Breaking Bad “Selling” to Pop Culture


The meth madness starts back on January 20, 2008. Breaking Bad is a TV series that ran on AMC network from 2008 until 2013 for 5 seasons. The story is about a high school chemistry teacher that finds out he has lung cancer and a short amount of time left to live. He decides to turn to a life of drug dealing to help provide for his family’s future. This show is the product of the genius mind of Vince Gilligan. It captivated audiences from the first episode.

The show created a wonderful play on moral dilemmas and mortality. When watching a show or a movie, our society tends to compare the characters decisions to what they would have done. Some times these decisions are not morally right. If you are able to confuse your audience, in a good way, where the moral line is blurred people tend to love that. It makes people really have to think and judge themselves as they judge the characters. Breaking Bad does an amazing job of this. I won’t go into to much detail as to not spoil the show for anyone who had not seen it yet. But every decision that takes place in this show, not only by our protagonist but also the antagonist, can create different feelings for everyone on what is right and wrong. The maturation of the Walter White’s character throughout the series has also kept the audiences captivated and helped to draw in more views.

I am personally ashamed that I cannot say I watched the show from day one; I caught up on Netflix before the start of the third season. But this is a huge reason it became so mainstream in our pop culture, even though the show has ended. In an article by Michael O’Connell he explains how Netflix really impacted the popularity of the show. “Breaking Bad premiered on Jan. 20, 2008, to a modest 1.41 million viewers. The show only cracked the 2 million mark on one occasion during the first four seasons, but critical acclaim and a streaming deal with Netflix saw more and more viewers get turned on to the drama.” Netflix itself has become a huge apart of our pop culture and has helped to bluster the number of shows that has become a part of pop culture, Breaking Bad being one of them. This also explained in a book by Jack Lule, he states, “Not only does the Internet allow little known individuals to potentially reach a huge audience with their art or opinions, but it also allows content-creators to reach fans directly. Projects that may have not succeeded as part of the established pop culture/mass media machine may get a chance in the digital world.” The show comes up in conversation with someone you know and you ask if they have seen it and if they haven’t the next question is, do you have Netflix? Netflix has become a very useful tool in progressing certain pop culture trends.

Since Breaking Bad has become a huge part of our current pop culture, they are capitalizing with great success in selling merchandise. If the show wasn’t so popular no one would care to buy the seasons on DVD or Blu-ray, shirts, show props, etc. Merchandising has only helped to expand the show. If someone who hasn’t seen the show sees someone else with Breaking Bad merchandise, they are curious about what it is from, and what it is about. Another affect that Breaking Bad in pop culture has had is for other people to imitate or make a spoof based on the show. When something is apart of our pop culture other people want to be able to capitalize on it as well.

With a show such as this, it seems that though the masses are more likely to take the advice of others on what shows are good and worth watching. In an article published by Linda Holmes she states “People absolutely make decisions about where to get information based on who understands and relates to them culturally. People absolutely decide they believe this person or that person based in part on whether they know anything about country music or hip-hop or hunting.” The same can be said for film and television. I myself am a film major and consider myself quite a film buff. I have a lot of friends that ask me about films, “have I seen this movie or that?” and, “What movie should I see?” Going off the advice I give them and what other people have told them, give them an idea on what they want to watch. I personally started watching Breaking Bad after a close friend, who has a lot of knowledge of films, suggested I watch the show. People make their decisions on what to watch, based on what their friends, family and critics are saying.

Society is always looking for the best and most interesting shows available at our fingertips and with how easy it is to get a hold of them this trend will never end. As long as our culture continues to be obsessed with moral dilemma and the topic of mortality then shows such as Breaking Bad will always come up even though the series has ended.

One thought on “Breaking Bad “Selling” to Pop Culture

  1. One of the things that I really admired about this show, was its ability to get right into that grey area of good and bad. The moral dilemmas of the characters of this show were well crafted enough that it was able to push viewers to the edge, wondering which option their favorite characters would choose. I only started watching this show after every season was on Netflix, and let me say I’m so glad I did it that way. If I had to wait a week between episodes and then months between seasons I would’ve lost it.

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