Breaking Class: Class in Breaking Bad

24 Sep

Breaking Bad **Spoiler Alert**

Summary: I watched the latest episode of the popular TV series Breaking Bad.  This episode portrayed Walter and Saul at the “cleaner’s” hideout for them, waiting for their heat to cool down.  Todd and his Uncle Jack’s crew are trying to find out what Jessie told the DEA, while also trying to tame him in order to use him to cook with Todd to improve their product.  The episode eventually skips forward in the future with Walter living in a secluded shack in rural New Hampshire.  Walter has his only barrel of cash which is all he has left after he was “saved” and ironically robbed by Uncle Jack.  The last scene depicts Walter attempting to contact his son and tell him that he is trying to send him and his mother money which is ill received by his still grieving confused misinformed son.  Having been rejected by his son he decides to call the DEA and turn himself in, while waiting to be apprehended he sees The Schwartz’s from the company he founded, Grey Matter, saying that Walter actually had essentially nothing to do with the company other than the name, which angers Walt enough to leave the bar and forget about surrender.

Analysis: I believe this show is interesting when looking at the aspects of class because the family featured goes from working class in the beginning and progresses throughout the seasons all the way to upper class, financially.  The Whites were working class until Walter decided to start his Meth Empire to fund his cancer treatment.  He ultimately accrued upwards of 80 million dollars and bought a carwash, which would put them into the upper class or even the 1%ers.  Walter is a true rugged individualist, he believes you and only you are responsible for your success, refusing to take belated handouts that he fully deserved from Grey Matter.  Having blown his first chance at financial success through Grey Matter, he vowed to never blow it again.  However, the illegal manner in which he made his money made it hard for them to “flaunt” their wealth, they continued to live in the same house and live the same life aside from new cars and new jobs at their car wash.  So technically they were upper class financially but stayed middle class socially. 

Walter is jealous of the Schwartz’s because they are where he should be financially.  They are, in Walt’s mind, living comfortably off the fruits of his labor, and now they have the audacity to claim that he had nothing to do scientifically or intellectually with Grey Matter.  After being diagnosed with cancer Walt realizes that he will not be able to provide for his family and therefor appearing weak which isn’t an option for who we have come to know as Heisenberg.  I believe this greed for money and need to portray this powerful persona was always there but suppressed and only surface from fear of death.      

     Uncle Jacks is an interesting character, he has which appear to be prison tattoos and runs a second rate meth empire with his nephew Todd and some underlings.  He is really dirty and gritty usually traits exhibited by lowers class individuals, but the fact that we know he runs a fairly lucrative meth operation and just stole $70 million doesn’t match his appearance.  In this episode Todd refers to the fact that even though they already have Walt’s $70 million he knows that Jack wants to make more, just because they can.  Wealth is a symbol of power they want to accrue it to portray how powerful they are, they don’t care how much they have just as long as it is more than their competition.

Conclusion: This episode suggests that you can’t really completely change your status.  The only way to change your status today is illegally, and even then you can’t completely change for fear of being caught.  Also, that economic success is a competition which reveals who is most powerful.                 

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