A review of Eric San Juan’s “Breaking Down Breaking Bad: Unpeeling the Layers of Television’s Greatest Drama”

This is a clearly written, thoughtful and engaging labour of love by a huge fan of the show.

It’s grounded, intelligent, and informative.  It is structured around general overviews of each of the five seasons, that bring out the key themes and events of each season, how their tone differs from the others, and insights from the creative team behind the show, the cast, and fan community.

In between these season guides are short essays on key aspects, themes and characters in the show.  So for example there’s a chapter on the unholy father/son relationship between Walter and Jesse, a response to the backlash in the fan community to the character of Skyler “I fucked Ted” White, an insight into the mind and history of Gustavo Fring, how Jesse Pinkman becomes the moral centre of the show, and more.

Eric San Juan comes across as a fan and writer with a strong moral sensibility, which helps him to appreciate the deeper themes in the show, and comes across in his defence of Skyler, his appreciation of Jesse’s character development towards profound moral conviction, and his distaste for Walter White.

All of this would have been all very well but still a chore if the book was not well written.  But it is.  It’s a short book that contains a great deal.  A recommended commentary on the dark universe of “Breaking Bad.”