Breaking Bad, Georg, & Vince
If you’re a fan of Breaking Bad (and Vince Gilligan), then you probably noticed in the latest episode Hazard Pay, a solemn – perhaps authentic – remark that Walt makes in an intimate moment with Jesse after cooking in the “bombed” house:
Secrets create barriers between people. Speaking from experience believe me. All that you’ve done, it’s a part of you…and I mean if you choose to spend the rest of your life with this person then you’ll have to decide how much you’ll share with her.
So I’m left to wonder about sociologist Georg Simmel’s influence on Gilligan and co-writer Peter Gould. Gilligan especially, in addition to creating Breaking Bad, either wrote, directed, produced, or was in some way involved with the most fantastic espisodes of X-Files, Lone Gunmen, and Harsh Realm. All of these shows had in common one thing: secrecy. In fact, I’ll go as far to say that in terms of the stories he’s woven, Gilligan’s entire career is built around the very tension that Simmel (1906: p. 466) described regarding the influence of secrecy on human relationships:
Secrecy sets barriers between men, but at the same time offers the seductive temptation to break through the barriers by gossip or confession.This temptation accompanies the psychical life of the secret like an overtone. Hence the sociological significance of the secret, its practical measure, and the mode of its workings must be found in the capacity or the inclination of the initiated to keep the secret to himself, or in his resistance or weakness relative to the temptation to betrayal. From the play of these two interests, in concealment and in revelation, spring shadings and fortunes of human reciprocities throughout their whole range.
Due to copyright, I can’t upload the couch segment, but there’s a chance it might show up on youtube shortly. Think of Simmel when you watch. Better yet, go read his stuff. I’m of the mind Simmel would have been a huge fan of Gilligan’s work.