Text by – DAVIDE PARLATO
Translated by – NICOLE BOURIS
The 40th edition of the People Choice Awards, prize given to actors and shows mostly preferred by the CBS spectators, was held in Los Angeles on the 8th of January. Many awards were given out, among these: “best comedy” to The Bing Bang Theory, “preferred actress” to Sandra Bullock in Gravity, “preferred movie” to Iron man 3. The award “tv show that will be mostly missed from the spectators” has been given to the tv show that can be defined as one of the biggest and most recent, certainly it characterized 2013, cult media phenomenon: we are talking abut Breaking Bad.
The fifth and last season of this series, on tv since 2008, in fact, has been shown during last year. It has been deeply acclaimed by the public, it gained the support of leading personalities from the entertainment world (sir Anthony Hopkins wrote an admiration and congratulations letter to main character Bryan Cranston, in which he commented: “I have never see nothing similar. Fantastic!”), it was praised for the great interpretations by the cast, very rare in a tv series (Walter White has recently been elected most influential fake character of 2013): Breaking Bad seriously had all of the credentials to become a cult phenomenon. And it actually did.
The reason, from which the series of events that make up the tv show set off, is pretty simple but immediately sharp: Walter White, high school chemistry professor in Albuquerque, was diagnosed with an untreatable lung cancer on the day of his fifth birthday. Worried about his family- his eighteen-year-old son is affected by a cerebral paralysis and his wife is pregnant- he was compelled to make a decision that would drastically change his life. He became aware of the market of methamphetamine through his brother in law, who works at the DEA and desperately saw in the production of drugs a way to use his skills in chemistry and earn in a short amount of time a considerable sum of money, which would have allowed his family to lead a serene life after his inevitable death.
For these distressing reasons he asked for one of his former students’ help, Jesse Pinkman, local producer and distributor of methamphetamine who already once was able to avoid being caught by the DEA. This choice obviously changed Walter’s life deeply: from being a mild and unsatisfied professor he found himself launched in a world full of crimes, diseases and deaths, in which he immediately understood that the only possible morality was the most rational and scientific one: the strongest survives. The world of chemistry, as the analysis of changes, came true in real life for the first time: and everything he knew his city, his family, himself, changed radically just like a victim of an inevitable molecular reaction. Atoms colliding, humans colliding: everything dipped in a blind chaos that man could only undergo or try not to face with the guile of the lie.
This plot, twisting thrilling events with calm ones, which herald the inevitable (that never abandons the stage), has all of the characteristics of a successful and addicting show. However the real greatness can be found in the strong emotional component, characterized by a continuous evolution of the main characters, which, swallowed by a cynical destiny, undertake a journey of continuous metamorphosis and progressive self-awareness. All of this is clearly reported on the screen (with no moral analysis) by a strong characterization of the protagonists, precisely depicted in every aspect of their existence, and mostly thanks to the great interpretations by the whole cast, incredibly involving, disturbing and progressively stronger and more dramatic. The director does not interfere at all and, indeed, he often has fun reversing the traditional fiction roles, constantly destabilizing the viewer, whom is abandoned without any certain interpretation of the critical analysis of the events and choices made by the protagonists.
Choice is one of the great themes of the show: the importance that a choice has for oneself and for other close people’s destiny and not the importance of knowing how to take that decision. Some choices are random, others are compelled, and more are taken unawarely: but at the end all have consequences on life, more or less pleasant, often unwelcomed or unexpected – and at times fatal.
Characters are painted with bright colors and are well-defined, dissected on the rough stage of a modern western, create a kind of cowboy movie reinterpreted in a modern way, using the traditional features of an ” existential pulp ” that wants to meditate on the precariousness of the human condition in the struggle against themselves, on the complex aspect of the soul and on the arbitrariness of the boundaries that the person establishes between right and wrong. All of this determines an emotional agreement between the show and the audience, an unfair pact in some ways because you end up trusting and cheering for the wrong people, creating an absolutely and involving destabilization but at the same time difficult and painfully inviting: we are faced with something really rare among the western media production. We are in front of a masterpiece in every aspect: interpretation, screenplay, photography, and characterization.
Breaking Bad is a cult show in every aspect, it will surely be missed by all its proselytes, that have both suffered and (rarely) rejoiced with its characters. So the only thing left for them to do is to watch the entire season over again: and for whom it was unknown, doing it would be a good ‘self denial’ for this New Year.