Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad is an AMC television show that I recently discovered. It is starting it's fourth season this summer, so it's not a new series. But after I watched most of the first season, I knew it had to be a post.

Walter White is an over qualified chemistry teacher with a 15 year old son with cerebral palsy and a wife who is 7 months pregnant. He discovers that he has terminal lung cancer. Knowing his time is likely short (I think 18 months is what was mentioned in the show). He sets out to make money to pay for expensive treatments to support his family after his death. He does this by joining with a former student, putting his chemistry knowledge to use, to make meth.

Overall the show is a drama with a lot of drug dealing and violence. Walter turns out not to be the mild mannered chemistry teacher type. But I found the cancer angle to be very interesting. There are some very interesting palliative care type scenes. Early on in the show (Season 1) Walter was refusing to talk about treatment. His family had an intervention to discuss his choices with him.

I wasn't able to find the exact clip of his intervention but below is a "Minisode" (essentially the highlights of season 1 episode 5). The scene starts at 3:18. It isn't the complete scene but hits most of the key points. Marie is Walter's sister-in-law (who is actually a doctor) and Hank is her husband (who is a DEA agent, the plot thickens). Please forgive the brief advertisement.

Here is a clip of series creator Vince Gilligan talking about how emotional this particular scene was to make.

I love the talking pillow. Hmm, may use that in a family meeting. I really like the speech Walter gives at the end. Choosing to do nothing is itself a choice and was actually a much more thought out one than his family anticipated. While I wouldn't really call this series completely palliative care, it is an excellent drama with excellent acting.

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