Nancy Robards Thompson
Nancy Robards Thompson

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Breaking Bad, Nancy Robards Thompson, TV shows

Breaking a bad habit

I’m continuing Kathy G’s TV theme from yesterday. Thanks for the idea, K!

I’m pretty selective about what I watch on television. I would rather read than watch TV, but I do make time for some shows.  Nice shows, mostly. The respectable ones we talked about yesterday when Kathy blogged. Today, however, let’s talk about the darker side of television. Are there any shows you hate to love? Ones that you’re compelled to watch even though you know you shouldn’t…for one reason or another? We’re all friends here. No one will judge you, I promise.

In fact, I’ll fess up first.

Recently, I’ve found myself in throes of a show that isn’t typical for me. Not at all.  I like to laugh. I don’t condone crime. I abhor violence. This show isn’t funny. It’s all about breaking the law and not only getting away with it, but getting rewarded for it.  It takes violence to a level so disturbing that if it weren’t in its final season and ending THIS Sunday night – FOREVER – I would stop watching it.

Really, I would.  I swear.

Even though I’ve already watched every single episode and haven’t been able to look away yet. Well, except for the time that explosion happened and part of the guy’s face fell off. I did cover my eyes. Okay, so I peeked. Ew. This is not the stuff you find in romance land.

The show is Breaking Bad. I got sucked in because someone told me I looked like a character on the show (the general consensus is that I do not look like her and that’s fine). But gosh, now I’m totally addicted to the show.

First, I have to give the cast and writers props: the acting and writing are superb. Off the charts, Emmy-winning great. Right…and that, children, is how they get you addicted.

At first, it seemed like a great character study. There aren’t very many heroic characters on this show. Yet, I found myself pulling for the high school chemistry teacher who starts making and selling meth with one of his former students. Nice guy, huh? A parent and law-abiding citizen’s worst nightmare.

But come on, Walt has cancer and shockingly poor health insurance. If he doesn’t do the expensive treatment he’ll die and leave his pregnant wife and their special needs teenager with debt that’s already caused him to take a second job just to make ends meet. If he gets the treatment he needs, treatment that might – MIGHT – save his life he will be hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. What if he dies after getting this treatment? He will leave his poor pregnant wife and their special needs teenager saddled with crushing debt. So what option does he have but to make and sell meth? See? See?? You feel his pain don’t you?

He’s a drug dealer, people! How can we love him?

Well, I don’t. Not anymore. I want Walter White and all the miscreants that have wormed their way into his once normal life to go away. Or at least I think I do. After the finale on Sunday.  But with all the loose threads dangling, I can’t even fathom how they’re going to wrap up five seasons of BAD in one last episode. The show has made so many unexpected twists and turns that – much like this blog, where I can’t remember if I’m talking about TV shows you hate to love or paradoxical characters — one minute you hate it and the next it takes such a turn you say, “What? Oh, good grief, I have to watch next week to find out what happens. Unless you’re like the Norwegian, who after watching twenty minutes of one episode, got up and left the room uttering, “I hope they all die.”

Breaking Bad? TMZ? Bridezilla? The Jersey Shore? Real Housewives? What’s your TV drug? What are you compelled to watch that horrifies you?


16 thoughts on “Breaking A Bad Habit

  1. Thank you for your post, Nancy. Allow me to make two points.

    First, I don’t have any guilty pleasures. I refuse to feel guilty about my pleasures.

    Second, I haven’t watched “Breaking Bad”. Which is just as well, because I don’t see how I can possibly believe a character like Walter.

    Real drug dealers don’t make their living this way for reasons comparable to his. They do it for purely selfish reasons, usually because they themselves are drug addicts. A drug dealer is typically his own best customer. There’s nothing admirable about people like that. They have no redeeming qualities. And they ruin lives. They do society immeasurable harm.

    In short, the very idea of a hero who’s a drug dealer sets my teeth on edge. There are some things for which even I can’t suspend disbelief. And if I can’t buy the character I’m supposed to be rooting for, what’s the point in watching a show in the first place?

