Republicans in New Mexico are up in arms over a pair of new statues installed at the Albuquerque Convention Center that depict the fictional lead characters from the TV series “Breaking Bad.”
The show, which followed a high school chemistry teacher who turns to making meth to pay for his cancer treatment, was set and filmed in Albuquerque.
“I’m glad New Mexico got the business, but really?” Republican state representative Rod Montoya told Fox News on Monday while discussing the bronze statues of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman as played by Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul. “We’re going down the road of literally glorifying meth makers?”
Albuquerque-based conservative radio host Eddy Aragon was equally displeased by the sculptures. “It’s not the type of recognition we want for the city of Albuquerque, or for our state,” Aragon explained. “What you saw on ‘Breaking Bad’ should be a documentary, honestly,” he continued. “I think, really, that is the reality in New Mexico. We try to say it’s fictional, but that is the reality… we’ve joked that [‘Breaking Bad’] should be on PBS. That is, unfortunately, the reality.”
Referencing a recent decision by the state to remove a statue of the first Spanish governor of New Mexico, the conquistador Juan de Oñate, Aragon derided the move to put “fictional characters out in front.”
“We have Jesse Pinkman and, of course, Heisenberg, and we have now erected statues and our progressive mayor from the city of Albuquerque has stood behind them,” the talk radio host said, adding, “it’s OK to go get rid of real historical figures and now, somehow it’s even better, to [have] fictional, drug-dealing figures.”
“In all seriousness, no doubt some folks are going to say, ‘Wow, just what our city needed.’ And I get that. I see two of the finest actors America has ever produced. I see them, in character, as two larger-than-life tragic figures, cautionary tales.”
The statue backlash was seemingly predicted by none other than “Breaking Bad” creator Vince Gilligan, who spoke at the July 30 unveiling ceremony. “No doubt some folks are going to say, ‘Wow, just what our city needed.’ And I get that,” Gilligan said. “[But] I see two of the finest actors America has ever produced. I see them, in character, as two larger-than-life tragic figures, cautionary tales.”
Cranston and Paul also attended the statues’ big reveal, sharing how much the city of Albuquerque has meant to them over the years.
“I auditioned for ‘Breaking Bad,’ and it completely changed my life,” Paul said, as reported by Consequence TV. “So thank you so much, thank you to Albuquerque — my God, we were here for seven years on and off. It was such a huge part of my life; it still is.”
“We’re delighted, slightly embarrassed to have statues,” Cranston quipped of the bronze statues of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman. “There’s no preparation for saying you’re getting a statue. I’m just rather grateful that it’s indoors so that the pigeons won’t crap on our heads.”
At the event, Albuquerque’s mayor, Tim Keller, underlined how important “Breaking Bad” and its spin-off “Better Call Saul” (which also filmed there) have been economically, bringing the city nearly $400 million in production fees and tourism. “While the stories might be fictional… jobs are real every single day,” Keller remarked. “The city is also a character… We see ourselves in so many ways, good and bad.”
Vince Gilligan also dropped some huge news about the long-awaited introduction of Walt White and Jesse Pinkman to “Better Call Saul” during his speech.
“Spoiler alert, everybody. You’re hearing it first; no one else knows this yet,” Gilligan told the audience at the time. “This coming Monday night, if you happen to be watching the AMC network — and thanks to them as well — you might just see these two on the next ‘Better Call Saul’.”