Being basically a contrarian I have a tendency to take the opposite way to what I am recommended: when somebody tells me to read a book or watch a production these end up almost automatically in my black book.
This was happening even with the TV show Breaking Bad, indicated by many friends as amazing. My stubbornness was eventually defeated by the state of unemployment in which I found myself a few months ago: I started watching a few episodes to cover some of the endless amount of disquieting time I had, just to emphasize how stupid those who prefer a subsidy to work are.
The deadly combination of 2 elements such as my tendency to laziness and the suspense of the series led me to devour the available episodes on the web, waiting impatiently for a semester to watch the 8 final episodes: they would have added nothing to my evaluation of the show; however, I’ve eventually found out how the creators decided to conclude the TV production which is by far the best among those I have seen.
What's so exciting about Breaking Bad? The choice of neglecting the descriptive part to underline the essence of situations? The drug issue? The violence which always draws audience? I don’t think these are the main reasons why the show has become so popular.
According to my view the success originates from the choice of the protagonists: ordinary people who couldn’t be any more normal. Walter White: high school teacher nerd who has to work part-time at a Car Wash; Skyler White: simple housewife and former accountant; Walter Junior: sixteen first-born partially retarded; Marie: Skyler’s sister and cheap kleptomaniac; Hank: Marie's husband and DEA agent; Jesse Pinkman: lonely stoner; Saul Goodman: brilliant lawyer but nothing more than a shyster.
None of these people can be entirely appreciated. The only one who always does his duty is the policeman, with whom it’s hard to empathize since he represents the authority.
The main characters are insignificant people, precisely like those we bump into every day.
Here is the key.
Life can offer scenarios where average individuals are induced to craziness. An ordinary person like Walter White experiences situations ranging from Michael Douglas in "Falling down” to Jean Reno in "Leon".
He goes through things he would never fear of: drug cartels, pyrotechnic escapes from the police, elimination of any person likely to endanger his family.
All of us are similar to the way Walter White presents himself at the very beginning: good people who respect civil coexistence rules, slightly frustrated by not being unanimously recognized the speciality we delude ourselves to possess.
Basically civil, because in spite of the sufferance we experience in our lives we rarely feel victims of an injustice too incomprehensible to be accepted.
But what if?
If a happening generates that feeling of unacceptability, what would we do to redeem the perceived infamy? What sense would suddenly make the life led up to that moment? And once we experience the loss of meaning of everyday life actions, followed by the rejection of acceptable and accepted habits, how far could we go?
As far as Walter White is concerned he goes where he never would have dared imagine, even when he chooses the criminal way which is assessed as the only possible; an endless escalation with no way out, partly because it’s not wanted, and partly because when you cross the point of no return it’s no use regretting that decision.
Once that choice is made the only thing you can do is accept the consequences, knowing that a happy ending is not realistic; you can only try limiting the damage which will inevitably occur on your family who cannot be immune to those radical choices.
Good and evil are separated by a thin line: the main characters move constantly from one side to the other. Do the ends justify the means? What cost is sustainable? How much can priorities change with respect to personal situations?
There is no right or wrong, just the consequences of your actions: those consequences may be liked or not.
The show raises a number of questions with no intent to provide answers, so the viewers constantly change side.
Nobody is entirely good. No one is pure evil. We are shown as the product of existing conditions: someone is lucky and somebody is not, some people have faith and some don’t, somebody finds it and someone else loses it.
Above all there’s a challenge we face every morning when we get up, because anyone could become Walter White or Jesse Pinkman.
But almost nobody will ever find out...