Hurt myself skiing. Trapped at home. Feeling low. Watching BREAKING BAD.

Sorry there hasn’t been much activity here lately. Two Sundays ago I hurt myself skiing. It was a stupid injury. Was the end of the day, was on a green slope, coasting towards the ski village, and my ski caught some slushy ice and sent me falling. The other ski didn’t detach, instead it twisted my knee and sent a sharp pain through it. Since then I’ve had pain when I walk, particularly down stairs. I’ve been icing it, compressing it, elevating it, staying off of it, using ibuprofen, etc. My plan is to do some hardcore resting in the hopes that it’ll heal, but it’s just really depressing to be trapped in your apartment right at the beginning of spring, when the weather is, for the first time, just unbelievably warm and beautiful. The flowers are literally blooming and birds are literally singing and I can’t go outside!!!!

I’m going stir crazy is what I’m saying. It’s a problem.

I’ve also had some professional difficulties lately (it looks like I’m going to be parting from my publisher), and in general I’m not in a very good place.

So I’ve been watching Breaking Bad!

Generally I have a lot of trouble paying attention to television dramas. I don’t know what it is: they just bore me. I think they don’t demand enough from me. Say what you want about comedies, but there is usually something happening every minute. And books require you to, you know, actively read them. Dramas though…well, okay this is just my opinion, but I don’t think they require the full brain.

However right now my full brain isn’t really available for use, so I’m totally in the mood for dramas. I’d started, four years ago, watching Breaking Bad, but I found the first three episodes were way too intense for me, so I gave it up. Then, a week ago, I started watching Better Call Saul, and I found it so compelling that I was like, maybe I should give Breaking Bad another chance.

Well the joke’s on me, because the first three episodes were an aberration. The rest of the series (at least so far) is way less bloody and way less intense. I’m liking it, though I’d be hard-pressed to say why. Walt is so awful. No anti-hero I’ve ever written has been nearly as selfish or thoughtless as he is. And what’s interesting is that he’s awful but he also has an element of impotence. I mean he’s obviously doing better in the drug game than most people would, but it’s also clear that he’s only alive because of luck. Every episode sees Walt operating right on the edge of his abilities and just barely scraping by.

Which is different from most antiheroes. Many antiheroes are pretty blatant power fantasies: what would it be like if I could do anything? kill anyone? sleep with anybody? charm people with my magic words? or kill them with my crowd of thugs?

Walt wants those things, but he can’t quite get them. And yet he comes close. It’s a really fine line, and I’m surprised that Breaking Bad managed to walk it. What I would expect from this show is that most viewers would be turned off, not by Walt’s selfishness, but by his general patheticness. He alternates so frequently between superman and schmo that sometimes you get whiplash from seeing it. But that very conflict is at the root of the show’s appeal.

 

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