Critical Reading

Breaking Bad is a TV series about a 50 year old high school chemistry teacher who is trapped in the a life without respect, money or passion. He is married to Skylar who is ten years younger. Together, they have a handicapped son, also named Walter, who attends the same high school where Walter teaches. Skylar manages the home and bills, yet contributes only a minor income by selling on Ebay. She is pregnant in this episode and nags Walter to get things done around the house in preparation for a baby that Walter knows they can not afford. The show focuses on Walter and his anger and frustration with his life without money and respect. His inability to provide for his family reflects in his lack of confidence, allowing himself to be bullied by not only his students, but family members and work colleagues as well.

The first episode begins with Walter driving an RV like a maniac in the desert. The RV runs off the road with Walter spilling out wearing only his underwear. As Walter stands in the middle of the road waiting for the police to arrive, he prepares himself to commit suicide. The sirens get closer and Walter puts the pistol to his chin. When he presses the trigger, the gun fails to fire. Frustrated by his inability to even kill himself, the gun topples out of his hand and fires. In that moment, he realizes that suicide is not the answer.

The show’s capability of developing Walter’s character with little words or background is impressive. He drives a small, old car with tires that don’t match, his students laugh at him in class and take photos of him at his second job, his wife questions him about charging $18 at an office store on the wrong credit card. His own family pokes fun of how weak he is and little he provides. When he collapses at the car wash, he tells the ambulance driver he doesn’t have good insurance and should not be taken to the hospital. At the hospital, the doctor tells Walter that he has lung cancer and it is inoperable. Walter arrives home for his surprise 50th birthday party. At the party, his brother in law turns on the TV where he, a DEA agent, is getting interviewed about the latest bust. The news explains that the bust recovers over $700,000 in cash.

This information, prompts Walter to go on a ride along with his brother in law. He discovers an old drop out student is making more money than him by making and selling methamphetamine. Like a light switch getting pushed to “on”, Walter decides that his chemistry background and his ex-students connections can make them both a lot of money. The crazy idea that a nerdy teacher can hook up with a Meth dealer seems impossible, however, the writers make it work, leaving the viewers wanting more.

The storyline and filming makes an unlikely match intriguing.


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