Tag Article List: Classical Conditioning

Nature vs. Nurture in Albuquerque: What Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul Teach Us About How We Talk About Criminals

Max Romanowski
Baylor University
Waco, TX, USA
max_romanowski@baylor.edu

Abstract

Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul focus on the criminal transformation of their two main characters, Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk). While quite similar on the surface, Walter and Jimmy’s narratives represent two different criminal transitions, evoking the classic nature vs nurture conversation. Both of these shows bring the conversation to the idea of inevitability. The nature vs. nurture argument is a popular one because it acts as a teaching tool for how we think and talk about criminal behavior. At first, it follows that since criminality was in Walter White’s nature the whole time, his transition should feel the most inevitable, with the inverse being true of Jimmy. However, since Better Call Saul is a prequel to Breaking Bad, the opposite ends up happening. Even though Jimmy may only need the right people around him to be saved from his descent, his presence as Saul Goodman on Breaking Bad reminds the audience that it is Jimmy who is already fated to become a criminal. This dichotomy highlights the distinctive pedagogical opportunity present in both of these shows. Through their subversion of the concepts of nature and nurture, they allow for a unique teaching opportunity regarding how we talk about criminals. This article explores what they teach us and how their commentary can be used as a pedagogical tool for learning about criminal behavior in more nuanced ways. 

Keywords: Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, Nature, Nurture, Social Learning Theory, Classical Conditioning 

 

Author Bio

Max Romanowski is a doctoral student at Southern Illinois University in the Department of Mass Communication and Media Arts. His research interests include television studies, particularly the sitcom, developments of new media, and science fiction in the 21st century.

 

Suggested Citation

APA:
Romanowski, M. (2019). Nature vs. Nurture in Albuquerque: What Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul teach us about how we talk about criminals. 6(2). Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy. http://journaldialogue.org/issues/v6-issue-2/nature-vs-nurture-in-albuquerque-what-breaking-bad-and-better-call-saul-teach-us-about-how-we-talk-about-criminals/

MLA:
Romanowski, Max. “Nature vs. Nurture in Albuquerque: What Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul Teach Us About How We Talk about Criminals”. Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy, vol.6, no. 2, 2019. http://journaldialogue.org/issues/v6-issue-2/nature-vs-nurture-in-albuquerque-what-breaking-bad-and-better-call-saul-teach-us-about-how-we-talk-about-criminals/

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