I have been binging on Breaking Bad so that I could watch the last episode in real time. The show was a remarkable morality play, and one of the best television shows I have ever watched. (I am not on “Team Walt.” The character’s sense of personal failure and raw envy unleashed a murderously selfish evil.)
Ross Douthat explores the country’s reaction to the program in an excellent NYT column. And he brings up something I hadn’t caught in the show, that I think is worth pondering. From, “The World According to Walter White:”
By making Walt a chemistry genius, the show offers an implicit rebuke to the persistent modern conceit that a scientific worldview logically implies liberalism, humanism and a widening circle of concern. On “Breaking Bad,” that worldview just makes Walt a better kingpin, and the beautiful equations of chemistry are deployed to addict, poison, decompose.
Douthat is right. Through art, Breaking Bad demonstrates that the assumption among many that a society ruled by “science” would, by definition, be humane and compassionate is an utterly ridiculous notion.