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Is Breaking Bad science fiction?

  1. Dec 27, 2012 #1
    It contains a lot of science references and is clearly fiction. How should we pidgeonhole it?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 28, 2012 #2
    The Mexican Cartel would never hire an American
  4. Dec 28, 2012 #3


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    It's borderline. The science does sometimes become integral to the plot.
  5. Dec 28, 2012 #4


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    Personally I wouldn't class it as science fiction because the most wide spread understanding of science fiction is that it concerns speculative science and technology.
  6. Dec 28, 2012 #5
  7. Dec 28, 2012 #6
    A lot of the organic chemistry is incorrect. I remember an episode when they mentioned about derivatizing a reagent via double amination (I believe that was the process mentioned). I asked a department organic chemist about the synthesis, he told me he watches the show religiously and a great deal of the organic chemistry is misleading for obvious reason.

    Then again, it doesn't take too much effort to search on the synthesis of synthetics drugs.
  8. Dec 28, 2012 #7


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    Gold Member

    Yeah, but bad science is not science fiction even though a lot of science fiction has bad science.
  9. Dec 29, 2012 #8
    I know zilch about OC but alway assumed the cooking scenes were deliberately inaccurate.
  10. Dec 29, 2012 #9
    Well it's not completely correct but there are many right things in breaking bad, I mean, people really need pseudoephedrine and phosphorous to make meth. It can also be done with methylamine and so on...
    They show how hard it is to obtain some chemicals, unlike things like Fight Club where one character that makes nitroglycerine has some complicated scheme to obtain glycerine, which is a cheap and easy to get chemical and you could buy a gallon at your local market, while the hard thing would be the nitric acid and he makes no mention of it.
    The details are obviously misleading, like there is no reason for it to be blue just because it's more pure...
  11. Jan 1, 2013 #10


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    The idea is some gimmick that allows the average consumer to judge the purity of the product. If there were some trick that would do that in the real world, the product would definitely be preferable to products where the quality was difficult to evaluate; where the buyer relied solely on the honesty of the seller (the honesty of a seller in a criminal transaction, which can happen, I suppose).

    The marketing principle is real, but the science behind a blue product is fictional.

    Likewise, the train robbery is ingenious in theory, but how did those guys get so good at making the connections/disconnections, managing the hoses, etc? Where and how did they practice that? And if you're rapidly filling the tank while rapidly draining the tank and creating convection currents, won't they be draining a diluted chemical?

    There's obviously a lot of holes in the details. But it's a fun show none the less.

    Especially magnets! Magnets are always fun!
  12. Jan 1, 2013 #11
    Of course it's somewhat inaccurate, but I think compared to the majority of shows out there it does a really good job at trying to stay within the bounds of reality/believability.
  13. Jan 1, 2013 #12


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    It's worth pointing out that breaking bad is not a story about science any more than band of brothers is a story about guns. It's an integral plot device that frames a lot of what can, will and should happen but ultimately it's a framing device for the real story: a sick man worried about his family trying to make sure they will be ok after his death, even if that means engaging in criminal activities. The interest comes in the conflict and debate surrounding this situation and the unforeseen effects like becoming more involved in the criminal world than he ever wanted.

    You could swap the science out of breaking bad for something else and get essentially the same story e.g rather than drugs have him be a fraud expert making forgeries, a games tester rigging things at casinos, a security expert planning bank robberies etc. However take away the sickness, the family, the money worries and it becomes something significantly different.
  14. Mar 28, 2013 #13
    My thoughts as well. It's not as if they're just going to show you how to make meth on TV.

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