While audiences in the US and the UK entered a state of mourning as Breaking Bad’s Walter White died alone in a meth lab, the show has been sold to Columbia’ Teleset and Sony Pictures Television for cocaine cowboy territory. Soon Latin America will be enjoying the story of Walter Blanco (Walter White) and his rise to the top of the meth heap.
10.3 million fans of the Vince Gilligan AMC five-season show tuned in for the show’s finale. When the camera pulled back from the body of “Heisenberg” laying in the middle of a pool of blood to music from Badland, the 1972 song Baby Blue, fans sighed as television history ended.
But now, Walter White will be reincarnated as a Latino in a Telenovela that will follow the course of Walter “Blanco” in one long run versus five seasons. The show will be a frame by frame remake of the popular American show, with very few changes. The first most obvious will be the shows title; Breaking Bad will be Metastasis in Colombia.
The idea that a show dealing with a dying chemistry teacher’s rise as a meth kingpin in the land of the “cocaine cowboys,” who came to power in the 1980’s in America, holds a delicious irony. An irony not lost to the Colombian producers of the Breaking Bad remake.
While the producers are excited about the story of the mild mannered “Wilbur Milquetoast” high school chemistry teacher who decides to leave a monetary legacy for his family after his death through the manufacture of meth, they were concerned about the show’s successful transfer. In Latin America, cocaine is the largest drug produced and imported.
Colombia took over as the cocaine capital of the world beginning in the 1970’s and they took over distribution in American in the 1980’s. Nicknamed the Colombian Cowboys, the cocaine cartels were infamous for their unforgiving brutality and violence. North American police forces were shocked and initially unprepared for their migration north of the border. Breaking Bad will be entering their territory with a few changes, although the manufactured product will not change.
Andrea Marulanda, the executive producer of Metastasis, said that they did have reservations about following the show’s plot line so closely. It seemed that the idea of building a meth empire in the middle of the “cocaine capital of the world” struck everyone as being a bit nonsensical. But Andrea said that they researched the issue of methamphetamine being produced outside of Mexico and the US, where it is much more prevalent. Apparently meth has become very popular in Colombia, Marulanda revealed that the drug has grown in popularity over the last two years in her country.
The producer went on to say the when their version of Breaking Bad airs in one year’s time, the drug will most likely be even more popular.
While some media outlets have been promoting the idea that the only thing that will change in the Latino version of the show will be Walter’s last name, there will be a few more fundamental changes. Walter’s and Jesse’s RV mobile lab will become a school bus. Because apparently RV’s are not as popular in Colombia as they are in the US or Mexico. In fact recreational vehicles are so rare that rather than “blending in” they would cause quite a bit of excitement as a curiosity.
Producers of Metastasis worked with Vince Gilligan on any changes that they wanted, or needed, to make with the creator. The last change was the income level of the high school chemistry teacher. In the US, he was planted right in middle-class. In Colombia, teachers are low paid and don’t enjoy such an elevated lifestyle.
One change will be with the show’s run. Metastasis will not be drug out over five seasons. The show will run over a three month time period that with all the show’s episodes running chronologically. Breaking Bad will be just another of a long list of US television shows that Sony has adapted for other cultures. Married with Children is just one example of an American hit show changed for another country, one of which was Colombia.
So if fans of the AMC Breaking Bad verse of Walter White and his adventures in the meth trade want to see the Colombian cocaine cowboy version they will have to wait till 2014 and move down to the cocaine capital’s territory to watch it.
By Michael Smith