Why good people do bad things: Breaking Bad, season 3 premiere

“Breaking Bad”, the twisted and criminally under-watched AMC show, debuted it’s third season last week.  Judging from the first episode, “No Mas,” Bryan Cranston, Vince Gilligan and co. haven’t mellowed out.  Surreal, paranoid and funny, the show basks in its own bleakness.

Quick recap: Walt, a high-school chemistry teacher,  becomes a meth cook after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.  His motivation to do so is murky: at first he only wants to make some money for his family for after his death.  Soon, though, he seems to be enjoying the money and notoriety.

Season 3 opens with Walt’s wife filing for divorce, having just learned of his alternate income stream.  To make matter worse, two planes have collided over the city, scattering debris and charred remains.  Meanwhile Jesse, Walt’s former-student drug dealing partner, is in rehab.  No one would confuse “Breaking Bad” with realism, but the show, with its dark and ironic tone, feels real. *  Watching the season premiere unfold, it occurred to me that the show, like other recent TV dramas (“Sopranos”, “Mad Men”), was moving its focus to a failing marriage.  Sex, drugs and gangsters are the sugar that makes the medicine** go down.

*Unlike say “Weeds.”

**Love and Betrayal

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