The hit TV show, Breaking Bad, has people wondering if the show’s popularity will influence people to use and traffic more drugs. In the show, Walter White is a struggling high school chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. As a way to support his family financially before he dies, he turns to a life of crime, partners with Jessie Pinkman, and starts mass producing and selling methamphetamine.
First airing in 2008, the popularity of the show has taken off dramatically. People of all backgrounds, from professors, to stay at home mothers, to business executives, have claimed to be fans of the show. However, some law enforcement officers refuse to take part in the trend, stating that they will not support a show that glorifies that type of lifestyle.
Legal prosecutors are worried that, with the glorification and normalization of methamphetamine in the TV drama, there will be an increase in people trying to imitate Walter White and Jessie Pinkman’s illegal way of life and an increase in illegal activities. Blake Ewing, an assistant district attorney in Texas, believes Breaking Bad made, “[the] idea of people using meth [a] little less foreign,” thus, it has become a normal part of life. Because of this, methamphetamine becomes less fearful to try or become involved with the trafficking the drug. He also says, “[W]hen a critically acclaimed television show centered on the drug world so permeates popular culture that it becomes the subject of water cooler talk and Jimmy Fallon parodies, there can be little doubt that some people on the margins of society (teenagers, young adults, low income, poverty, etc.) will be drawn into that world, if only out of morbid curiosity.” Law enforcement officers fear Breaking Bad creates a false sense of familiarity, and can make people view the drug production, trafficking, and use in a more trusting way.
Others believe that the show is not influential on the use or selling of methamphetamine. Most responsible adults will not try to find a local methamphetamine dealer solely because they watched Breaking Bad. Some believe that Breaking Bad shows the dangers of methamphetamine and how it can ruin lives, thus making people stay away from the drug. Walter White never uses the drug, but by becoming a drug dealer, his life has become chaotic and consistently puts his family in danger. Jessie Pinkman is an on-and-off-again meth user, and the TV drama displays his problems with being a user and how he continues to try to overcome his addiction.
Breaking Bad can be analyzed from many angles, and criticized for glorifying meth or praised for displaying the hardships of those living on the margins of society. In addition, Breaking Bad recently won an Emmy for Best Drama. By winning the one of the highest TV awards, the lifestyle of Jessie Pinkman and Walter White is being praised more than ever, and shows that society enjoys this type of glorification despite being controversial. The series finale airs Sunday, September 29th at 9pm on AMC. Although the show is ending, the long term effects bringing methamphetamine into pop culture will be seen in society.
Are you a fan of Breaking Bad? What do you think about the show? Do you think the show will influence drug use or decrease it?