As of Friday, I am officially done with the Break Bad series here on this blog, until the last episode in some nebulous time in 2013 when it will be back, and I will reflect on the series as a whole and it’s Shakespeareaness. Now the question becomes: Why? Why did I cover this show, and why am I so passionate about it when I am supposed to be an English guy and love the written word and forsake all these other shows.
Because Breaking Bad is literature. That sound you heard was the heart of every “serious” literature student and everyone who enjoys Breaking Bad as entertainment breaking at once. Enjoy it. Hear the snap. Love the snap. Feast on the snap.
This is a live-action example of something I have discussed before, that all classic literature at one point started as popular entertainment. We know that William Shakespeare existed because he was popular, just as we know with Ben Johnson, Christopher Marlowe, Aristophanes, and future generations will know of the great Renaissance man that was Jack Black. (He can sing, dance, and act, people!) Breaking Bad is an example of that. It is popular, but it is also so ripe with imagery, symbols and story that it rightfully should be explored. It should be studied.
If you think about it, television shows are still a newish medium that are being explored an experimented with in different ways. Small segments of entertainment have been around for a while (from radio shows to travelling roadside plays to YouTube clips) but the idea of a consumable half hour or hour long program is still a new idea that is being constantly reinvented. Some of those ways work. Some of them fail miserably. Some of them are like Lost and two years after it’s over people still can’t tell you if it worked or not. Some of them create beautifully messed up interesting stories with deep characters and moral quandaries that are begging to be answered, like Breaking Bad or Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
So is Breaking Bad considered literature? Yes. It should be. As I aptly have demonstrated, it has all of the elements that were available in Shakespeare’s writing, just with more meth. (I can’t even say, “but with more brutal killing” because Shakespeare has everyone beat on that.) Why shouldn’t we study a TV show or discount it for the sole reason that it’s “television”?
Reading is important. It’s art, but it’s important to remember at times it’s not the ONLY source of art.