Breaking Bad Lives On

I’m a Breaking Bad fan as many others are. Why, because it was the best darn show on TV and was what my son says, “the most moral show” that explored the human situation and psyche. I asked him what he meant by the most moral show. He explained because even though there is violence, as there is in that particular meth-underbelly world and anything subculture (he knows having gone to school with some kids whose family members were involved with meth) but  he said, “every death mattered” on this show.  I didn’t have to think hard to realize this day and age that violence on TV is depicted with such informality and passing that no wonder we don’t subject our emotions to get caught up in it or even think twice. Why then can people be so non-complacent, maybe because of bombardment of violence that we see in the entertainment world that has had this effect? Perhaps it’s just a form or protectionism for our emotional fragility or more likely because we’ve become accustomed to seeing so much of it and the next movie has to outdo the previous with extra amount of bang-em-up, explosive special effects and gun play?

Breaking Bad got back to the basics of the human character and how it can be flawed. It also questioned the man’s role of husband, father, provider, as very well described in this article, Die Like a Man: The Toxic Masculinity by Laura Hudson for Wired. I remember going to dinner at our good friends’ home after watching a riveting early episode. It left us unsettled and we couldn’t stop thinking about it so it came up in conversation. A Catholic priest friend of theirs was in attendance and by the end of the dinner, my husband and I had even him convinced that it was OK to cheer for the main character even if he was “bad.” The show pulled at our heart-strings early on for a character who seemed to be doing bad deeds for good reasons and made us root for the anti-hero but even as Walt turned truly bad by getting caught up in power and “feeling alive” from the plots he put into action, it was hard to let him go. Even in the end, parts of the original good Walt returned but it was too late and too much damage had been done to give him much forgiveness. All bad characters got what they deserved. Unfortunately, they hurt and “turned” good people along the way.

Many are talking about how the series ended. I thought it was brilliant, twisting all the unraveled loose ends into a final tight knot. The ending was a strong clean one with no one left hanging — except for hope — that Jesse, the other transformative character, could finally get a clean break, a fresh start but it would be truly up to him to do so with no strings left attached.

I’ve enjoyed Vince Gilligan’s writing ever since the The X Files, one of my favorite shows on TV. Breaking Bad had this same kind of anticipation with every episode but with even more depth and superlative acting from Bryan Cranston, who I also loved as the Dad on Malcolm in the Middle, as well as the entire cast, that I think it will go down in history as a show to try to emulate. Sadly, however, others are trying and failing miserably. There is no formula to follow and that is what made it great. Better leave it remembered as is and use some examples of what it taught with exceptional writing and believable, everyday, common-man characters living “what if'” scenarios in which we could easily see ourselves slip.

Fortunately, the great memories of Breaking Bad live on and these stenciled murals from VanCityBuzz in Vancouver give some nostalgia for a show that was really worth watching.

breakingbad1_vancitybuzz on Art Is Everywhere

breakingbad2_vancitybuzz on Art Is Everywhere

breakingbad3_vancitybuzz on Art Is Everywhere

breakingbad4_vancitybuzz on Art Is Everywhere breakingbad5_vancitybuzz on Art Is Everywhere

Have to give a tongue in cheek nod to the VanCityBuzz post How Breaking Bad would have ended had it been in Canada.

Barzun, Books & Art

Jacques Barzun passed away over the weekend. He was 104 years old! He must have been doing something right. He most certainly did with his opus book, Dawn to Decadence. It breaks 500 years of the history of  Western Civilization into four periods from 1500 to the present age, which is coming to an end (just around the timing of his death, coincidentally). Will the younger generation ever read or understand the importance of his work? He was considered the most scholarly historian and intellectual of our era. Although The Washington Post did a commendable write up, here’s his official obituary, an excerpt is below:

“From Dawn to Decadence,” summing up a lifetime of thinking, offered a rounded, leisurely and conservative tour of Western civilization, with numerous digressions printed in the margins. Barzun guided readers from the religious debates of the Reformation to the contemporary debates on beliefs of any kind.

“Distrust (was) attached to anything that retained a shadow of authoritativeness – old people, old ideas, old conceptions of what a leader or a teacher might do,” he wrote of the late 20th century.

Barzun told the AP in 2003 that he remembered coming to the United States after World War I and finding a country that lived up to its own happy, informal reputation. “It was openhearted, amiable and courteous in manner, ready to try anything new,” he said. “But many of those things have gone to pieces, for understandable reasons.”

With recognition to him and his appreciation of culture and the arts, here’s a lovely piece of book art, from my archives of posts that never got written. This piece was in the Counterbalance exhibition @ March, 2010 at the School of Visual Arts in NYC, which details the creative/ healing process of the patient/ client guided by the combined efforts of clinical experience with the studio art training of their psychologist/ therapist.

Counterbalance-image via SVU, as seen on Art Is Everywhere

Like Barzun’s words, art and literature can be combined for a powerful therapeutic experience, similar to “when you experience something that’s beyond words, and you can deal with it through art, there’s something cathartic about that,” stated by Deborah Farber, the Chair of the Art Therapy Department. Knowledge and creativity can work in tandem to bring understanding and healing to individuals and this often crazy world in which we live….Speaking of a kind of crazy tradition, it’s Halloween, now go dress up and scare someone and hopefully you’ll be rewarded with treats not tricks.

Happy Halloween!