Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Breaking Bad Habits

The main cast of Breaking Bad
For years, unswayed by the unanimous rave reviews I heard continually, I had refused to watch the hit television show Breaking Bad. I was sure the show's premise--a terminally ill chemistry teacher decides to cook meth to provide financially for his family after his death--was a glorification of the drug culture.

After years of resistance and ceaseless prompts to "give it a try," I decided to watch the first episode about two months ago. Then I watched the second episode immediately after. And, like your basic meth addict, I was hooked.

Far from glorifying drug use, Breaking Bad depicts the terrible human cost and consequences of such harmful activities--often with spectacularly graphic brutality. The acting is solid, the characters grow and change as the seasons progress, and the plot continuously twists and turns in remarkably clever ways. It's a top notch show, worthy of the many awards it has won.

With all of the TV series I have invested myself in over the years, none has inspired the obsessiveness with which I viewed Breaking Bad. Not 24, with all Jack Bauer's save-the-world, cliffhanging activities. For all their evil villains, not House of Cards, nor Rome, nor Game of Thrones could compel me to watch multiple episodes during the week. With these other shows, all excellent and suspenseful, I was content to wait for Friday and Saturday nights. But Breaking Bad had me losing sleep on "school nights." Then, when the weekend did arrive, I viewed back-to-back episodes until I was pinwheel-eyed over my bowl of chips and glass of wine. Streaming Netflix, incredulous that someone might still be in front of my television set, would occasionally query via a pop-up window "Are you still watching Breaking Bad?" I would click viciously on the remote, "YES"--and let's please get on with Season 3, Episode 10, shall we?

To paraphrase the first step in the Alcoholics Anonymous Twelve Step Program, I have to admit I was powerless over Breaking Bad, that my life had become unmanageable. I finished watching the Season 5 series finale last night. That's 62 episodes in two months. I thank my Higher Power that it's over.

I think I'll try Mad Men next.