October 14, 2015

What's So Bad About Breaking Bad?

I recently heard someone use Breaking Bad as an example of the celebration of sin in American culture. The individual who made this claim had apparently never watched an episode, but assumed that any TV show whose protagonist is a meth cook must be an example of the celebration of sin. I don't think that's the case with Breaking Bad. You might object to the show's depictions of violence, drug use, foul language, sexuality, etc., but it certainly doesn't celebrate them (at least not when viewed in the context of the entire series).

The show is a morality tale. It's a tragedy, depicting the main character's self-destruction—his descent into depravity. And it's not pretty. Yes, Walter White has some fun along the way, but look at how his story ends. Without giving too much away, I'll just say that it doesn't end well. There's something entirely appropriate about depicting a life of sin onscreen when the filmmakers also show the terrible consequences of said life.

The Bible also describes many sinful behaviors and situations. If it were put onscreen it would merit a hard R rating. So, when a Christian is evaluating his entertainment choices, he ought to take into account more than whether or not sinful behavior is depicted onscreen. He ought to ask what the attitude of the filmmakers is toward the actions that are depicted. Is sin celebrated? Are its consequences minimized? Or is the truth about the destructive nature of sin depicted as well? 

One could argue that in certain instances Breaking Bad crossed the line (the aforementioned language, violence, sexuality, etc.).  That's up for debate. But, as far as the series as a whole is concerned, I think the message was clear. Anyone who thinks it's a good idea to go into the drug trade after watching Breaking Bad missed the point entirely.


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