Addicted to reruns about addictions

Published 12:59 am Saturday, October 12, 2013

“Hi, I’m Michele and I’m an addict.”

I’m late to the party, but I am certain that if there were a 12-step program for those addicted to the series Breaking Bad, I’d need to join.

As a generally rule, television is not my thing. First of all, Honey controls the remote, and Honey likes to channel surf. I do not.

Secondly, I rarely leave the office in time for prime time, so I’m mostly a CNN and football viewer.

But sometimes I “do” television on Sunday nights (good background for ironing). So I can’t imagine how it happened that Breaking Bad went six seasons before I tuned in. After my priest suggested that most episodes could spawn great discussion groups, I thought it might be interesting. When all the hoopla started over the end of the series, I watched about half of the finale.

And then I opened my iPad and logged on to Netflix.

“Hi, I’m Michele and I’m an addict.”

I started with Season 1, Episode 1. And I need at least a daily dose.

For the uninitiated, Breaking Bad is a crime drama series about Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. Unable to pay for his treatments and take care of his family, he turns to a life of crime, producing and selling meth in the hopes of securing his family’s financial future before he dies.

He teams with a former student and creates a much-in-demand product.

Along the way, Walter White the criminal does things Walter White the very moral school teacher never would have done. And the audience is as hooked on the series as his partner is to meth.

The series juxtaposes other “crimes” against his. For instance, his sister-in-law has a shoplifting problem that so upsets his wife that she won’t talk to her. Which is the greater crime?

But the main thing it is helping me to understand is how norms change for people. Walter who would never have hurt anyone becomes Walter the drug dealer who finds himself in a new world and commits murder. It bothers him, but it now seems the norm. His “I’m so moral” wife finds out about his “addiction” – and he truly does seem to be addicted to his new role as touch guy, at least in Season 3 – and has an affair to hurt him back. It’s her new norm.

I’m starting to wonder more about back stories, what changes the norms for people. And every time I pass a motor home, I wonder, “Are they cooking meth in there?”

Normally, I’d be inclined to just go on through the series, but like the strong, pure drug Walter White creates, it is just too intense.

If there are any other “addicts” out there, this series really is worth a discussion group.