What You Can Learn About Parenting From Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad

If you’re aware that television shows exist, you’re likely getting sick of reminders that the final handful of Breaking Bad episodes are in the process of airing. We’re suffering from a bit of hype fatigue ourselves, but that doesn’t mean we’re not psyched to see how Vince Gilligan’s saga of brilliant chemistry and shifty morals wraps up. Will Walter die? Will he and Jesse finally kiss? Is baby Holly going to take over for Jacob as the new guardian of The Island?

Maybe you’re saying something like, “Yeah, that’s swell, but why are you talking about Breaking Bad? It’s not nerdy, and it’s got little to do with parenting.” If you are saying that, shut up! SHUT THE @#$% UP!!! YOU’RE STUPID!!! It’s got lots of science in it! Walter White is a science teacher! He’s a nerd! It’s a nerdy show! Also, it’s got a lot to do with parenting! Moms and dads could glean some useful tidbits from the White family’s wacky adventures in organized crime! Here’s a list of those!

(Following: spoilers abound)

It’s always tough to know what the hell you’re supposed to tell your son or daughter during a rough patch with your spouse, especially when the truth could traumatize the poor tyke into a coma. Walter and Skyler cope with singular circumstances during their separation in season three: Skyler can’t explain to Walter Jr. that she kicked his dad out for cooking lots and lots of meth, and she has yet to concoct a yarn about gambling addiction to explain why a mentally unstable, recently-fired high school teacher suddenly has insane amounts of money. Due to his cluelessness, Walter Jr. assumes dad must be blameless, and mom is nothing but a big ol’ B word.

Walter Jr. lionizes Walter Sr. throughout the series, and arguably, this alienation from Skyler pushes him to place Walter Sr. on an even higher pedestal. Needless to say, the teenager formerly known as “Flynn” has some soul-crushing disillusionment to not look forward to.

It’s disingenuous to Monday morning quarterback Skyler’s decision to keep Walter Jr. in the dark. But perhaps he would’ve been better served if she told him a little white lie (PUN INTENDED) that made both her and Walter Sr. look like good guys. That way, the youngest Walt will be able to still like one of his parents once he inevitably finds out about all the people his dad murdered.


Breaking Bad Jesse
We glean that the Pinkmans took all sorts of wrong turns while raising Jesse. But they certainly regretted one particular decision they made on camera – kicking their son out of his house just because he was cooking crystal meth in the basement.

As far as novice black-market chemists go, Jesse may be the exception to the rule. But not long after the Pinkmans wrote him out of their lives, their eldest became a millionaire. Mr. and Mrs. Pinkman never knew what was up until, as they were vacating his old home, Jesse arrived with the keys to the front door, as if to say, “Screw you Mumsy and Dad’ums, I own this [email protected]#$!” Y’think they kicked their own butts for preemptively disqualifying themselves for a cut of their son’s newly-gotten riches? Yes, you do think that.

A lot of characters on Breaking Bad make dubious life decisions, but none can brag of a track record more obviously flawed than Spooge and Spooge’s lady, who appeared in a pair of season two episodes.

As they’re unable to report robberies of drugs they were selling to the police, serious drug dealers have a professional imperative to hunt down and slay anyone who steals from them. Spooge and Miss Spooge got lucky when they ripped off Jesse’s lieutenant Skinny Pete – Jesse’s crew hadn’t yet grown accustomed to the murdering aspect of their jobs. The junkie lovers almost got away with their transgression. But while Jesse was busy being semi-conscious on their living room floor following a botched assassination attempt, Lady Spooge dropped a stolen ATM machine on Spooge’s head. Because that’s the sort of thing people do while they’re withdrawing from meth, we guess?

Anyway Spooge’s hilarious death and his girlfriend’s resulting imprisonment may not have been the worst thing that could’ve happened to She-Spooge’s son, a malnourished, clearly neglected mute who Jesse discovers at the beginning of “Peekaboo.” Nonetheless, we declare indirectly placing children in danger in order to steal drugs from probably dangerous people as an example of bad parenting, as is dropping a large, cash distribution apparatus on anyone’s head during a romantic tiff.

Y’know, a lot has been written about the morality of Breaking Bad – how all Walter’s misdeeds supposedly lead to horrible consequences. But how true is that, really?

Since Walter began cooking crystal meth, plenty of terrible things have happened. More than 160 people exploded in a plane crash he maybe, sorta, depending on how you look at it, totally caused. A whole bunch of his new buddies from the drug trafficking community bounced loose the mortal coil under unpleasant circumstances. His buddy Jesse’s girlfriend died. Then Jesse’s new girlfriend’s little brother died. Those times were both really sad, and Walt’s been totally stressed out about a lot of things, but….

Has anything really bad happened directly to Walt? Last we checked, his cancer was in remission, his family will never have to worry about money again, and his brother-in-law wasn’t much closer to catching his mythical “Heisenberg” than he was when he started. You think Hank takes anything he reads on the toilet seriously? If he did, in Breaking Bad World, everyone who writes for Maxim would be on the extra painful version of death row.

Is it possible that, in a “gotcha,” M. Night Shyamalan-ish twist ending, Breaking Bad could end with Walter, Skyler and Jesse sipping fancy pink martinis, laughing and basking in all their good fortune on a tropical island Walt just purchased from David Bowie? As Walt receives news that, like a Christmas miracle, the tumor in his lungs has vanished, he chuckles, glances off into a majestic sunset, and mutters, “I got away with everything. And I feel just great….”

P.S.: If you don’t understand this last one is a joke, please cease and desist all reading of Nerdywithchildren.com.

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