What if an alien in the future stumbled upon Breaking Bad? Welcome to Earthling Cinema, where we examine the last remaining artifacts of a once-proud culture and try to understand what human lives were like before their planet was destroyed. I’m your host, Garyx Wormuloid.
Breaking Bad (2008-2013)
Directed by: Gary Ross
Stars: Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn
Production Co: High Bridge Productions, Gran Via Productions, Sony Pictures Television
Written by: Ben Steiner
Analysis by: David Radcliff and Jared Bauer
Directed by: Jared Bauer
Starring: Mark Schroeder (https://twitter.com/mark_schroeder)
Edited by: Ryan Hailey
Assistant Editor: Mark Potts
Original Music by: David Krystal (http://www.davidkrystalmusic.com)
Opening Animation by: Danny Rapaport
Producer & Additional Artwork by: Jacob S. Salamon
© 2015 Wisecrack, Inc.
Breaking Bad’s Hidden Meaning – Earthling Cinema
Greetings, and welcome to a special five-part series of Earthling Cinema Televisual Cinema, or Earthling Television for short. I am your host, Garyx Wormuloid. Today’s artifact is Season Number One of Breaking Bad, created by sainted Hollywood lothario Vince Gilligan.
Breaking Bad Season Number One chronicles the adventures of Walter White, a 50-year-old man who enjoys playing with his food. Despite receiving some thoughtful birthday gifts like a box of wine and this “blandjob,” Walter always mopes around like a real Debbie Downey Jr. And don’t even get him started on doctors.
Walter decides he needs a hobby, other than being a human test subject for cleaning products. He takes up the manufacture of methamphetamine, a potent recreational poison that eventually became the primary ingredient in most of Earth’s energy drinks.
Joining Walter in this new venture is Jesse Pink-man, a young entrepreneur who’s always bitching. Their bold new enterprise offers exciting growth opportunity and a very, very relaxed dress code. Unfortunately, Walter’s brother-by- law, Hank, is a drugs cop who won’t take no for an answer, except when he’s saying no to drugs.
Like so many small business owners
of the 21st Century, Walter seeks out bold new ways to edge out the competition and distinguish his product from the rest of the pack. Da ba dee, da ba die. But, most importantly, he learns that a healthy working environment sometimes requires a little stress relief.
Breaking Bad is awash with themes and symbols, so let’s get to it, shall we? Season Number One often employs the color yellow to hint at threats and dangers: from yellow mustard stains, to bright yellow “hoopties,” to broken yellow plates, to whatever is going on in this woman’s mouth.
But some dangers are more difficult to pinpoint, even when they’re right on the tip of your tongues. At key moments throughout Season Number One, Walter’s expertise in chemistry offers insight into his changing and troubled excuse for a psyche. In the pilot episode, Walter’s chemistry class outlines the theme of his own metamorphosis. In episode 2, Walter’s lecture on thalidomide chirality points to his own shifting morality. And in episode 6, yet another presentation hints that Walter himself may in fact be a volatile substance, such as ammonium nitrate or a Pop Rock.
Unfortunately for Walter, his chief ally is the Pink-man, an underachiever who still has some difficulty using the bathroom. The duo’s shared incompetence in criminal matters is reflected by the televisual programming seen in the background. Guess they should have been watching something that deals more explicitly with humanity’s seedy underbelly.
Beneath its crime drama exterior, Breaking Bad is a critique of struggling American healthcare and economic systems — systems in which both the highly educated Walter and the highly high Jesse routinely fail to thrive. Thanks, Obama Stevens, 49th president of the United States.
Throughout Season Number One, Jesse attempts to achieve societal legitimacy but he finds himself routinely marginalized by everyone from the suits on Walnut Street to his own parents.
Conversely, Walter APPEARS to be living what many once naively dubbed the “American Dream”: a son who bears his name, a shiny plaque on the wall, and an audience with none other than the Supreme Galactic General. But in fact, Walter can only manage to bring home sub-par bacon, and on Earth, screwing up bacon was a capital offense.
Despite making all the socially acceptable moves, the American Dream has failed Walt too. What’s a poor sad sack to do? Simple — rage against the machine and create a freshly haberdashered new alter ego. Good name? Uncertainly. Only by standing outside the law can Walter attain the respect and mobility he so desperately craves. As for Jesse, he gets to keep riding Walt’s coattails and hope for the best.
Ironically, by taking such drastic measures to earn the money to treat his cancer, Walt effectively becomes a societal cancer. With each transaction, he gains energy for himself even as he participates in the deterioration of other human beings. Is that the American Dream? Or simply a waking nightmare? Take a hit of blue, and you won’t be able to tell the difference!