Breaking Bad Ends, Meth Mystique Lives On
The show wasn’t responsible for our country’s meth epidemic, but did it – even inadvertently -- manage to somehow make the drug look cool?
In case you’ve been living under a rock lately, the AMC series Breaking Bad ended last Sunday night, after five seasons and 62 episodes. And the finale seemed to be a resounding success. A Today show online survey found 96 percent of fans rating the episode “good” or “perfect.” The series ender even inspired Twitter shout outs from a variety of celebs. Jimmy Fallon, Anderson Cooper, Brooke Shields, Octavia Spencer and Glee’s Darren Criss were just a few of BB’s famous fans to weigh in.
For those not in the know, the critically-acclaimed drama followed good-guy-turned-bad Walter White, played by Bryan Cranston. When this struggling high school chemistry teacher is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer at the beginning of the series, he turns to a life of crime, producing and selling methamphetamine to provide some financial security for his family. Working alongside him in his makeshift meth lab is a former student, played by Aaron Paul in a star-making role.
Considered one of the greatest TV dramas of all time, why would anyone have a bad word to say about the Emmy-winning drama?
Well, some might see it as glorifying meth – or at least drawing attention to the drug. A lookalike blue candy has been handed out by the cast at public appearances and entrepreneurial fans got in on the act, too, manufacturing and selling their own Breaking Bad candy. The show even inspired a Saturday Night Live parody in the 2013 season opener.
Others would argue its all in good fun, and no one could make a case that Breaking Bad is responsible for this country’s meth epidemic. The problem existed long before the show’s premiere. It’s more a case of art mimicking life. But some of the details on the show may have been a bit too realistic, especially when it comes to the meth-making process. I mean, when Miley Cyrus calls you out in Rolling Stone, there may be a problem.
“America is just so weird in what they think is right and wrong,” Cyrus told the music mag. “Like, I was watching Breaking Bad the other day, and they were cooking meth,” she starts. “I could literally cook meth because of that show. It’s a how-to. And then they bleeped out the word ‘f***.’ And I’m like, really? They killed a guy, and disintegrated his body in acid, but you’re not allowed to say ‘f***’?”
It certainly raises some interesting issues. Do graphic portrayals of drug use on TV or in film contribute to this country’s drug problem? Are these shows all about entertainment or do they have a responsibility to audiences to shield them from depictions of drug use? And can these programs serve as a cautionary tale, deterring drug use in some cases?
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