Some lovely person sat me down recently and showed me the first episode of Breaking Bad, and I swear it was love at first sight. Though I could tell it was to be an emotionally abusive relationship, I was hooked, intrigued and enamoured.
Breaking Bad is about Walter White, a fifty-year-old scientist who has dropped remarkably from his career’s peak, and finds himself in a dead-end job teaching chemistry to high school students and working spare hours at a car wash. He has a growing family to provide for, with a disabled son and a pregnant wife, with his successful and delightfully obnoxious brother- and sister-in-law hovering over them. When he is diagnosed with lung cancer and two years to live, he decides that he has nothing to lose and delves into the production of crystal meth with the help of an ex-student.
Already an interesting premise, to watch this mild-mannered innocent walk head-first into a world few of us have seen the inside of. What exactly will happen in the catalyst created by the good citizen and his terrible but seductive moral decision?
This is the premise of a lot of shows, actually. Weeds follows the story of a newly widowed single mother who begins dealing marijuana to afford her upper middle class lifestyle. Again, a perfectly reasonable character who could be anyone’s smiling neighbour engaging in grossly immoral activities. The same goes for Dexter, on a terrifyingly high level, in which the viewers get inside the story and mind of a compulsive serial killer.
Secret Diary of a Callgirl is exactly what it claims to be, Hung follows a man who becomes a male prostitute… the list goes on. Drug dealing and murder are, of course, illegal and hideously immoral in the eyes of our society, and prostitution has its own set of stigmas, especially with the character in question being a man, which is a rare subversion that causes all eyebrows within a 30 metre radius to rise. But if the actions these characters commit are so heinous then why are we so enamoured with their stories? Shouldn’t we as respectable citizens be appalled and repelled by the very suggestion, let alone the prospect of watching the intricacies play out on screen? Continue reading