    1. Mary Anne, thanks so much for your response. You’re a smart lady. We shouldn’t feel guilty about what gives us pleasure, should we? I understand and appreciate your points. Sometimes I will keep reading a book or watching a movie or show (more so with books) that I don’t care for simply to see how the writer pulls it off. That’s why I couldn’t stop watching Breaking Bad. While I don’t find many of the characters sympathetic (and the subject matter is appalling), I have to know how this ends. Right now it seems hopeless to expect even a satisfying ending for anyone on the show. However, what’s kept me invested is week after week the writers have pulled off such unexpected twists that I never saw coming. If I could’ve figured out what was around the show’s corner before it happened I probably would’ve walked away a long time ago. One important thing I forgot to mention in my blog is that this show does not glorify the drug business. In fact, it’s a cautionary tale. It graphically illustrates that there is no happy ending for people who choose that path. Especially if they think they can get in and get out fast. It’s quicksand.

  2. Thanks, N! :)

    My guilty pleasure TV is watching Storage Wars with Rob. We just crack up at how people go crazy bidding on someone else’s junk. :)

    I haven’t watched Breaking Bad but I’ve heard it’s really good. We’re thinking about watching it after the last episode so we can see it all. We did that with Game of Thrones.

    1. I’ve seen Storage Wars! I know how addictive it can be. If you do watch Breaking Bad. Be sure and start from the start.

  3. Nancy, hubby and I just started watching Breaking Bad. I resisted for a long time because of the subject matter. And I totally agree with you – it’s addictive, just like Sons of Anarchy, Dexter, Justified, and The Sopranos. All shows with morally challenged protagonists that shove lots of questions about ethics right up our noses. Hubby and I often get into huge debates about these shows, and I will say that they often make me think through issues that I’d mostly rather avoid – which is what makes them such compelling TV!

    1. Vanessa, I love the debates that have stemmed from Breaking Bad. My daughter and I have had some interesting discussions about it. Since you just started watching it, I promise not to leak any spoilers.

  4. Connie Fischer says:

    My hubby and I got hooked on Breaking Bad. Had it just been me, I would have never returned after watching the first episode. However, Hubby, being the blood-thirsty typical male that he is, kept watching. While I grumbled in the background, I soon became hooked too. The acting is amazing. The drug making, drug dealing and violence is awful. Nevertheless, I am drawn to it.

    1. Connie, maybe we become fascinated because it’s a different world than we’re used to. I had hoped to make some sense out of it (I know…it’s only television). ;)

  5. Shana Shana says:

    My vice is too much time on Facebook. In the evenings I don’t have time to watch TV. Even if I wanted to, my husband is always watching sports. Last night he was watching some documentary movie about the Manning family. I can pretty much always walk away from sports, even sports documentaries.

    1. Shana, I love your Facebook posts. If that’s your vice, I hope you won’t ever give it up. ;)

  6. Kathleen Kathleen says:

    LOL…the Norwegian and I might share something on this. I watched the first episode of Breaking Bad, and I was so irritated by the ending that I haven’t gone back yet. Plus, I hear that if I dare to go back I’ll get hooked, and I’m hooked on so much TV right now I just don’t have time for another guilty pleasure! ;-)

    However, I did spend waaaay too much time a few years ago watching One Tree Hill. I have NO idea why. I didn’t tell people until I was over it–that’s how embarrassed I was.

    1. Yes, Kathleen, you and The Norwegian do have that in common. As for giving the show another chance…RUN! Save yourself!

  7. catslady says:

    I would say Survivor, DWTS, Idol, and America’s got talent. They are fun to talk with others about lol. Other than that I watch Castle which is my favorite.

    1. Those are some great choices, Catslady! I’ve heard fabulous things about Castle.

  8. Mia Marlowe says:

    I sort of got hooked on Stephen King’s Under the Dome, which really frustrates me because the story is full of people who are TSTL–which may account for why so many of them have died. The villain is a cardboard character–a used car salesman, for pity’s sake. Just about every hackneyed thing that could happen has. And yet, I sneak off to watch it each week (the DH refuses to spend an hour of his life he’ll never get back on it!). I think it’s because I want to figure out what the dome is and why it’s there. I’m past caring what happens to the residents of Chester’s Mill.

    1. Ah, Mia, you hit it on the head! I’m beyond caring for the characters (after my initial figure-out-the-villain phase). I just want to know how it turns out. I’m tunnel-focused on that.

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