Is bad the new good?

I don’t have time to watch much TV. I don’t have a DVR, I don’t have a working laptop so I can watching streaming videos and I don’t have cable. Sue me! I do, however, have a Netflix account! So I prefer to catch up on my favorite shows via DVDs.
I’ve been sucked into two shows, Breaking Bad and Dexter. What’s interesting is that these shows are both hailed by critics as well as viewers. I’d say Breaking Bad is the darker one of the two, but Dexter is certainly not your average cup of tea either. The shows’ main characters are not the usual good-natured protagonists you usually see (and that’s what’s so good about the shows!). They’re neither studly-looking, fashionable, outgoing or even FUN people. I’d go as far as to say if they were in my crowd… I’d probably not hang with them. But they are both very smart, intelligent and don’t really stand out from ‘the norm’.
Well, that’s only on the outside.

What they share – is this dark, calculating persona; smooth on the outside, but really fucked up on the inside. Here’s the difference:

In Breaking Bad, you get to see the change…hence the title. The pilot episode is so well-written and acted, that in just 15 minutes we learn that Walt is a socially awkward, nerdy, high school science teacher that has not earned the respect from either his wife, his family or his class. He’s constantly worried about finances, his job, his wife but keeps it all on the inside. When he learns that he has incurable lung cancer, the bubble bursts – Walt breaks free. He teams up with social reject Jesse (also a former student of his) to cook meth. It’s brilliant. The more violent and bloody their crime spree turns, and as Walt breaks down from chemo – the more Walt faces death the more he feels alive – a very powerful juxtaposition. But as viewers will generally feel some kind of sympathy towards Walt, and perhaps also a justification of his actions… this is not the case with Dexter.

Dexter, on the other hand, is devoid of any human feelings. He wears a mask to fit in, he basically fakes emotions so people won’t suspect him. Dexter was born a killer – it’s in his system. He can’t help who he is, but he doesn’t feel remorse either. He just DOES. This is not so say Dexter is not a complex character. He is, but he’s complex in what he’s lacking as opposed to what he has.

Both are breaking the law, both are tearing up families, teasing law enforcement, wiping their trails clean and planning their next move. Dexter and Walt are excellent liars; masters of disguise. But when they break the law and pave the way… I wonder… how has it come to this? Is BAD the new GOOD?

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