Wednesday, July 27, 2011

breaking bad and meth

Breaking Bad is another one of the programs that airs on the crime channel that we get here. Compared to my overtly negative feelings for The Sopranos, I have a much more positive disposition to Breaking Bad. I rarely expect television to be realistic and Breaking Bad is hardly the most plausible program out there. Early on, it was tangentially related to science enough to be interesting to me. Now, it has really captured the desperation and fear that drive the decisions that the protagonist makes.

I am also intrigued by the show for two other reasons. The first is the awful Pontiac Aztek, arguably the ugliest mass-produced car in recent history, driven by the main character. I think it's fantastic as a vehicle for him because it's nearly universal ugliness and appearance of being down-trodden so thoroughly reflected our lead in the beginning of the show. He has grown, but the car has stayed the same, partly because it is necessary for him to maintain a certain appearance. And while I love how ugly the car is and how terrible its commercials were back in the day, it is evidently a decent automobile in the eyes of some.

The second reason is far less hilarious. One of the central themes of the show is the production and sale of crystal meth. It is therefore very suitable for the show to be set in New Mexico, a place I lived for three years. When I first moved there is when I really first become aware of what meth was and what it did to people. There was various drug-awareness training at work, but the most compelling thing was a big billboard at the edge of town showing a picture of someone with meth mouth. (Note: not a pleasant picture, but far tamer than what was on the billboard.) Compared to most other states, use of meth in New Mexico is very prevalent. And its use in the oilfield is also distressingly common in the western states. Farmington is hardly ground zero for crystal meth, but in hindsight, it is now very clear that one guy in particular at work was using. Some days he was fantastic at work. Other days, he barely went through the motions and was prone to very unusually timed stretches of fatigue. I never really keyed into it at the time since a lot of people were a little 'off' compared to what I had grown up with, but I later learned he had all sorts of problems and meth was one of them. If you must know, he eventually got fired.

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