How American Crime Drama 'Prison Break' Significantly Changed My Life...

I'll be honest, I'm not exactly an avid TV watcher.

Sure, there are a lot of shows that I thoroughly enjoy, but there's something about my 'all or nothing' personality that seemingly cannot grasp the concept of casual television viewing.

Either, I'm so invested in the show that I become consumed by particular stories/characters, or I really struggle to connect with the narrative, consequently giving up halfway through episode one.

As you can see from the title of this article, American crime drama Prison Break fell firmly into the former category for me, but in a way that no other show has ever done before.

Of course, writing this, I'm aware that some people won't have seen Prison Break.

I'm also aware that a lot of people will come to my website to understand their own emotions, not to read all about mine.

But, the things I learned from this show are most definitely worth sharing, and the changes in my mindset that have occurred because of it are changes that I sincerely believe could benefit so many others.

You certainly don't need to have watched the show for you to read this article, although I will say that, if you do plan on watching it, there's a good chance that this is going to include some *spoilers*.

Other than that, it's just going to be me trying to convince you all that protagonist Michael Scofield is our generation's answer to the Son of God.

(I'm kidding.)

(Kind of.)

But, the point still stands.

Fictional characters and their stories? They can have an impact - the real and life-changing kind - and I'm very much willing to die on that hill.

But, first of all, let me tell you why Prison Break had that very impact on me...

1) Michael Scofield's relentless pursuit of the truth.

For those of you who haven't seen the show, the protagonist gets himself purposely arrested in order to break his brother out of prison. The latter is serving time on death row for a crime he didn't commit, which is revealed over time to be one branch of a huge Government conspiracy.

Scofield's elaborate plan sees him stop at absolutely nothing to unveil the truth. He has a vision of how things should be, a belief in what is right, and those are the very things that he lives for.

I think being passionate is so important; I feel things incredibly deeply, whatever that feeling may be, and there are a lot of people in this world who will try to minimise those feelings.

But, Michael Scofield faces ninety episodes worth of hurdles, complications and doubts, and yet he continues to follow what his heart so strongly believes is right.

He continues to follow his truth.

Prison Break taught me that not everything is as it seems, and if you have your heart set on something, if you so strongly believe in a cause - don't let anyone steer you from that path.

2) The Protagonist's Friendship with Fernando Sucre.

In the first season of the show, Scofield has no choice but to befriend the cellmate that he is given; after all, said cellmate is an inevitable part of the escape plan, regardless of whether they want to be or not.

But, what is initially a bond of convenience soon becomes a story of loyalty, trust and brotherhood, and their friendship is prominent throughout the entirety of the show.

A particularly poignant moment occurs during the second season in which Sucre finds himself in imminent, life-threatening danger as the escapees run from the authorities. Encouraging Michael to leave him behind, he says this:

They say people come into your life for a reason. Maybe my reason was to help you break out of Fox River (prison) help you save your brother.

But, Michael ignores him, with neither individual willing to jeopardise the other's chance of freedom.

I've never really believed that blood is always thicker than water. In fact, I wouldn’t be the person that I am today if it wasn’t for the friendships I’ve established in my lifetime so far.

The bond between these two characters taught me so much about the importance of those we surround ourselves with, and the difference it can make to have a friend that we can rely on.

On the nights I felt lonely as I was watching the show, their friendship became my friendship.

And, sometimes, that was enough.

3. The show’s focus on the invaluable nature of our freedom.

I find that a lot of things in this life can make us feel claustrophobic, often compromising the freedom that we are told we have as adults.

There's always an element of expectation placed upon our shoulders, whether that may be doing well in school, getting a bog-standard "good" job, surrounding ourselves with particular people, even becoming a particular person.

But, what if what we want from our life doesn't align with that of which is expected of us? What if the future we envisage for ourselves is something different, something out of the ordinary, and we don't like the path that we're put on?

Well, before watching Prison Break, I would've responded with a feeble 'that's life', thinking adulthood was all about prioritising responsibilities and becoming the person that others wanted me to be, not the person that I wanted to be.

"We are captives of our own identities" as the notorious Theodore Bagwell says in season four, "living in prisons of our own creations."

But, every single character in that show faces their own fight for freedom, and some of them die trying.

I realise that we cannot change who we are, nor can we change the past that we leave behind, but we can try to change the life that lies ahead of us.

We can find our very own freedom, be it physical, mental, or both.

We owe ourselves that.

4. The recurring symbol of the Origami Crane Bird.

Throughout the entirety of the show, Scofield is seen folding origami birds and leaving them for others to find, often with a message enclosed.

Particularly throughout the second season, Michael sends a lot of these paper symbols to Sara Tancredi, the prison doctor who aided Scofield's escape (and simultaneously fell in love with him, of course), as a means of communication.

It became a major part of the show's image, and we find out in episode 16x01 that Lincoln, Michael's brother, used to leave them for Michael when they were younger, usually to let him know that he was looking out for him.

Upon googling the crane, I stumbled across it's huge importance within Japanese culture, and it's said that the wings of the bird are believed to ''carry souls up to paradise."

This website is just one of the many ways that I've carried the origami bird forward into my own life, almost like taking Scofield's legacy with me wherever I go. The crane is my symbol of hope; a reminder to pursue my own truth, to follow my own path.

It even made a mark on my first real experience with losing a loved one (which you can read about here), and if that isn't something to connect me with it forever, I don't know what is.

Below, I've uploaded some photographs showing the different ways that I keep the origami crane bird with me in my life. This includes possessions/creations of my own, as well as gifts/drawings I've received from other wonderful people.

5. The prominent message to always keep our faith.

I've never been a particularly religious person, but I've always believed in something, and it seems to be that very something that keeps the protagonist going throughout Prison Break, too.

There's a scene in which Sara Tancredi asks Scofield if he truly believes that they can get their old life back, one day. His reply?

I choose to have faith, because without that I have nothing.

Our minds hold so much power, and sometimes our belief in something - a God, the Universe, fate, someone else, or even ourselves - is all we've got.

And, Prison Break taught me that it's enough, too.

Scofield's character becomes somewhat mythologised towards the end of the show, with the final series making a lot of subtle references to infamous Greek mythology.

Michael's journey is said to represent that of Odysseus in Homer's epic and timeless poem 'the Odyssey', and that journey is often driven by pure faith.

Faith that, one day, his truth would prevail and he would make it back home.

And, that 'home' could be anywhere, anyone, anything - for any of us.

A lot of really terrible stuff happens in this world, that cannot be denied. We face our own demons and hurdles, we witness a lot of injustice and cruelty, and we experience feelings of helplessness as we realise how little we can do about it.

I'm not ashamed to say that, in the past, I've been in a pretty dark place with my own feelings of helplessness, of there being nothing more.

I'm also not ashamed to say that a TV show was the beginning of my healing process.

Now, I believe that we are capable of anything, so long as we put our minds to it.

We can leave our own legacy.

With resilience. With friendship. With faith.

Be the change you want to see in the world.


County Durham, United Kingdom

© 2020 this japanese crane - chloe nattrass.