Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul offer more of a storyline that is persistently popular in America – the deep exploration of guys gone bad. Let’s face it – America loves its fictional criminals.
Why? Could it be that America struggles with an overly aggressive moral code that makes rebellion stories so seductive? Is Better Call Saul the grown up version of the 50’s teen rebellion flick? Is Breaking Bad a riff on the doomed rebellion that Paul Newman played so well in Cool Hand Luke? Or are they Easy Rider without the hippie attire and acid? Or could it be that the amoral criminal better reflects a deep interest in winning at all costs? The dark side of James bond? Thomas Crown removed from Wall Street? I am not sure. Perhaps it is both.
Perhaps Gatsby distills this brew to its most inebriating level. We don’t really care how Gatsby got his enormous fortune. He has it and uses it to play for the highest stakes possible – true love. That game is played out on the individual level. Societal norms are secondary. And Gatsby takes us for one hell of a ride as he chases madly after Daisy. Not the real Daisy, but his dream of her. Or is it his dream of himself?
So perhaps in the end, these stories are really just about adrenilin and motivation. They are as related to Tony Robbins events as they are to Tom Sawyer trickery. What motivates doesn’t matter. But we love seeing what happens after the hero sips some firewater and gets everyone all worked up!