Breaking Bad // VS \\ Weeds

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We all are familiar with the high school chemistry teacher that broke bad and started cooking crystal meth as means to pay for his cancer bills, but do we still remember the mom that started to deal pot after her young wealthy husband died of freak heart attack? AMC's Breaking Bad starring Bryan Cranston, a hit television show that shocked viewers with suspense and thrill. A couple years previous, Showtime aired Weeds starring Mary Louise Parker by leaving viewers intoxicated by her character Nancy . This wiki space is dedicated to exploring the deeper psyche of these two peculiar parents and give a critical analysis of both shows as a whole.

Breaking Bad

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Walt's devious expression facing away from his wife Skyler who is pregnant and his son Walter Jr.
Breaking Bad is the chilling story of Walter White (Bryan Cranston) a former chemist and chemistry teacher in Albuquerque New Mexico. After being diagnosed with lung cancer Walt became heavily involved with ‘cooking’ and dealing crystal meth as means to pay his medical bills and support his family.
While studying chemistry in his earlier years Walt contributed much to an uprising multibillion dollar company, Gray Matter Technologies. Before the company officially launched Walt abruptly sold his financial interest. His former partners became lovers and Walter hostility towards them was obvious.
Walter seeks out Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) former chemistry student to aid in manufacturing and selling the meth. With Walter’s extensive knowledge in chemistry he is able to produce some of the purest meth the streets have ever seen. He adds a rare chemical called methylamine that gives the meth a unique blue color. As Walter’s product takes over the market issues arise. At first Walt’s approach is quite pathetic, but Walt gradually learns the necessity of being merciless. As the show progresses Walt’s ego creates the infamous, ‘Heisenberg’ that is fueled by money, power, and greed.


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Shane Botwin (far left) Silas Botwin, Nancy (middle), Doug Wilson, Andy Botwin (far right)

Weeds is a story about a widow Nancy Botwin (Mary Louise-Parker) who begins dealing pot as her source of income to support her family after being left penniless from her first husbands freak heart attack. Nancy has two sons, Silas Botwin (Hunter Parrish) Shane Botwin (Alexander Gould). At first Nancy quickly discovers the struggle of keeping business and family life separate. Nancy's other struggle is complying with the normal middle class standards and is constantly aiming to break the social code. Nancy finds herself always getting into trouble. Her family and friends are left to pick up the pieces. Nancy appears to be the most conceited and self centered mom I have ever met. But her enticing and manipulative personality makes you wanting more.


In both shows one of the parents are dealing illegal substances. The situations are different and can be examined by the tone of each. The first episode of Breaking Bad does not encapsulate how dark Walt becomes. In the beginning Walt is presented has as a simple high school teacher, polite and friendly. But as Walter becomes more involved with the drug trade Walt is constantly being tried to defend his business. The viewer can see this dramatic change within the first season after Walt struggles with killing Krazy 8. He waits several days to contemplate weather he should let him live or die. Walt even writes out a pro and con list. After he decides there is no other way and he must kill him, confronting Tuco by throwing ricin in his face was no problem. Walt learns violence is his biggest defense therefore his whole attitude changes. He becomes unsparing and the dark lighting enhances the serious tone.
Walt struggling to kill Crazy 8, the first person walt kills and the beginning to his terror.
The tone of Weeds takes a less somber approach and more of a bright upbeat tone. In the beginning of the series Nancy thinks that what she is doing is harmless. She tries to keep it a secret but her brother-in- law, Andy Botwin (Justin Kirk) and her sons eventually find out. While what she is doing is illegal, she shrugs it off as ‘Oh, it’s just pot’ and keeps dealing. Throughout the show her drug dealing progressively seems to go out of her control.
Because she takes a less serious approach than Walt the show reflects her care free attitude. For example the lightning itself is brighter and filmed usually during the day. Unlike Walt’s family we are really involved with Nancy’s sons. Silas, her oldest son eventually ends up joining in on the ‘family’ business which sets a more comfortable tone. There is also underlying humor in every episode. The characters have their serious moment and their comical moments as well.

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Nancy and her crew officially naming a weed strain called MILF after Nancy


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Jesse and Walter at the beginning of the series first starting to get involved with violent crimes and dealing heavy drugs.

Each show has a ton of characters and all of them play an important role in shaping the story line. However, each protagonist has a foil that is necessary for their character development. In Breaking Bad, Walt’s partner Jesse is an extremely important relationship. Jesse taught Walt the ropes of cooking and selling meth. Walter was always strict and serious with Jesse. Walt always was looking out for Jesse best interest, encouraging Jesse to stay clean from Meth. In some ways Jesse became a son to Walt. But at the end of the season what Heisenberg did to Jesse was not right. Heisenberg tortured Jesse with killing his girlfriend, poisoning an innocent child, and mental games. It becomes clear that Jesse wishes his life would have been different on the other hand Walt is a perfect fit for this life. The last scene in the finale shows it all, Heisenberg lying peacefully on the ground as the camera takes a high angel and slowly pulls back showing all of his beloved equipment surrounding him. Walt seems to even have a slight smile and one tear coming from his eye. By these two extremes we can see the true villain, Walter who shows no remorse or Jesse who is flooding with it.

