Faith Pop Culture TV

The Gospel According to Breaking Bad by Blake Atwood

Don’t miss my StoryMen interview with author Blake Atwood!

Gospel According to Breaking Bad
Click to get the NEW print edition on Amazon!
(or the eBook)

Now that the dust has settled, it’s clear that Breaking Bad will go down in history as one of the great television shows of all time (though it’s still not quite The Wire). Creator and show runner Vince Gilligan (of X-Files fame) made meticulous attention to detail, tight plotting and unparalleled art direction the order of the day. Use all that to weave an all-too-believable tale about an everyman who transforms into a drug lord, and you have a clear (and difficult to duplicate) recipe for Breaking Bad’s success.

From the beginning, Gilligan has been an open book when it comes to Breaking Bad’s guiding philosophy. He built Breaking Bad in a universe with clear moral compass: in Gilligan’s words, Actions Have Consequences. This carefully maintained karmic framework makes Breaking Bad singular, particularly among highly-rated television these days. Shows like The Wire, Game of Thrones, Mad Men and The Walking Dead thrive on the morally gray universes they create.

Breaking Bad’s singularly moral universe makes it ripe for spiritual reflection. Thank God for The Gospel According to Breaking Bad.

Blake Atwood
Check out Blake’s blog!

Writing as a fan, a critic and a Christian, Blake Atwood takes the world of Breaking Bad seriously. Blake is as thoughtful and thorough as anyone. He’s read all the blogs, listened to all the interviews, watched all the episodes. Probably twice. He works through every name and color (and name-color combo, like PINKMAN!), every symbol and foreshadow. On a purely fanboy level, The Gospel According to Breaking Bad is a fun read.

But Blake also carefully evaluates how well the show lives up to what it sets out to do. He combs through interviews and episodes, picks apart characters and conversations. From the first episode to the last – thanks to the updated and expanded print edition that includes a final chapter on those final eight episodes.

Finally, it wouldn’t be a Gospel According to… book without some serious theological reflection. How can Saul help us think about Justification? What does the show say about free will? And can those final controversial episodes teach us anything about grace and redemption?

Breaking Bad 2Blake Atwood’s fun, careful and thoughtful work should jumpstart provocative and meaningful conversation among fans of Breaking Bad.

Ultimately, that’s why I’m such a fan of The Gospel According to Breaking Bad. If you read this blog regularly, you know this is right in my wheelhouse. We need more of this sort of engagement with pop culture. Here’s the endorsement I wrote for the book:

Many of the best theological conversations are being held on and around television shows like Breaking Bad. Blake Atwood offers a distinctly Christian perspective on the themes and issues this landmark show discusses. The Gospel According to Breaking Bad is provocative, compelling, smart and a whole lot of fun. I absolutely love this sort of serious and respectful engagement with popular culture, and I desperately hope Blake’s labor of love inspires a multitude of spin-offs.

Bottom Line: The Gospel According to Breaking Bad is a must read for any fan of the show who wants to think some more about the spiritual issues the show raises.

YOUR TURN: What spiritual themes do you see in Breaking Bad?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for review purposes from the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

By JR. Forasteros

JR. lives in Dallas, TX with his wife Amanda. In addition to exploring the wonders that are the Lone Star state, JR. is the teaching pastor at Catalyst Community Church, a writer and blogger. His book, Empathy for the Devil, is available from InterVarsity Press. He's haunted by the Batman, who is in turn haunted by the myth of redemptive violence.