Goodbye "Breaking Bad"

“Breaking Bad” fans are saying a tearful goodbye to the critically acclaimed show. Last Sunday’s series finale marked the end of five controversial seasons. The show had all the right elements to bring together a massive and fervent following. But it failed where we needed it most. It failed our kids.

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If you are unfamiliar with “Breaking Bad”, I will give you a short, completely spoiler free synopsis of the show. Walter White is a chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with a fatal and advanced form of lung cancer. Wanting to assure his family’s financial future and pay for the treatment, Walter teams up with a former student and begins using his prodigious knowledge in chemistry to cook and deal meth. It sounds like it could be something of a buddy story if it weren’t for the death, destruction, and drug dealing along the way.

I will credit the producers on one thing: they do an excellent job of not making the character of Walter White out to be someone that should revered or idolized. He goes through much hardship over the course of five seasons. But the show has an ultra-realistic approach that can inspire others into the world of drug abuse and dealing. Someone in a desperate situation might look at “Breaking Bad” as a means to escape. They might identify with Walter White and get access to the basic materials needed to cook meth, as outlined on the show.  Each episode was supervised by Dr. Donna Nelson, a professor of organic chemistry at the University of Oklahoma, whose sole purpose was to make sure the dialogue involving science was accurate and up-to-date. What’s worse, “Breaking Bad” has the potential to serve as an inspiration for new ways meth dealers and addicts could interact.

With its wild popularity, it would have been nice had “Breaking Bad” included some information on how addicts can get help. Perhaps not within the plot of the show, but some sort of public service announcement or paid spot. We need less potentially harmful programming about the harrowing life of an addict and more information on the difficult climb out of addiction. This was a golden opportunity to get lifesaving information into the mainstream. And “Breaking Bad” missed it spectacularly.

With the possibility of more shows emulating “Breaking Bad”, we need to talk to our kids about the importance of staying away from drugs and alcohol. Walter White started down his unfortunate path due to tragic stress in his life. Our Parent Tracking 2012 survey showed that kids will turn to drugs because of stress as well.  Our kids need to know that drugs are not the answer to stress.

And so we say goodbye to “Breaking Bad” and its negative influence and unwillingness to offer information to help those in need. Hopefully, other popular shows in the future will.


If you or someone you know in the state of New Jersey is suffering from addiction, please call The Addictions Hotline of New Jersey at 211 or 1-800-238-2333, anytime 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All information shared is confidential.

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