Breaking BadAn analysis of the White family from the AMC television show by Dylan OrrCMS 332: Communication in the Family
Members● The White family is a two-parent biological family including the following members:● Walter White- The father of the White family. He is a high school chemistry teacher and works part time at a car wash to support his family.● Skyler White - The pregnant mother of the Whites. She is a stay at home mother.● Walter White Jr. - The only current child of the Whites who suffers from cerebral palsy
Wholeness● "A family systems approach assumes that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts." (59)
Wholeness● The White family functions as a whole the way that they all suffer through the same trials together.● When Walter Jr. is teased because of his cerebral palsy condition his father retaliates in a way as if he was hurt himself.
Calibration● The White family is introduced to many challenges early on in the series.● Walter is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, an event that drastically affects his actions and the rest of the Whites.
Calibration● Walter plans to succumb to the cancer and let it inevitably take his life, instead his family members convince him to go into treatment.● In order to support his family and daughter in the future he quits the car was and begins manufacturing crystal meth.● Skyler returns to her old book keeping job as Walter has to take time off from teaching to attend chemotherapy sessions.
Interdependence● “In a system, the parts and the relationship between them form the whole; changes in one part will result in changes in the others.” (59)● As Walter begins keeping secrets from his family, he effectively pushes them away.● Walter misses the birth of his daughter because of an important drug deal he is conducting to provide for her.
Secrets● Walters secrets are classified as dangerous, they are potentially harmful to himself and his family.
Secrets● Walters hidden job is kept from outsiders for privacy, but from his own family because of lack of communication.● “Secrets reflect a lack of open communication among family members.”(90)● Walter wants to be able to provide for his family in case he cannot in the future, but does not wish to share his methods with them for fear of judgment.
Relational Currency● Self Disclosure:● “This currency involves self-revelation, or taking the risk of voluntarily telling another individual personal information or feelings that he or she is unlikely to discover from other sources.” (120)● Walters secrecy eventually drives Skyler to serve him with divorce papers and threaten to take the children.
Relational Currency● In an attempt to keep his family Walter reveals to Skyler that he has been manufacturing crystal meth in order to provide for their future hoping that she will understand that all his previous actions had good intentions.
Couple Types● Separates:● “Separates maintain a distance from people, even their spouses. They experience little sense of togetherness or autonomy.” (169)● As Walter leaves his teaching job for treatment he teams up with a drug dealer to manufacture crystal meth.● He spends most of his time manufacturing alone and only interacting with his partner.
Roles● Walter assumes the role of providing basic resources. Early on he works two jobs to provide for his family.● This role is taken to an extreme when Walter begins taking drastic actions to help out the Whites.● Being a stay at home mother Skyler falls into the role of providing nurturing.
Role Conflict● Providing basic resources v. nurturing.● After the birth of the White daughter, Skyler returns to work.● Skyler takes her daughter to work with her to protect her from Walter.● This adds relational strains to the White household while both Walter and Skyler compete to be the provider.
Negative Rituals● “A partner may obsessively engage in work rituals to gain distance and avoid relational contact.” (119)● Skyler works long hours to avoid Walter at their home.● While working she develops a strong relationship with her boss and starts an affair.
Bibliography● Galvin, Kathleen M., Carma Lee Bylund, and Bernard J. Brommel. Family communication: cohesion and change. 8th ed. Boston: Pearson Allyn and Bacon, 2012. Print.