Like my soul, “Breaking Bad” is now dead. It’s all over. Sunday night’s series finale marks the end of new episodes, clever and imaginative Reddit content, and hour-long conversations among friends bantering back and forth about what the next episode will bring.
I’ve been through this before, though. The same thing happened when I finished the seventh Harry Potter book all those years ago. For days I was on the verge of a breakdown after “The Office” aired its last episode. Oh and I was pretty bummed when my girlfriend and I broke up. So yeah, I’m familiar with the feeling.
This complete sense of personal loss has me mentally torn. On the one hand, I allow myself to develop these strong, parasocial relationships with fictional characters all the time and I enjoy it. When you get emotionally involved in a show, a book, a film or any other sort of narrative text, developing a “friendship” with the characters makes the show more enjoyable. On the other hand, however, when the stories end and you feel that in losing your fake friend you have lost something near and dear to your heart, it’s kind of pathetic. So that’s where I’m at.
The ability to dedicate our emotions to something, even when we know it isn’t real, does illustrate the point of good narrative, though. The best stories being told should draw us in and keep us hooked. When a character feels pain, so too should we. We should be happy when we see someone on screen that we care about falling in love with someone who is “perfect” for him or her. It shows to us that even though we may not be able to socially show this type of emotion towards other humans, we are capable of it. It may even teach us to allow ourselves to be emotional and care about certain things, no matter how valid you might think they are. This ability may be one of the few things keeping us from becoming nihilistic lawyers with complete social apathy.
The beauty of all this is that the emptiness you probably (definitely) are feeling because of the end of “Breaking Bad” can be shared with others. In fact, the emotions you feel with any other relationship like this are more often than not mutually felt between you and any number of other people. Surely I cannot be the only one that wakes up wishing my life was equal to Ron Swanson’s or that I could hang out with Troy and Abed in the Dreamatorium. Like any other hobby or strong interest, the emotional ups and downs of being “friends” with a fictional character instantly creates an unspoken bond with other actual humans; in fact, relationships created that way are often the best ones.
So for all those out there suffering from this loss: I’m sorry. Things will be okay. There is bound to be another amazing show that comes out one of these days that (partially) fills the gap left by “Breaking Bad.” Who knows? Maybe AMC will even have the next best thing premiere one of these days. But not “Low Winter Sun.” That crap is terrible.