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Sunday, September 29, 2013

We all break bad from time to time

One of the best shows ever to hit television comes to an end tonight. Maybe you've heard? I mean, it's been mentioned a few times, both by myself and by about 200,000 other people. Breaking Bad. It's a show. Look it up. Maybe Netflix it or something.

First time I heard of the show, I was going through this, which I've written about numerous times so won't dwell on it. Let's just say it seemed awkward for me to watch a show where the plot centered on the dad from Malcolm in the Middle apparently opening fire during a family vacation to the Grand Canyon. Each website I visited had a banner ad for Breaking Bad. Each magazine I read featured a glowing but qualified review of the pilot episode.

Two previous television shows I loved had recently ended: The Sopranos and Six Feet Under. Both Sopranos and Six Feet represented two sides of the same coin for me--a coin of family business--and when they ended, I realized I'd started watching both while in Alabama, working for the family, and that I'd moved on to a town far away, not working for the family.

And when I saw the first ads for Breaking Bad, I realized I was now out of the family business. My responsibility was to someone I'd chosen rather than the people who had raised me.

Which is to say, when I decided to watch the first episode of Breaking Bad, I brought a lot of baggage to the episode, and didn't want to send up any red flags, as my husband Greg had been very hurt by my meth interlude. A lot of people had been hurt by it, really, but only one person lived with me. Greg. And I didn't want Greg to think I was fetishizing meth.

But Breaking Bad does not offer up meth as a fetish. Meth is clearly a destructive element. Even in the first episode, it is made clear that Walt's choice to cook meth might as well be Walt's choice to do meth. There's little moral wiggle-room right from the beginning of the show. Meth is bad, mmkay? Cooking it or doing it, the choice is the same. No bathtub will wash you clean.

I watched the first season in blissful silence, not telling anyone I was watching, processing my own private demons. Greg--always worried about me and suspicious, rightfully, of anything I did--had no clue this show was helping me put things into perspective. Just as Sopranos and Six Feet helped me understand family, Breaking Bad helped me understand marriage and myself.

Over five seasons, Breaking Bad has helped me understand I am, for instance, not the one who knocks. I am not a bitch. I am just a guy who is fine with a spouse, a dog, and a struggle from week to week to make ends meet.

I am not someone who will try to cook meth, do meth, or watch someone choke on their own vomit.

In short: I am not a bad person.

I will never sit beside my own pool and watch either ducks or pink teddy bears float in it. I will never endure a montage of myself cooking meth or everyone I know dying while Sia sings.

When I finally showed Greg an episode of Breaking Bad, I prefaced the showing with, "Look, I am sorry." It was embarrassing for me to tell him I'd been watching such a brilliant piece of television since I'd already scared him by living the opposite of what the show was about--I'd already admitted to being a consumer of Walter White's product.

Four years after that, there is a last episode. And nothing to replace it, really.



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