I recently came across a web-comic that satirised the premise of Breaking Bad. The gist of it is that Breaking Bad would never work in a country with free healthcare, since Walter White’s impetus for selling drugs is to cover the exorbitant cost of his cancer treatment.
Now this is arguably an oversimplification, but it is funny nonetheless and does illustrate how neoliberalism is often a driving force behind films and series. This is especially so if the media in question is a US-based production where the liberal ideology of individual choice, meritocracy, and pulling oneself up by their bootstraps is firmly entrenched in the larger social consciousness. In the US, you are the master of your own fate, and you don’t need a handout. Now while it might not, at first glance, appear to be the case with the Saw franchise, the series has a deeply entrenched philosophy of aggressive individualism that covertly celebrates liberalism and glosses over systemic and societal factors underpinning many social ills.