What ‘Breaking Bad’ Teaches Us About World Politics
The first of the final episodes of AMC’s Breaking Bad aired last night — and series creator/executive producer Vince Gilligan in interviews such as this has suggested that the chemistry teacher who he once indicated would go from Mr. Chips to Scarface is not going to escape without consquences. And don’t look for an ambiguous The Sopranos style ending, either.
“We often said in the writers’ room that if Walt had a superpower, it would be not his chemistry knowledge or his ability to cook crystal meth but his ability to lie,” series creator/executive producer Vince Gilligan tells EW. “Walt has been the world’s greatest liar, and I think the person he lies most capably to is himself. So in these final eight episodes, perhaps the lies will cease to find traction and the scales will start to fall away from Walt’s eyes. And when that happens, will Walt really begin to realize who he is? That’s a question that we asked ourselves a lot in the writers’ room this year.”
Gilligan is both cautious and upbeat when it comes to discussing that highly anticipated finale. “We worked long and hard to ensure that these final eight — and, in fact, the very last episode — would satisfy an audience,” he says. “I am guardedly optimistic that we have achieved just that. And furthermore, trying to be as coy as possible, trying to give away as little as possible, I feel like this ending represents on some level, however small, something of a victory for Walter White. Read into that what you will. And try to be as open-minded as possible when you watch this episode, because it may not indeed feel like a victory. Or maybe it will. … I feel good about where it all ended up, and I can’t wait for people to see it.
Breaking Bad has been hailed as groundbreaking drama: perfectly scripted, perfectly acted, perfectly directed and perfectly cast episodes featuring the greatest reprehensible star character in American television history. Books have been written that about it and the lessons it provides.
Now Peter LaVenia, writing in Real Clear World, provides us with lists and explanations about “international relations theory in Breaking Bad.”
Here’s his explanation:
AMC’s “Breaking Bad” saga is drawing to a close, and though, at first glance, it may seem like a television show better suited to analogies with domestic politics, a closer look reveals inter-state politics embedded in the world of drugs and methamphetamine. It is a testament to the show that we can find very distinct views of international politics in all of the main characters, and perhaps a larger debate about world politics in general. The shadowy world of the Albuquerque meth scene operates as a parallel international order, interacting with the U.S. and Mexican governments, drug cartels, rival dealers and organizations. “Breaking Bad” is as much about inter-state relations as it is the people at the heart of world politics.
He presents a list. Here’s a copy of each topic with a excerpt. To read his entire entry with the back up details from the plotlines, go to the link:
1. Walter White: Realist: “Like a Waltzian neo-realist, Walt sees the world primarily as an anarchic place wherein security needs to be maximized against external threats.”
2.Jesse Pinkman: Constructivist: “Why is Jesse a constructivist? Unlike neo-realists and neo-liberals — who agree that the basis of IR is the anarchic structure of the international system (though they disagree on whether international institutions, laws and norms can mitigate the anarchy) — constructivists question the foundation of the realist-liberal debate.”
4. Saul Goodman: Bandwagone: “Like a small state with strategic value for great powers, Saul Goodman has bandwagoned (and occasionally buck-passed) onto Walter and Jesse”
5. The Women of Breaking Bad: Feminist IR: “The world of “Breaking Bad” is one in which the powerful are almost all male, and the women are forced to play the game the way the men in charge have constructed it….The complexity of Feminist IR studies is too great to summarize adequately here, but highlighting the role that gender relations and patriarchy play in world politics has been an extremely important contribution to International Relations.”
OF ADDITIONAL INTEREST:
A good summary of where the show is now after Sunday’s episode is HERE.
You can buy Breaking Bad dvds HERE.
And there’s a great new book about the people who created The Sopranos, Mad Men, The Sheild and Breaking Bad and others here. MUST READING for its account of how Breaking Bad was created and how it was pitched to AMC: