AMC’s “Breaking Bad,” about a high school chemistry teacher who starts manufacturing crystal meth to pad his family’s savings after learning he has terminal lung cancer, closes its final chapter beginning Sunday.
It’s bittersweet for fans of the critically acclaimed show who appreciate creator Vince Gilligan’s willingness to break with convention. How often do you get hooked on a show whose main character transforms into a sociopath with no redeeming qualities? Other programs have had “lovable sociopaths,” but Gilligan took a risk by committing to a story arc designed to have viewers fall out of love with the main character.
Gilligan respected his audience by making a smart show. In turn, fans want the show to end on his terms, even though they’re not quite ready to say goodbye.
Folks in Albuquerque, where the show filmed its five seasons, are also sad to see the show end.
Albuquerque has built an economy around “Breaking Bad,” reports Company Town’s Richard Verrier, from hosting $65 tours of the show’s filming locations to selling thematic products like rock candy designed to look like the show’s blue-colored meth. (Personally, I don’t think it’s a good idea to glorify drugs with treats that appeal to children, but that’s a topic for another day.)
The actual production of the show was also good for Albuquerque’s economy. “The production spent an estimated $1 million per episode in Albuquerque, providing an economic boon to many local companies that supplied goods and services,” writes Verrier. He continues:
Since production began in 2007, "Breaking Bad" has spent an estimated $60 million to $70 million on goods, services and wages for crew members in New Mexico — not counting wages paid to actors, writers and directors — said a source close to the show who was not authorized to speak publicly.
The production employed a cast and crew of 120 people over 62 episodes, 90% of whom were New Mexico residents.
“Breaking Bad” isn’t alone in stimulating the economy. The Motion Pictures Assn. of America recently put out an infographic highlighting the entertainment industry’s contribution to the economy. Not only is it a job creator, but it also pays livable wages and it keeps money flowing through the economy.
Unfortunately, the entertainment industry won’t be able to continue to stimulate the economy in this way if so-called fans continue illegally downloading film and television programs.
Normally when I hear from people who illegally download content, they excuse their behavior by assuming that Hollywood fat cats can take the hit. What I don’t think they consider are all of the real people, the workers, they’re hurting -- and in a time when jobs are scarce. Hopefully, this “Breaking Bad” example will help illustrate that.
Oh, and for those of you who steal film and TV shows because Hollywood isn’t catching up to consumer demand, I beg you to catch up on the industry’s latest innovations, like ABC’s live-streaming app.
Respect and support the creative community, or watch it slip away and take its economic contributions with it.