Why Do Walt and Skyler Still Have an Answering Machine?

A blog about business and economics.
Sept. 17 2013 8:56 AM

Why Do Walt and Skyler Still Have an Answering Machine?


One question lingering after Sunday night's Breaking Bad—why do Walt and Skyler still have that old-fashioned, plot-friendly answering machine?

Yes, it's true that the show is set a few years back in the past. But even back in November 2008 people were asking "does anyone still use an answering machine as a telephone recording device or is voice mail it?" On the other hand, AT&T seems to have released a new model of digital answering machine just last year and people are enthusiastic about it. There's actually some weird corner of the universe full of answering machine enthusiasts who've just been waiting for the right one to come on the market. 


Here's what Bob Blum had to say in his review of the ATT 1740:

5 stars for the ATT 1740. It's perfect. (I paid 17 bucks at Radio Shack, but I see that it's even cheaper here.) I was particularly thrilled because there were a number of Amazon reviews that panned its predecessor, the ATT 1739. All the bad stuff they said about the 1739 is groundless. 1) The sound quality is superb, 2) the setup and button layout is easy, 3) you CAN intercept calls (that is, YOU CAN DO CALL SCREENING - that's a key reason to have an answering machine), 4) the unit's interaction with my telephone is flawless (no feedback). This is all based only on my unit, but it's so good, that if it were to stop working in 6 months, I'd just go buy another one.

And he makes a good point, there is something delightful about old-school call screening (as the song says: no matter who calls / I screen my phone calls) that's lost through reliance on caller ID.  

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.



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