Television shows are being seen as more intelligent compared to how it used to be. This is shown particularly in the hit AMC series “Breaking Bad” staring Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul. This show is about how Bryan Cranston’s character, high school chemistry teacher Walter White, has been stricken with terminal lung cancer and has decided to take on the life of teaching himself how to cook meth in order to provide financially for his family after his cancer has won. He teams up with a former high school student of his Jesse Pinkman, played by Aaron Paul, and they create the best meth concoction ever seen by addicts and drug dealers in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This is the perfect way for Walter to easily provide for his family when he is gone especially with a housewife expecting a baby, a son with cerebral palsy, living on a teacher salary. This show suggests the theme of how far in terms of desperation someone will go to provide for his or her family and how pride can be the motivation. One scene in particular shows the importance of the family’s desperation and Walter’s pride by how the setting, dialogue, wardrobe is put together to construct the scene. Many of these components can be compared to the findings of popular culture in television that is explained in our text “Everything Bad is Good for You”, by Steven Johnson. This scene is important because it shows
the connection between Walter and his family with the hopes of figuring out what they are going to do financially about his cancer.
The scene that will be analyzed is the scene from season one, the episode titled “Gray Matters”. This particular episode Walter’s wife, Skylar White, has set up an intervention with the family for Walter about his cancer and how important he is to them and keeping him alive is no question. This scene is important because it has all the main characters: his wife Skylar, his son Walter Jr., his brother-in-law Hank, and Skyler’s sister Marie. This scene shows the culture of the show by the setting. For the show and this specific scene the diagram of this show is to deliver the fact that Walter’s family is not extremely rich, based on the setting of the household. The White family is not wealthy based on the scene of the living room of how nothing really stands out as wealth but more so lower middle-class. The lighting is dim, the furniture doesn’t stand out, and the house is not portrayed as vibrant. This scene implies the theme of the family, which is that they do not have much money, and helps support the whole point of the intervention that Skyler has created. The culture of being lower middle class adds to the how putting Walter through treatment is not going to be easily within their financial means. The way that the setting is constructed is how lower income can be easily displayed in this scene even with no prior knowledge to the White’s economic situation.
The component of wardrobe is shown to play an important dynamic in this scene. In our text it is described that television can enhance our cognitive faculties and exercise our minds in new powerful ways (p. 12-13). The wardrobe in the scene can support this and it suggests how a viewer differentiates between characters. In Boles 3
this episode of “Breaking Bad”, the characters are wearing different colors. Skyler is wearing blue, Walter Jr. is wearing grey, Marie is wearing purple, Hank is wearing yellow, and Walter is wearing green. Everything else around the house in this scene is brown giving an insignificant backdrop to the characters to make sure that the audience is focused on the different characters and what they bring to the scene. This wardrobe choice gives the impression that each character is different but at the same time they all come together to make a purpose. Again this causes our cognitive sense, like described in our readings, to subconsciously focus on the important components that make up this scene.