Real life is real life and TV is fantasy, right? So when Breaking Bad’s main character, a struggling high school chemistry teacher diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer, begins producing and selling methamphetamine to provide some financial security for his family, we don’t take it seriously. Or do we?
The critically-acclaimed series went off the air this week, after five seasons and 62 episodes, but not before offering fans a fitting finale. Thanks to great writing and stellar acting, the show is now considered one of the greatest TV dramas of all time.
Despite all the critical acclaim, no one was watching the Emmy-winning drama for drug pointers, were they? We hope not, but at the very least it educated its audience to the world of meth.
That aspect alone raises some interesting issues. Do graphic portrayals of drug use on TV or in film contribute to this country’s drug problem? Are these shows all about entertainment or do they have a responsibility to audiences to shield them from up-close depictions of drug use? And on the positive side, can these programs serve as a cautionary tale, deterring drug use in some cases?
None other than Miley Cyrus had something to say about the frighteningly realistic meth making seen on Breaking Bad.
“I was watching Breaking Bad the other day, and they were cooking meth,” she told Rolling Stone. “I could literally cook meth because of that show. It’s a how-to.”
It’s a safe bet that other impressionable eyes saw the same thing. Then there’s the lookalike blue candy has also been handed out by the cast at public appearances. Entrepreneurial fans got in on the act, too, manufacturing and selling their own Breaking Bad candy.
Others argue it’s all in good fun, and certainly no one could make a case that Breaking Bad is responsible for this country’s meth epidemic. The problem existed long before the show’s premiere. It’s more a case of art mimicking life. And maybe that’s the real problem.
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