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An Academic Look At Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad has been one of the most popular shows over the last few years and one I personally love.  This intrigue has garnered plenty of literature about the show all over the place.  Whether they are scholars debating the deeper meanings of the show, or critics reviewing it for the popular public, it is almost impossible to escape article related to AMC’s recently completed show.

However there are certain differences in the articles depending on their intended purpose.  Comparing Verne Gays’s article AMC Hit Breaking Bad Returns For Fifth Season and Jon Lafayette article AMC Pursues A Good Break it is easy to notice their difference in style.  To begin with Lafayette’s article was written for a journal on television which is why it contains more technical terms whereas Gay’s article was meant to for a newspaper and to inform the general public, not those with a background in television.  Lafayette talks about ratings and shares as well as profit margins and revenue growth, not topics usually covered in your newspapers television reviews.  Gay on the other hand used less technical knowledge and mentioned the main actors by name due to there stature with the general public.

They both diverged in terms of purpose of their articles.  Lafayette took the approach of examining the shows success by dissecting the numbers.  He talked about the increase in ratings and share while also looking at the production cost and the return profit.  The section about advertisers surprisingly not being deterred by the mature nature of the content is not something that would fit in a newspaper article, in this journal entry it fit perfectly and was one of my favorite parts.    This is much different then Gay’s article which is an opinion piece promoting the show.  While providing us with a brief summary with some quotes and scenes the author begins to express their biased for the show when they say things such as, “What makes Bad so good?” and than answering with a whole plethora of reasons.  They both do a good job of targeting their audience and creating content for respective readers.

Although both of these articles came in around the 900 word range, this was one of the longer popular articles and the shortest academic article I could find.  I saw a few popular articles that were no more than a paragraph while other shows had entire academic books written about them.  I think the only reason their are not a vast number of in-depth analysis is because Breaking Bad only recently ended.  Most of the research is ongoing and I would expect to see plenty of books published on this wonderful show.  Both articles were also released around the beginning of new seasons, although Gay’s article was the only one that was tied into the release.  Gay’s popular article had to be released before the new season began because the entire point of the article was to promote this season. Lafayette’s article simply released around the season premiere because it was piggy backing off of the publicity the show was already receiving and benefited from the amount of scholars looking into literature on the new up and coming show, Breaking Bad.

Both articles are great at accomplishing that which they set out to accomplish.  Lafayette provides examples on top of examples to show you why Breaking Bad is one of the most successful cable shows to date.  Gay on the other hand does a wonderful job of painting the picture of what Breaking Bad is, and getting readers excited and engaged in the show.  It is good to understand who your audience is and what they are looking for and both of these authors considered that heavily in their works.

Denzel Freeman

Lafayette, J. (2009). AMC pursues a good break. TelevisionWeek, 28(6), 3-3,25. Retrieved from

Gay, V. (2012, Jul 14). Bad men; AMC hit breaking bad returns for fifth and final season. Calgary Herald. Retrieved from

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This entry was posted on January 26, 2015 by in Denzel Freeman, Reviews, Television and tagged , , , , , , , .


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