"Breaking Bad," Looking Bad, & Looking Good
I did not want to watch 'Breaking Bad' at all. It looked like a boring man's show.
Plus I work for the government. It seemed wrong to celebrate someone selling methamphetamine.
On top of that it sounded like a repeat of the Showtime series 'Weeds.' (A desperate character has no money, needs cash, sells drugs.)
But then I overheard the other mothers at the swimming pool.
"Did you see it? I can't wait."
So I convinced my husband to watch the pilot episode with me on Netflix.
IT WAS AWESOME!
I realized that the story was not about the plot at all. Rather it is about the character. Confronted with the worst news of his life -- the impending loss of his life -- he goes from pushover to man.
The title of the show refers to this. Walter 'Breaks Bad' -- crosses the line-- after a lifetime of others telling him what to do.
To illustrate this, we see Walt get humiliated a lot.
His friend the DEA agent makes fun of him at his own birthday party and brags about his Glock gun.
His wife gives him lifeless vegan bacon.
A brilliant physics teacher, the students interrupt him in class.
And at his second job, answering phones at a car wash, he is humiliated into washing the cars themselves - even those of the insolent students.
Walt collapses one day. He finds out he is going to die of inoperable lung cancer. And desperation makes him not care. About being nice, about being quiet, even about going to jail.
In the beginning of the show, Walt is a very unlikable character. The other characters treat him as such: straight-laced, uptight, weak.
But then we see the facade fall apart. We see him deciding not to take it anymore, to act instead of being a victim. We think about the complexity of this person, who cooks up a brew that destroys people's lives but insists that it be "chemically pure."
Wally's son is disabled and walks with crutches. Some guys hassle him. Walt heads straight toward the bullies and kicks the lead jackass in the shins, hard. And holds him down. "How does that feel? Who's crippled now?"
I don't endorse assault or drug dealing. I don't think we need an army of Walts. But there's a lesson here for PR.
It's not about trying to look perfect.
If you want people to like you, let them watch you struggling to achieve something. Whether or not you get there, the credibility is worth more than a facade.
* All opinions my own.