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Breaking Bad and Dignity: Unity and Fragmentation in the by Elliott Logan

By Elliott Logan

An bold interpretation of the severely celebrated and largely renowned crime drama Breaking undesirable , this publication argues that not just should still the sequence be understood as a express that revolves round the dramatic stakes of dignity, yet that to take action finds - in new methods - crucial features of serial tv drama as an paintings shape.

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Extra resources for Breaking Bad and Dignity: Unity and Fragmentation in the Serial Television Drama

Sample text

Yet there is another way of understanding dignity as a much more contingent, fragile, and morally unfixed form of human expressiveness, one that is particularly resonant with the modern conditions of fragmentation pointed to earlier. Todorov arrives at such an understanding through the testimonies of concentration camp inmates about their attempts to attain or hold onto what they took to be a sense of their own dignity. ) What Todorov arrives at is that common across these accounts of dignity is the wilful agreement between inner and outer, something like the visible restraint and mastery of expression seen in the ‘Buyout’ sequence described above.

Where Walt Jr and Skyler just get on with it and, by doing so, find a passing enjoyment in each other, Walt retreats into dissatisfaction with the ordinary situation they all share, which seems pale in comparison to those extraordinary, now unrealisable possibilities held in his past. Walt Jr and Skyler toss barbs between each other with a harmless ease that implies their ongoing regularity, yet they seem to painfully prick Walt. This pain marks the moment at the breakfast table as a quietly humiliating exposure of his felt inadequacy as a father and a man.

The setting thus intersects Walt’s extraordinary achievements that are now past with those more ordinary ones that are present and unfolding before him. Although he might justifiably take energising pride in both, Walt’s careless exertions in this space suggest the risks and rewards of realising potential no longer lift his spirit, but stifle it under their burden. The scene’s final image presents an undercurrent: Walt bends down and looks at the dial of his exercise machine; he looks to measure his progress.

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