.

    For those readers here who are LDS, I feel like we can do a lot worse than to apply the ideas of the 13th Article of Faith to filter whatever it is that many might recommend to us. For me and my wife, that meant many years ago stopping watching Seinfeld--the final straw was the "Master of My Domain" episode--and Friends although they were the hit shows that *everybody*, including LDS, talked about. More recently, we made the rare decision to try another show in AMC's Mad Men, only to stop a few episodes into it because of the content that wasn't "virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy". I completely agree with "Mom of 8": We have far better things to do with our time.

  • Cougsndawgs West Point , UT
    Oct. 12, 2013 8:48 a.m.

    I became an avid fan of breaking bad because it develops it's characters better than any other tv show I've watched. It's true that you cheer for Walter White in the beginning, but as he continues to excuse his escalation in violence and vengeance in the name of "it had to be done" you begin feeling sorry for him, and becoming angered by the choices he makes. I think this is an apt reflection of sin and how it leads us slowly down a road we never would have traveled without introduction to the source of our sin. It also shows how pride can start as a small issue and balloon into a full-fledged cancer, pun intended, when it goes unchecked. I don't think this show is for everyone, but for me it definitely promoted introspection and thought about my own moral shortcomings and mortal nature. It definitely left me with the catharsis that tragedies like Shakespeare engender. I appreciate it for that.

  • Lightening Lad Austin , TX
    Oct. 12, 2013 2:29 a.m.

    A spoiler alert might be a thoughtful addition to Mr Know-It-All's need to regurgitatet every last detail. You're great Sport now go back to the basement and maybe mom will make you a nice grilled cheese.

  • Mainly Me Werribee, 00
    Oct. 12, 2013 2:17 a.m.

    "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!"

  • Mom of 8 Hyrum, UT
    Oct. 11, 2013 8:31 p.m.

    I totally agree, so thank you for making me not feel alone. I tried to watch an episode, read updates about the show whenever I heard yet more praise thrown upon it, but found none of the show worthwhile or redeeming.
    There's enough ugly in the world; I don't need to witness more of it. Sure, there may be clever writing and plot twists, but that's no reason to let myself acclimate to such baseness. My time's too precious.

    Oct. 11, 2013 12:55 p.m.

    For me watching "Breaking Bad" was just like watching a slow motion train wreck. I did enjoy watching Walter get the better of the 'punk villains' even as Walter morphed into one of them.

    This is similar to the path most people take down the dark side, with small things at first which don't seem so bad and then, as they get used to the small things, bigger and bigger bad choices. Each small step down the path doesn't seem so bad, but in aggregate, the change from beginning to end is huge!

  • nonceleb Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 11, 2013 11:38 a.m.

    I guess everyone is different in their moral framework. I did not find myself "rooting" for any of the bad characters in "Breaking Bad." And it stayed true to its fans by NOT saving Walter White. And we knew that doing this "for the family" was really bull and he finally admitted that in the last episode. The only character I was pleased to see escape was Jessie. There was hope for him to rehab and lead a decent life. If there was anything disappointing to me is that it brought out my own sinister desires to see bloody vengeance on the evil characters. I got some satisfaction that the two most despicable characters to me, Todd and Lydia, escaped a quick demise and both suffered prolonged, painful deaths. That shows a flaw in my humanity. I wish I did not have those types of avenging desires.