Drama is defiantly seen as one of the most popular genres for television series around the globe, with crime dramas usually making up a majority of what we seen on TV.
So, it’s interesting that the American smash hit TV show, Breaking Bad, a crime drama from the perspective of the bad guy, rather then the police became one of the most popular dramas across the world. With five series starting in 2008 and finishing in 2013, the drama about Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher with terminal cancer, with a special needs son and a pregnant wife who turned to producing and selling meth to make sure they are supported after he dies, is watch by millions across the globe from the US to Canada, England, Spain, Australia, New Zealand (Dredge 2013), and many European countries like Germany, France and the Netherlands.
The show even broke into the Asian market with a fan base of over 10 million in china (Brown 2013) and a large fan base in India.
The first and only adaptation of the show was announced eight weeks in to the first series. Metastasis, a Spanish version of breaking bad that was to be set and based in Columbia was being made simply for the benefit of the large South American audience and large Spanish speaking population in America.
Metastasis was however a near exact replica of the original show only making a few subtle changes to make it the adaptation culturally appropriate for Columbia.
This can be seen in the main character Walter White becoming Walter Blanco in Metastasis, with Blanco being the Spanish word for white (Terrero 2014a). It is also demonstrated in the change from Breaking Bad’s iconic white RV that was used as a meth lab was substituted for an old school bus in Metastasis. This change was made due to the fact that RV’s aren’t common in Columbia and a bus would be culturally, more likely (Terrero 2014b).
It is clear that there has been no intention to dramatically stride from the original show or plot which begs the question, why has this show received so well in so many countries without plot change?
There are a number of reasons but the most obvious is that is it rare in most countries to get a TV drama that is from the perspective from the bad guy and to see their reasons for committing the crime. This story gives a fresh and complex insight into committing crime, which is new and intriguing in any country.
The second is the emotion evoked with the story that a high school teacher who is going to die, with a disabled child and a pregnant wife and doesn’t have money to support them once he’s gone goes to all lengths to provide for his family no matter what it takes. This notion suggests a kind nobility by him producing meth, which in most countries would be considered bad, yet the sympathy conjured by the act creates a new look that challenges most cultures views, again then making the show a new, different and incredibly popular around the world.
Brown, W 2013, ‘China watches ‘Breaking Bad”, Tea Leaf Nation, Viewed 21 September, <http://www.tealeafnation.com/2013/09/why-millions-of-chinese-are-also-watching-breaking-bad/>.
Dredge, S 2013, ‘New Breaking Bad series already a global hit… for BitTorrent downloads’, The Guardian, Viewed 21 September, <http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/aug/13/breaking-bad-bittorrent-downloads-piracy>.
Terrero, N 2014a,”Breaking Bad’ Spanish remake: Top moments from the new Walter, Jesse’, Entertainment Weekly, Viewed 21 September, <http://insidetv.ew.com/2014/04/02/breaking-bad-spanish-remake-metastasis/>.
Terrero, N 2014b, ‘Spanish ‘Breaking Bad’ remake ‘Metastasis’ vs. the original: What’s new? PHOTOS’, Entertainment Weekly, Viewed 21 September, <http://popwatch.ew.com/2014/06/08/breaking-bad-spanish-remake/>.