Breaking Bad (season 1)
Breaking Bad (season 1) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How un-American is Breaking Bad, yo!

Sorry, couldn’t resist it. If you haven’t seen it yet then you need to go watch it. I’m catching up on it via Netflix and so far I’ve made it through series 2. Unlike most US TV shows it has short series (five series muster 67 episodes in total). There are a number of other ways, all of them good, that make it stand out:

* the protagonist is bad;
* it is the dark underbelly;
* it shows US society as fundamentally broken;
* viewers need intelligence to get it;
* you need to actively watch it;
* loads of geek humour & science.

A Good Man Gone Bad

Dr Walter White is a way overqualified chemistry teacher in an Albuquerque High School. In the opening scenes we see that he was part of a team that produced a Nobel Prize winner. Later we find that his research partner has struck it rich, and that Walt should have been part of that spin-off tech startup. This is all background, but Walt gets diagnosed with lung cancer, which he does his best to hide from people for as long as he can. The hiding is the first step on a path from deception to criminality.

If you’ve somehow missed it Breaking Bad is the story of a brilliant chemistry teacher diagnosed with cancer. His health insurance won’t cover the treatment and he turns to making crystal meth to make enough money to keep his family after he dies. Right from the premise you get “only in America”, although in this case there isn’t the pride you usually find when people (Americans) say that. Almost every other country in the world would have treated the cancer free, or at least had it covered by default on health insurance without a massive co-pay.

As you might expect Walt’s path isn’t straightforward. There are many twists and turns, not to mention the obstacles.

Anyway I’m still working my way through it, no doubt I’ll write more about it later.