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Breaking Bad, “Big Boy Pants”

In this scene from an early season of AMC’s Breaking Bad, Walter White’s teenaged son Flynn is attempting to pull on a pair of pants in a clothing store dressing room. Due to his cerebral palsy, Flynn’s father needs to assist in getting the pants on. As his parents hover over Flynn in front of the shop mirror, three teenagers loudly make fun of him for his speech and needed help. Walter White, who often feels emasculated in the early episodes of the show, seeks physical retribution on the bullies, while his son and wife look on.

discussion

How do we see and notice Flynn’s disability in this scene?

What do we learn about the challenges Flynn faces in relation to his disability? How do we see the emotional toll his disability takes (in his relationship with his parents as well as the bullies)?

What do you think the function of this scene is? Is it about Flynn or is it telling us something more about the other characters (specifically, his father and his father’s temper)?

Many actors who play disabled characters are able-bodied, but Flynn is played by RJ Mitte, who has had cerebral palsy since he was three years old. Is it important for disabled characters to be played by real disabled individuals? Why or why not?