Obamacare Could Have Saved Walter White

‘Breaking Bad’ would have been a different story in a world with Obamacare.

Anna Gunn and Bryan Cranston play Skyler and Walter White in AMC's "Breaking Bad." (Courtesy AMC)Breaking Bad’s lead may have met a different fate had he been covered under Obamacare.

By March 13, 2014Leave a Comment SHARE
USNews & World Report  —  Thomas Jefferson Street Blog

This week, President Obama and comedian Zach Galifianakis appeared on the web comedy show “Between Two Ferns” – a big score for Zach and a big gamble for the president.

There wasn’t much to lose for Galifianakis; whatever happened, he gets plenty of attention. But for the president, it could have been quite the unscripted moment and a bit terrifying. Yet, as of today, more than 14.5 million views have been recorded.

And, more important for the president and the Affordable Care Act, his signature health care law, there has been a huge bump in the critical target of young people visiting the law’s website. According to ABC News, the “Galifianakis interview appears to be driving the demographic to the site in record numbers … beating out Google, WhiteHouse.gov and Twitter.”

[Read blogger Susan Milligan on Obama’s “Between Two Ferns” appearance.]

That brings me to the next big time creative idea. I was teaching a remarkable group of foreign students at George Washington University this week, all of them from a special program put together by the University of Navarra in Spain. They are some of the best and brightest political, advertising and PR minds from Latin America and Europe.

They are given various topics to explore while they are here in the U.S., including the law and the politics of health care. The assignment I gave them was to come up with three key messages for their position, two ideas for television ads and a social media strategy and plan.

I was nearly blown away when one of the student groups put forth a brilliant idea for using the television show “Breaking Bad” as a launch pad for the health care law. It would incorporate the actors in the series, especially Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, to make the point (with humor of course) that “if Walter White had Obamacare he wouldn’t have had to be cooking meth to pay his medical bills!” (A cartoon about how White would have been treated by the U.K. health care system has been making the rounds on the Internet for months.)

[See a collection of political cartoons on Obamacare.]

Can you imagine the ads going viral with the cast playing off one another? Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman: “Just think what a nice guy I could have been if I didn’t get involved with Mr. White and his scheme — how different it would have been if he had coverage under Obamacare!” Or how about Anna Gunn as Skyler White: “Obamacare would have saved our marriage!”

The possibilities are endless. The “Breaking Bad” theme could be translated into “Breaking Good, with Obamacare.”

After all, so far we have seen Lance Bass, Lady Gaga, Amy Poehler, Taye Diggs, Pharrell Williams and Kerry Washington of “Scandal” plugging the healthcare.gov website and the hash tag #getcovered.

[Check out our editorial cartoons on President Obama.]

Just imagine what a great response the president would get if he convinced the “Breaking Bad” team to join the effort. All in all, a great idea from a great group of students — all from other countries!



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  • Peter Fenn

    Peter Fenn is a Democratic political strategist and head of Fenn Communications, one of the nation’s leading political and public affairs media firms. Fenn Communications has worked in over 300 campaigns, from presidential to mayoral, and has represented a number of Fortune 500 companies. Fenn is also an adjunct professor at George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management. Follow him on Twitter: @peterhfenn.