In its five year run (2008-2013), AMC’s Breaking Bad was nominated for 240 awards and took home 94 wins. In addition, it has garnered a sizeable, active, and at times aggressive fan base. But what makes Breaking Bad so compelling? What can various critical lenses such as gender, race, national identity, sexuality, class, and disability do to unpack this complex and multifaceted series? What does the series have to say about contemporary masculinity? Fatherhood? Health care? Citizenship? The War on Drugs? Corporate culture? Race relations? What demands does the mix of episodic and multi-season serialized narrative make upon the viewer? How does the series both work within and subvert the codes of the gangster film, the western, and primetime melodrama? How does the program fit within AMC’s brand of ”quality” cinematic television? How do contemporary modes of spectatorship, such as repeat or ”binge viewing” through DVD or Netflix, affect the manner in which the show is constructed, styled, and disseminated? How do fans create their own distinct narratives and pleasures in ways not promoted, intended, or authorized by the showrunners?

Readings include:

Course texts: Breaking Bad, the complete series, is the primary text for this course.