Archive for September, 2013


Last Friday, I took to Next Projection to air a grievance I’ve had with many of my favorite TV critics. From the New Yorker to Vulture, NPR to Huffington Post, the critics I read every week seem to have become fixated on a single topic: To convince “Breaking Bad” viewers that Walter White is a bad man and that those who continue to sympathize with him are either “Bad Fans” or blind “Team Walt” devotees. I think there’s another, simpler answer. You’ll find the first few paragraphs of my piece below. For the full article, head here.

Last week’s rattling episode of Breaking Bad has already inspired a small anthology’s worth of online criticism. This post attempts to dismantle one or the most prevalent arguments made in relation to that episode, and the show as a whole. It contains no actual spoilers.

The episode, “Ozymandias,” once again forces us to reassess how we feel about Walter White, the show’s slippery anti-hero. Much of the discussion has focused on an explosive phone call between Walt and Skyler. In reference to this specific scene, many of our finest TV critics have written recaps and tweets mocking those who continue to hold warm feelings for Mr. White. These viewers are “bad fans” who are “watching wrong,” says Emily Nussbaum of The New Yorker. They are the same simpletons who misinterpreted the ending of The Sopranos or thought that show had “not enough whackings,” says Matt Zoller Seitz and Mo Ryan. They are “freaking me out” says Linda Holmes of NPR. They are, quite simply, the “the worst of #BreakingBad fans,” says Alyssa Rosenberg.

There’s something amiss here, and it’s not just the obvious contempt these writers have for viewers with whom they disagree. In the eyes of these critics, Walter White supporters are either mindless thrill-seekers whose ideal version of Breaking Bad is a parade of Heisenberg outbursts, or they’re just morally dubious people who’ll rationalize any evil. The mere fact that they continue to identify with Walt suggests that there’s something wrong with them, either as viewers or as people…

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