In the realm of television dramas, few series have left as indelible a mark as “Breaking Bad.” The show, created by Vince Gilligan, took audiences on a gripping journey. However, as with any impactful piece of entertainment such as Peaky Blinders, the question arises: Is “Breaking Bad” suitable for younger audiences? In this blog post, we delve into the thematic elements, age ratings, and the potential impact on impressionable minds. As we dissect the show’s intricate narrative and character development, we aim to provide a Breaking Bad parents guide.
What Is Breaking Bad About?
Breaking Bad tells the story of a chemistry teacher who used to be part of a company but dropped out before the company became a successful multi-million dollar organization. Walter White, the chemistry teacher, finds out he has cancer on his 50th birthday and decides to build a pile of money to leave for his family, who are struggling financially. Since he’s a chemistry genius, he decides to make more money by…making meth.
Yes, the show is about a chemistry teacher who turns into one of the greatest meth cooks in the world throughout five seasons. Because of the crime-ridden world that Walter finds himself in, he’s constantly dealing with drug dealers, organized crime rings, and immoral people. As the story moves along, Walter White turns from being a Mr. Goody Two Shoes into an unjustifiably bad person who kills easily.
What Is Breaking Bad Rated?
Breaking Bad’s age rating is TV-MA which means it’s meant for mature audiences. This rating is the equivalent of an R rating in movies. However, according to IMDB’s parental guide, this age rating differs in other countries, sometimes even for specific episodes. For example, some episodes are deemed appropriate for 15-year-olds in Ireland.
CommonSenseMedia says that Breaking Bad’s “intense, morally ambiguous characters and storylines are meant for mature audiences.” The website gives the show a +17-age rating and says in its description that it is a “morally ambiguous show has crime, drugs, Latino stereotypes”.
What We Think About Breaking Bad
Breaking Bad does have morally complex characters which is why the show is so popular. But even though morally ambiguous characters make for a good story, they’re not suitable for children who usually need to have the “good guys” and the “bad guys” to know who to root for and who to despise.
Breaking Bad also does have many swear words, shows scenes of making drugs and can easily glamourize the process for young audiences. Also, Breaking Bad serves as a cautionary tale for mature audiences as they can tell that Walter White is no longer a good guy, but it might be hard for children to change their allegiance mid-show. In fact, it’s sometimes hard for mature audiences to not champion Walter White after his despicable decisions but that’s Breaking Bad for you. The show also features much violence, which always begs the question of whether violence in media affects children or not. Also, though Breaking Bad doesn’t feature any nudity or sex scenes, it does imply them often.
On the topic of Latino stereotypes that some people mention as well as CommonSenseMedia, we should say that we didn’t sense any racist views of Latinos in the show. The show does use Latino stereotypes of character-building at the start but quickly moves away from it as the characters become more nuanced. In fact, one of the show’s few actual good guys until the end is a Mexican DEA agent. Though many of the “bad guys” are in fact Latino, it’s because they are part of a Mexican drug cartel. In fact, arguably the most evil characters of the show are a white Neo-Nazi cartel who play a major role in the last season of the show. One article makes an interesting argument that “while reliant on Latinx stereotypes in character construction, Breaking Bad ultimately uses them to problematize American racial categories and conquest mythology.”
Though you may decide that Breaking Bad is not suitable for your child to watch, they still might try to watch it using streaming apps and other methods. There are ways to manage your child’s digital life; one of them is Safes. Safes is a parental control app capable of limiting your child’s screen time throughout the day, blocking apps entirely, block URLs, filtering keywords from web searches, and more. Safes is available on iOS and Android.
Overall, Breaking Bad is an excellent show with superb writing dealing with characters that are forced between a rock and a hard place trying to make decisions based on their wants and needs, usually not taking into account the morals of the situation. But what makes the show excellent is exactly what makes Breaking Bad inappropriate for children. Breaking Bad is too complex of a show for it to even serve as a cautionary tale. Hopefully, this guide will have helped you make an informed decision on whether Breaking Bad is suitable for your child or not.