‘Breaking Bad’ Statues of Walter White, Jesse Pinkman Have Some New Mexico Residents Ticked

by Alex Falls

Breaking Bad will certainly go down in TV history as one of the most acclaimed shows in the history of the medium. Recently, the show was memorialized in the city where it takes place: Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Two bronze statues were unveiled at the Albuquerque New Mexico Convention Center last month. They detail the likenesses of the famed chemistry teacher turned drug lord. Bryan Cranston’s Walter White, and his trusted associate and former student, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul).

Despite being one of the highest-praised TV shows of all time, not all Albuquerque residents are thrilled about the statues. Albuquerque-based talk radio host and former mayoral candidate for the city Eddy Aragon believes average Americans don’t realize how close the show comes to reality.

He told Fox News, “I think what you saw on Breaking Bad should be a documentary, honestly. I think, really, that is the reality in New Mexico. We try to say it’s fictional, but that is the reality, the Jesse Pinkman, the Heisenbergs, the man who is running everything, Gus [Fring], and the way that they’re bringing it in from Mexico is exactly the way that it is right now, so we’ve joked that it should be on PBS,” Aragon said. “That is, unfortunately, the reality.”  

‘Breaking Bad’ Statues Under Fire

Aragon said he thinks the statues are hypocritical. According to him, he saw protesters in his town call for the removal of statues honoring George Washington and Thomas Jefferson because of their connection to slaves during their time. But he believes erecting statues of fictional drug dealers sends an even worse precedent.

“Now we have brand-new statues,” Aragon said. “Now we’re putting 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. We’re funding those, so it’s OK to go get rid of real historical figures and now, somehow it’s even better, to [have] fictional, drug-dealing figures.”

Vince Gilligan, the creator of Breaking Bad and co-creator of its spinoff Better Call Saul, helped fund the statues. He said at the time he realized the new statues could be viewed as sending the wrong message amidst the ongoing opioid crisis in America.

Aragon is one of the most outspoken critics of the statues. He admits the shows have brought newfound attention to Albuquerque. But he fears the media’s coverage of the statues could be sending the wrong message. A message that the city condones the behavior of the fictional drug kingpins.

“It’s not the type of recognition we want for the city of Albuquerque, or for our state,” Aragon said.