Popular Culture Review Vol. 24, No. 2, Summer 2013 - Page 108

104 Populär Culture Review beyond” (75). W ithin six month before death, a typical cancer patient can incur a mean o f $74,212 OOP expenses via both inpatient and outpatient Services (Chastek et. al. 77). These Undings are congruent with the social strain illustrated in Breaking Bad. W alter receives his first medical bill in the mail for “$13,000 and counting” three days after his first treatment, and he quickly estimates that he will eventually accrue $90,000 OOP expenditures as a result o f his recent diagnosis (“Breakage”). W alter’s terminal cancer and OOP expenditures ultimately give him a grim outlook towards his future and foster negative emotions towards the social structure. In a pivotal scene in the series, W alter waits at Oncology Partners New M exico as a receptionist prints out his extensive bill. W alter, seemingly shocked by the cost o f his treatment, questions whether his cash payment discounts have been applied. Emasculated and ashamed, he is quickly told by the receptionist that they indeed have and that various payment plans are available to reduce the financial bürden o f treatment. As W alter walks away in disbelief, the receptionist hands him a button with the phrase, “Hope is the best m edicine” written across its face. W alter subsequently leaves his oncologist, looks down at the message, smirks, and tosses the button in the trash (“Breakage”). This scene is interesting, because Breaking Bad presents a society depleted o f any hope for conventionally achieving an individual’s basic needs. Instead, a socially strained individual— as presented in the series— must cope through criminal channels in an effort to maintain financial stability. In addition to economic strain, W alter’s debilitating cancer treatments greatly contend with his conceptions o f hegemonic masculinity. As a consequence o f his condition, he perceives his life as series o f cruel choices that he has not been permitted to make and worries that the emaciated cancer patient will be the man his family remembers following his death— a man “too sick to work, enjoy a meal, make love” (“Gray Matter”). L.M. W enger argues that there are many intersections between gender strain and illness, and that many male cancer patients struggle with the transition from independence to a subordinate role: a man that strives to present him self “as one who is independent, unrestrained, and strong, as one who does fo r others (as opposed to with others) contrasts with performance Standards associated with subordinate masculinities and idealized femininities including passiveness, dependence, compliance, connectedness, and vulnerability” (397). W alter’s poor health, in combination with his financial struggles,