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Jesse holding Walt up at gun point completely distraught from all the trauma Walt inflicted on him. Their relationship grew apart, the scene symbolizing the decaying relationship.

In Weeds, Nancy and her dead husband brother develop a close yet unfair relationship. While Nancy was off frolicking and dealing drugs with the Mexican cartel, Andy was always at her home taking care of Silas and Shane. He would cook and clean, he was the glue that was sticking them all together. Through all of the relocating and new husbands Andy was always there for Nancy. He would go out of his way to help her at any costs and was always there for the boys. It was during the last season when Andy became sexually involved with Nancy’s sister did he realize the one sided friendship. He stopped doing things for her and left. He said to her, “You helped me when I was lost, gave me a home, family, purpose. I’ll always be grateful to you, and I’ll always love you, but I can’t be near you.” as he walked away. It was clear that Andy was Nancy’s crutch. She only came to him when nothing was going her way and in the end realizes how much he cares for her and what her life could have been like with him.
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Andy caring for Nancy in her time of need.
Andy always keeps a positive and hilarious attitude to cheer Nancy up.


The themes of Breaking Bad include money as the root of all evil, pride, and true intentions. The whole reason Walt seriously considered to sell meth is because he was exposed to the insane profit and thrill by his brother in law, Hank (Dean Norris). After he found out he had cancer he made cooking meth is night job until he couldn't handle it anymore then began as a full time meth cooker. Walt was making so much money did not even know what to do with it let all alone store it, taking care of his money was one of his biggest priorities. While his wife Skyler, (Anna Gunn) thinks they are broke She begged Walt to ask his former partners from Gray Matter to help pay the chemotherapy bills. This hurt Walter so much to have to ask them for money. It was his only option or he had to tell Skyler he has been cooking and selling meth for the past couple months. The fact that Walter had to borrow money from Elliot and Gretchen kept Heisenberg in business so he could repay them to spite them.
After Walt was making so much money that it did not even matter to him anymore the greed and power went straight to his ego. For example what he did to Jesse. Walt was completely detached from compassion towards his loyal friend. In one scene in the last episode Felina you could see in Walt’s eye for one second regret, but it vanishes right away.
Lastly Walter White’s true intention of becoming one of the biggest Meth drug lords to have existed was solely for himself. Walt admits during the finale that everything he did, he did for him, “I liked it, I was good at it. And I was really… I was alive.” It was Walt needing excitement in his life that he always anticipated. He has always obtained the evil, ruthless, and merciless persona, but was only triggered upon the diagnosis. Walt’s ability to manipulate and his natural talent as a liar influenced people to do whatever he desired. He loved being in control of the flow. As soon as he felt he was losing that control he did whatever he could to protect his assets and reputation.


In Weeds some major themes include the role of family, middle class suburbia, and the role of gender. Nancy to say the least has not always chosen the best path, however she does make the best of it. Nancy loves her children and family, however she has neglected them. It was rare for her to be home for dinner, she would disappear for days at a time and eve came back married! She finds it uncomfortable to have to discuss important changes that occur during puberty with her son. Usually when she is out in about she is buying or selling pot then getting herself into some sort of issue having to spend a majority of the time solving it. Then most of the time she would get her family involved and they would have to help her solve the problem. For example once they are traveling across country in an RV they won from a butter sculpturing content, the whole family would stop at events along the way to sell their product. It became means as support and as a family they were all dedicated.
Nancy’s biggest pet peeve is following the rules. She loathes conformity and anything that smells like tradition. Her constant struggle throughout the show is to accept her life as an upper middle class white woman. Nancy wanted to make it clear that she is much more than that. So she makes her own rules. Her most notorious stunt was marrying a Mexican drug kingpin head of the cartel for instance, then turning him into the authorities to benefit her and her family. Nancy’s hatred toward this society is another reason she continues to sell pot.

Lastly, it is clear that Nancy uses her gender as a method of advancement. In multiple situations she has slept with a man in order to get what she needs and or wants. Should Nancy be able to get her way because she sleeps with men? Apparently yes. In some cases she was turned down but very rarely. It seems as if Nancy would use this tacit as a last resort. Some women would say Nancy has no respect for herself, she treats her body as an object, what is stopping a man from doing that? Walt would never be able to use his body to persuade a drug lord. It shows the contrast between strategies.


Overall each show has different characteristics yet a similar concept. Just normal parents that are flawed. Both Nancy and Walter have done some horrible things to their family, their friends, co-workers, etc. some how they ended up impacting lives dramatically. However, it is obvious Walt show no emotional remorse while Nancy had her moments of regret and sorrow. Walter basically drove himself into destruction because of his ego and merciless personality. He drove his family apart, his wife will probably have PTSD, his children will never understand his father's motivation, and Jesse will never forget his voice. The writer's of Breaking Bad, Vince Gilligan paid more attention to the finale than the writer of Weeds, Jenji Kohan. She really did not know how to end the series. The ending was abrupt, peaceful, and little inconclusive. While the finale of Breaking Bad kept you at the edge of your seat in a state of suspense and excitement. After the whole thing you can't stop yearning for more Breaking Bad and replaying the scene over and over in your head. I recommend Weeds as a day time show and Breaking Bad as the late show.