A Dual Analysis of Breaking Bad and the Walking Dead: Part 1

Introduction: Why?

Well here’s an unlikely post, let alone a series of posts. What could interest me enough about these two shows that would bring me to deface our beautiful website with talk of television? The answer is that they are very high quality television shows, and they provide legitimate insights into human behavior. These aren’t midday soap operas, they are impressive works of fiction. What brings me to write about them, however are the characters within the two series. Not only do both series have tremendous character development, but they have a fantastic character growth (even if this growth is negative). Most importantly, both shows allow us an insight into theoretical extreme conditions which people must overcome, and they contrast each other beautifully in this respect.

The Walking Dead provides a vivid scenario in which individuals must overcome the destruction of the entire societal order which is then replaced by a constant threat of violence, death, and scarcity. Meanwhile Breaking Bad offers us an example of a man who has destroyed his own life through his own actions. He began with the best of intentions: to help his family, but has increasingly been corrupted by the lure of power and wealth to the point that he has come close to destroying everything that he once was and that he originally worked to preserve.

The two scenarios are antithetical to one another. While the latter takes place entirely within the framework of society, was chosen on some level, and could have been escaped at several points within the story, the former show envisions a scenario which was in no way chosen, destroys the societal order, and presents characters with a terrifying reality that they can never escape.

I believe that both offer us insights into human behavior under certain dire, and fascinating, situations, and therefore they are worthy of a deeper examination.

The Series

This series of articles will consist of several, rather short posts. This is a basic introduction that describes what will be looked at. I recommend to that you watch these shows, as they are both incredible shows. The majority of the content that has thusfar been produced for both shows is available on netflix instant play and I’m sure there are certain dark corners of the internet on which episodes can be found. I would recommend that you forgo reading this series of articles until the time that you have completed watching the shows, because I will include a fair amount of spoilers within this series. If you have no intention of watching either show then I still believe that these articles will be of interest, and I will provide enough exposition to allow anyone to understand the plot details which I’m talking about.

Breaking Bad

Synopsis: Breaking bad takes place in modern day New Mexico. The main character is a fairly mild-mannered chemistry teacher by the name of Walter White. Walter is diagnosed with terminal cancer and, in desperation to ensure financial stability for his family after his death begins producing methamphetamine with an ex-student of his, a punk by the name of Jessie Pinkman. The two go on to become increasingly immersed in the crime and violence of the drug trade. Their lives are continuously threatened, yet Walter becomes increasingly enthralled by his new role as a major player in the drug industry. Throughout the series Walter becomes increasingly hardened, desensitized to crime and murder, callous and insensitive towards those around him, and arrogant in his own abilities and importance.

What We Will Be Looking At

  1. The effects of excessive power upon a person
  2. The desires of the individual in society
  3. The effects of the drug war
  4. The effects of violence and fear on an individual
  5. The effects of fear on a person
  6. The interconnected nature of human action
  7. What people value most
  8. How violence against other effects the person utilizing violence

The Walking Dead

Synopsis: A zombie apocalypse destroys civilization as we know it throughout the world. That’s how it starts, and that is, of course, the catalyst for the rest of the show. However, this is not truly the focus of the show. The protagonist, Rick Grimes, is forced to protect his family, from starvation, the walking dead, and other humans. There is a large cast of characters which makes up the group of survivors Rick joins. The story mostly focuses upon the interactions of human beings within these conditions, the relationships they form with one another, and how their decisions and emotions are influenced by these conditions.

What We Will be Looking At:

  1. The effects of a societal breakdown upon individuals
  2. The effects of constant fear and threats of violence upon individuals
  3. What individuals value most
  4. The will to live and what makes life worth living
  5. The division of labor in apocalyptic scenarios
  6. The long term effects of living within this environment upon individuals
  7. Property rights and morality within apocalyptica

This is all pretty deep stuff, I know, and while it may seem ridiculous to examine issues of such importance to television, I think that these two stories are up to the task. I hope that this series will ultimately prove to be interesting and insightful to any who choose to read it.

-Neodoxy

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4 thoughts on “A Dual Analysis of Breaking Bad and the Walking Dead: Part 1

  1. Marko 11/25/2012 at 00:05 Reply

    A whole series of posts? It seems you’re taking on quite a workload for yourself.

  2. Marko 11/26/2012 at 21:53 Reply

    BTW, precisely these two are my favorite currently-running shows as well. So, yay!

  3. Neodoxy 11/27/2012 at 02:32 Reply

    Happy to hear it, and I certainly agree with you. I also hope that you enjoy my commentary upon the two shows.
    As for the series, I find it easiest to write about things I’m interested. The posts probably won’t be extremely long (probably about 500-800 words a piece) so it’s not too big a deal.

  4. Andris Birkmanis 05/07/2014 at 14:26 Reply

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