Grand Rounds

Why we do the things we do

Good-Bye, Breaking Bad. Really...I'll Be Fine.

Breaking up with a favorite can hurt

It’s time to talk good-bye.

Never an easy thing, that’s for sure. In Westerns they just tip their hats and ride off into the nearest sunset. Even Clint Eastwood can’t stomach a heartfelt farewell.

But I’m saying goodbye right now, and I am struck, once again, by how difficult it is. I am accosted by memories. I am overwhelmed by connections. I am suffering through intense moments of shared empathy...of remembered triumphs and endured failures. What can it all mean now?

Was it all just an illusion? Does this farewell (and this farewell IS forever) mean that none of these shared experiences ever happened? I can’t even Friend you on Facebook. I can’t write to you or call you or engage in anything but a unidirectional and likely quite painful meandering through my own hard-earned recollections.

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I remember your face, Jesse, when you cooked your first batch. Hell, it was like you experienced success for the first time in your life. And then you covered for your brother, that goody-two shoes little twerp, even though it was his cannabis and not yours that your parents found in the house.

Mike, even though it seems eons ago that you tipped over peacefully next to that desert stream, you have managed somehow to stay alive for me.

But not any more.

Not after this Sunday night.

Come Monday morning, and it’ll all be over.

Walt, you’re so freakin’ smart—just tell me what to do. Do I watch it all “live” or do I download it the next day? If I wait until Monday (I think the iTunes copy appears at 6 AM ET), then its sort of like you all stick around for just a little bit longer.

I'm begging you, Walt. Just like you begged that nice man who helped you to move to New Hampshire.

Stay. A little bit longer. Just another hour. Maybe two. I feel…well…connected to you...to you all.

I’ll even watch Holly every Sunday if you agree not to go.

Alas, I know I must face facts. Mr. Chips has become Scarface. The bad must end. There will be new characters, new ideas, new stories…all of them iterative, just like you, Breaking Bad, all of them building on the genius of others…but for some reason you guys really got to me.

You showed me how easy it would be to slip-up. You showed me the blindness of rapt ambition. You showed me the allure of translucent blue. You tempted me with a world of skewed consequences.

You clouded and complicated Good and Evil.

And now, just like that, you plan to leave.

You know what?

Forget it.

I don’t need you or your silly hat. I don’t need to know how it ends. I don’t need to know what you plan to do with that gun.

I don’t. Really. Screw you. I’m done. Finally I get my Sundays back.

Good riddance.

Hey, hey…I was only kidding. That was just my anger speaking, really. You’re the one who taught me about speaking when I’m angry. It never goes well. “Be reasonable,” you’ve said, thousands of times.

So, I think, all things considered, a clean break is definitely in order. No calls or texts. I will not watch the DVDs of past seasons.

If my melancholy sounds silly, I apologize. And, dear Mr. Gilligan, who first brought us this warped view of ourselves, please know that you have struck gold. Researchers have long pointed to the parasocial affinity that develops with sports and fiction and especially with the realism that the TV affords.

There exists actual data that folks will feel blue (irony – BLUE – like Heisenberg’s product!), when a show finally ends. It’s been shown for programs as different as Friends and the Sopranos.

But, thank goodness, the writing on TV has never been better.

Walt and Hank and Jesse and Skyler and Saul and Mike and Todd and everyone else…go in peace (Yeah, right.).

I will wait for the next program to capture my psyche.

Meanwhile, maybe I’ll go for a run on Sunday nights instead. I could stand to lose a few pounds.

 

Steve Schlozman is a child psychiatrist and author. His first novel, The Zombie Autopsies, was published in 2009 and is being adapted for the screen by George Romero

Steven Schlozman, M.D., is an Associate Director of Medical Student Education in Psychiatry for Harvard Medical School.

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