Last night was the premiere of season five of “Breaking Bad,” and also when season four became available on Netflix streaming.
I love this show. It is not too often when a show is well written, complex and challenges the viewer’s own beliefs. I mean, the main protagonist, Walter White, is a sociopathic meth cook who we tend to cheer for.
But that is too easy of a picture for old Mr. White. The premise is long and tangled, with a few casualties along the way.
But basically in the first season, we learn Walter has lung cancer and decides to cook meth to raise a comfortable pillow of cash for his family for when he eventually passes.
The sanity of Walter White slowly deteriorates over the seasons. He can find justifiable excuses in all his actions, from lying to his family, cooking meth, money laundering through charities to cold blooded murder.
White is not the first character on a show that I have watched slowly becoming an unlikable scumbag. I saw it in the six seasons of “The Sopranos,” watching the once likable Tony Soprano, mob boss and family man, basically rise and fall. That show was just as well written as “Breaking Bad,” but I’m slowly enjoying White’s antics more than Soprano’s.
But we, as a culture, seem to enjoy watching these anti-heroes. No matter how frightening they become (Soprano losing his mind in the sixth season, basically killing or wanting to kill just about everyone in his path. Walter White taking out Gus in season four.).
But the flawed anti-hero is not only in dramas. Look at comedies. Larry David’s twisted characterization of himself on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is prime example. We laugh at his bizarre behavior, but he is a pretty disturbed character. Everyone on “The League” and “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” are border line psychotics.
But the difference between these comedic nut jobs and those of Soprano and White is that we could see someone actually become a Walter White and history has shown heads of organized crime syndicates are pretty much cold blooded when it comes down to business.
With season five of “Breaking Bad” beginning, it will be interesting where White’s madness will take him in the end.