Word On Fire Research Assistant, Jack Thornton, discusses "Breaking Bad," one of the most popular dramas on television, and what it can tell us about the nature of Sin.
A few weeks ago, the last episode of the first half of the final season of AMC’s hit drama, “Breaking Bad,” aired to much anticipation. In spite of the confusing sentence you just read, many viewers watched the episode eagerly and then discussed it with their friends. Over the last few years the show has driven fans and critics wild with enthusiasm, and it is now midway through its final chapter, which will finish next year.
I’ll try and talk about the show without giving away anything specific in case those of you who haven’t seen it want to check it out. Here’s the basic premise.
Walter White, a mild-mannered high school chemistry teacher, discovers that he has terminal lung cancer and does not have much time left on this earth. Facing an imminent death, expensive treatment and the thought of leaving a financially struggling family with even more debt and no one to provide for them, he decides to use his impressive chemistry skills to cook crystal meth, a highly dangerous, addictive and illegal drug. He teams up with a dead-beat ex-student who was already making and peddling meth, and together they cook and distribute the drug to the greater Albuquerque area. As each season progresses Walter gets more and more involved in the drug world, and everything that goes along with it.
I know this seems like a really bleak concept, and it is indeed a very dark, gritty show, but it is also extremely entertaining, well written, brilliantly acted and critically acclaimed. So far it has won 26 television awards, including six Emmys, three of which have gone to actor Bryon Cranston for his role as Walter White. It is was nominated for 13 more awards in last night’s Emmys including Outstanding Drama Series and nods to five of the show’s actors.
But, like all good art, the show does not just entertain. It also expresses something true within its fictional world; it is, in great part, an examination of sin and its effects, especially the sin of pride...