Masculinity in Breaking Bad

Critical Perspectives

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About the Book

Following on author Peter Rollins’ motto “If it isn’t popular, it isn’t culture,” this collection of new essays considers Vince Gilligan’s award-winning television series Breaking Bad as a landmark of Western culture—comparable to the works of Shakespeare and Dickens in their time—that merits scholarly attention from those who would understand early the 21st century zeitgeist. The essayists explore the series as a critique of American concepts of masculinity, with Walter White discussed as a father archetype—provider, protector, author of a legacy—and as a Machiavellian warrior on the capitalist battleground. Other topics include the mutual exclusivity of intellect and masculinity in American culture, and the dramatic irony as White’s rationales for his criminal life are gradually revealed as a lie. In “round table” chapters, contributors discuss the show’s reception, fans who root for “Team Walt,” “Skyler-hating” and Breaking Bad as a feminist text.

About the Author(s)

Bridget Roussell Cowlishaw is currently writing as an independent scholar. She lives in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Bridget Roussell Cowlishaw
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 236
Bibliographic Info: bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2015
pISBN: 978-0-7864-9721-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1991-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Foreword (Robert G. Weiner) 1

Preface 5

Introduction 9

Family Man: Walter White and the Failure of Fatherhood

(Susan Johnston) 11

Western Men: Breaking Bad’s Outlaws and Family Men

(Ian Dawe) 33

Round Table Discussion: The Phenomenon of “Bad Fans”

and “Team Walt” 53

Intellectual Men: Masculinity Versus Intelligence

(Brian Cowlishaw) 63

Business Men: Breaking Bad’s Best Business Practices

(R. Nicholas Gerlich and Lori Smith Westermann) 88

Machiavellian Men: How Walter White Learns “Not to

Be Good” (Stephanie Stringer Gross) 110

Round Table Discussion: ­Skyler-Hating Online 132

Men of Legacy: Breaking Bad’s Solutions to Mortality

(Ian Dawe) 139

Men in Control: Panopticism and Performance

(Jeffrey Reid Pettis) 162

Round Table Discussion: Is Breaking Bad a Feminist Text? 193

Annotated Bibliography (Bridget Roussell Cowlishaw) 197

Episode List 219

About the Contributors 221

Index 223