Wide Shots and Innocent Children in ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘Mad Men’

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I’m afraid that what I would have to say about images in Breaking Bad and Mad Men has already been posted. I especially agreed with Max’s observation that the wide shots in Breaking Bad inspire in the viewer a vague sense of creepiness, as if we’re eavesdropping on a conversation that we shouldn’t be hearing. I also noted that the two scenes that utilized that shot were with Walt and other women, one of which was even his ex-lover. Although I don’t believe that there is sexual tension in either scene (rather, both seem to concern his secret), it was still interesting. We don’t get the same distance when watching Walt and Skyler; by 2×06, the viewer is much more familiar with their relationship and conversations.

While “Peekaboo” and “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” are at different places within their very disparate series, they still shared several factors in common. Both could be termed standalone episodes: “Peekaboo” for its Jesse plot with the meth family, and “Smoke” for its status as a pilot. I really liked what Breaking Bad did with Jesse’s side of the episode; while Walt was running around having clandestine meetings to preserve his secret, Jesse spent the same amount of time (roughly one day) stuck at Spooge’s house. Like the addicts, his storyline was stymied, halted; he had to wait on their terms in order to execute what he thought would be an in-and-out job.

Both shows use the trope of the little kid to garner sympathy, and while I agree that it may be a clichéd move, in both instances it worked. The meth addicts’ son seemed like more than a plot device, but a believable victim of the situation. The fact that he could still smile while covered in filth and underfed was wrenching. We only see Draper’s kids at the very end of “Smoke”, which does make them seem (for this episode, at least) more on the “plot device” side of the spectrum. Yet it’s a smart move, to not reveal Draper’s home life until the very end of the episode: show him with various women, reveal his surprising reluctance to attend the bachelor party, introduce Betty… but wait, it’s the children that seal the deal, that make us truly believe that he also has a family. Betty on her own couldn’t have done that, considering his attitude toward women.

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