Breaking Bad & the Mediated Public Sphere

The public sphere is known as a metaphor for thinking about how individual human beings come together to exchange ideas, information and feelings (Mckee 2005). There’s always some sort of debate going on within it, as there’s constantly new media texts being released to provoke these issues.

Breaking bad started in 2008, the story of Walter White, a struggling high school chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer at the beginning of the series. He turns to a life of crime, producing and selling methamphetamine, in order to secure his family’s financial future, teaming with his former student, Jesse Pinkman ( This TV show, during the 5 years of broadcast, created a few debates within the mediated public sphere. It contains a lot of drug use, and some would argue that it normalizes the idea of methamphetamine (Ewing 2013), making it more common and known of throughout the public sphere. This can become problematic, as many individuals feel as though Breaking Bad somewhat encourages drug use. In areas surrounding Mexico during the 5 years when breaking bad was aired, the amount of seized meth increased significantly (Spivack 2013). According to Braiker (2013) ‘meth never had better marketing’.

It not only normalizes drug use, but also in some ways glorifies the lifestyle of drug dealers or drug ‘lords’. It displays just how much money is involved in the drug industry, for example in this clip from season 5. (the final season). 

However, it still shows the other side of drugs. The life of a drug addict is portrayed as anything but glorious, mainly through one character, Wendy, for example in this clip from season 1. 

Therefor, I think that Breaking Bad’s influence on the public sphere is up for interpretation. Some may find it offensive or distasteful, but others, like me, find it interesting, educating, and quite eye-opening. I feel as though we should not worry about the effect of texts that refer to drug use or violence have on the public sphere. I believe that every choice you make is a personal decision, and if you decide to be a drug addict, drug dealer, or violent in any way, then the media is not to blame. This idea links back to one of my previous posts, where I also spoke about Breaking Bad (yes, I’m a huge BB fan…). You can find this here.


 Reference List:

Turnbull, S 2014, BCM110 lecture 5 media myth busting: big brother is watching you, 1st April, University of Wollongong, Autumn semester, 2014.

McKee, A 2005, The public sphere: an introduction, Cambridge University Press. 

Breaking bad 2013,, viewed 6 April 2014, <>

Ewing, B 2013, ‘Breaking bad’ normalises meth use, argues prosecuteor, Time, viewed 6 April 2014, <>

Spivack, C 2013, Breaking bad influences mexican drug cartel activity, Mount holyoke news, viewed 6 April 2014, <>

Braiker, B 2013, Was ‘breaking bad’ good for the meth business?, Digiday, viewed 6 April 2014, <>

SonyPicturesDVD 2013, Breaking bad: the fifth season- ‘how much is enough?’, online video, 28 May, Youtube, viewed 7 April 2014, <>

Wendy’s pearly whites breaking bad 2013, online video, 16 April, Youtube, viewed 7 April 2014, <>

Further reading:

Breaking Bad facts: 30 things you didn’t know-

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3 Responses to Breaking Bad & the Mediated Public Sphere

  1. ecmercer says:

    Hello Renae 🙂 For me personally I think your blog has done a great job in expressing your thoughts on the public sphere in terms of the TV show Breaking Bad. I for one personally love this TV series it does market meth very well to which you perfectly found a quote for. I totally agree with you as anyone can be a drug addict, drug dealer, or can be violent in any way, so its not necessarily the media to blame…all the time.

  2. kstratton95 says:

    I’m loving the use of Breaking Bad as the example in this post. I think it fits perfectly with the whole argument you’ve constructed, and gets across the whole idea of the public sphere perfectly. The video accompaniment jut add that extra wow factor and engagement to your post, and it allows people who haven’t watched the show to connect with what you’re saying. This is such a well constructed blog post, keep it up!

  3. Dream-ing- says:

    HI~I think “Breaking Bad” is a very good example for this weekly topic. Your post structure is clear and easy to understand. I agree the final discussion, human being have enough intellect to differentiate right and wrong. We can’t just blame it to media

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