‘You Know the Business and I Know the Chemistry’: The Scientific Ethos of Breaking Bad

Ben Wetherbee, Stephanie Weaver


We conduct an analysis of the American television drama Breaking Bad as a show that resists the label of 'science fiction', while its use of scientific imagery and discourse create what we call a 'scientific ethos'. This essay explores the use of science as an appeal to intelligence and credibility in Breaking Bad. We include a theoretical discussion of how ethos emerges in serial television narratives, an analysis of the show's textual construction of its ethos, and a discussion of the intertexual and social effects of that ethos. Finally, we recommend the adoption of a rhetorical perspective in analysing how images of science circulate in fictional texts.

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