Family Relations in “Breaking Bad” TV Series


The family institution has been going through some major modifications within decades as people’s views have been broadcasted over time. Family structure has come a long way from being conservative when an official marriage was made between a man and a woman to being entirely liberal. Nowadays, in developed countries, people have a tendency not to rush with marriages and predominantly cohabitate.

I believe it happens not because of the interest loss to family institutions but mostly because humans became more selective, cautious, and attentive when picking up a life partner. Relationships can be harmonic, abusive, dependent, and of other different types. People face examples of these types daily on streets, restaurants, in their own homes, and on favorite TV shows. Popular series, books, and movies reflect the current issues in relationships and let us look at them from the side. In this assignment, I want to disclose family relations in the Breaking Bad TV series produced by American writer and director, Vince Gilligan.

The Family of White

The two families I want to describe and assess are the families of Walter White and Hank Schrader. Both men have a classical marriage and seem to be happy with their relations. However, after several episodes, it becomes clear that both men meet some challenges. Walter White, a 50-year-old man that works as a chemistry teacher at a high school in Albuquerque seems to the viewer miserable and tired from life. He is shy, unconfident, and quiet but not after breaking the law and becoming a drug dealer. Throughout all five seasons, we observe drastic changes in the man: Walter becomes decisive, ambitious, he is ready to risk, live, and face struggles.

Walter’s wife, Skyler, at the beginning of the show, takes a hidden leader position in the family by taking action in decision-making, planning the food preferences of all the family, and focusing on personal issues. When Skyler gets to know about the illegal business of her husband, she becomes afraid of him and calls him a criminal instead of providing support and listening ears. Passion, intimacy, and commitment are the major components of love, and during the show, Skyler showed neither of those three. Even though Walter has always aimed to provide for the family and take care of a decent future for his children, Skyler never tried to understand Walter and never gave him any emotions back. The relationship in the White family can be called cohabitant not from the terms of legal marriage but from the perspective of their integration.

Moreover, Walter’s transformation is an interesting moment that might have a deep psychological basis. All 50 years Walter lived feeling that someone is better, more successful, and rich. Walter also co-founded the company Gray Matter Technologies settled with his colleagues and friends, and later he sold his shares for $5,000 (Gilligan, Johnson & MacLaren, 2008-2013). During the show, the viewer realizes that the company soon after became successful, and the partners used Walter’s brilliant ideas making him leave the scene. With the constant thought of losing in life and being betrayed, I believe that the main character flourished in his new illegal business and felt significant, alive, and creative again. This deep drama stays uncovered until the end of the show and makes the viewer search in the deep corners of Walter’s soul for possible explanations.

From Kohlberg’s theory’s perspective, the main character has a very complex perception of moral values. It is harsh to estimate how Walter distinguishes between right and wrong; however, he indeed has moral values as he cares about the family and his dearest people. Walter picks up chemotherapy to keep his son and wife happy and save hope in them. Still, Walter breaks the law and becomes a criminal, and on Kohlberg’s scale takes step one, as he does what has to look right and wants to avoid punishment. Interestingly, even after being placed in the first step out of five, Walter cannot be called a man of low moral values.

The Family of Schrader

Hank is a total contrapositive character compared to Walt as he always stayed on the side of the law, was decent, well-trained, and aimed to put all the drug dealers in jail. Even when Shrader realizes that his brother-in-law is a criminal, he stays on the side of the law. Hank’s moral values are the ones described in books: strict, proper, and they can never be easily moved. On Kohlberg’s scale, Hank is at stage 5 as he believes that laws must be followed with no exceptions and all laws are good for all the community. Shrader’s wife, Mary, provides him with support and love, tries to reduce his stress, and is ready to be nearby during complicated times.

Hank also loves his wife even though he struggles to share his weak moments of panic attacks and depression with her. Mary closes similarly from her husband when she suffers from the mania of stealing things and presenting herself as different characters. The main issue in this relationship is the inability to grow together despite all difficulties. During these moments, both family members believe they can be strong enough by dealing with their condition by themselves.


Thus, the nets of interrelations inside the two families show the viewer the difficulties any relationship can face. The family of White lacked support, cooperation, teamwork, and sincerity from both sides. Skyler instead of choosing the path of blame and despise could have tried to understand her husband. The family of Schrader was more closely connected but lacked trust and reliance. No relationship can be ideal, but I believe people should tend to the harmony between them, try to deviate from personal orients to sacrifice for the partner and the family in general.


Gilligan, V., Johnson, M., & MacLaren, M. (Executive Producers). (2008-2013). Breaking Bad [TV series]. High Bridge Entertainment. Sony Pictures Television. Gran Via Productions.

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PsychologyWriting. 2022. "Family Relations in "Breaking Bad" TV Series." October 12, 2022.

1. PsychologyWriting. "Family Relations in "Breaking Bad" TV Series." October 12, 2022.


PsychologyWriting. "Family Relations in "Breaking Bad" TV Series." October 12, 2022.