A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Although Walt's actions are (at least initially) motivated by his desire to provide for his family, the show's takeaways are pretty grim overall. Good and evil are constantly muddled, bad things happen to "good" people for no reason, many characters commit crimes in the name of revenge, and there's no reward for doing the right thing.
Positive Role Models
The main character is a terminally ill chemistry teacher who decides to make methamphetamines as a way to earn quick cash for his family -- eventually becoming a drug kingpin. Although you can sympathize with his motives at first, his methods are questionable at best and rapidly deteriorate as the show progresses. The people who surround him get caught up in the consequences of his decisions, often to their detriment.
Women are portrayed as nagging or always ruining the fun of the men (usually their husbands or partners). Every Latino character in the show is involved in the drug trade, which perpetuates stereotypes. Characters make racist comments about Mexicans and immigrants. Walter aligns himself and seeks help from a neo-Nazi gang. On the plus side, Walter Jr. has cerebral palsy and is played authentically by R.J. Mitte, who has the same disability.
Did we miss something on diversity? Suggest an update.
Violence & Scariness
Frequent graphic/gory violence. Shooting and threats of shooting; other physical scuffles, beatings, and attacks; explosions (some with horrifying results); poisonings; accidental deaths. Children are killed off-screen. Corpses are shown.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
In one scene, a bare-breasted woman leans out a window. Walt and his wife have some intense sexual encounters, but nothing graphic is shown. Oral sex and sex work are implied when characters visit a strip club.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Audible language includes words like "ass" and "bitch," "f--k," "d--k," "pr--k," "p---y," and "bulls--t." Middle finger used as a form of insult throughout.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
Walt leases an expensive Chrysler car (often called a "modern gangster car") when his drug business begins to thrive. Stevia appears prominently in the fifth season. The fictitious brand "Los Pollos Hermanos" appears throughout and merchandise with its logo exists in real life.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The show revolves around making and selling illegal drugs; some characters have substance abuse disorders and are seen using drugs in a graphic way. Drugs are glamorized, as Walt is touted by the dealers as an artist for his skill at making methamphetamine. Also drinking and prescription drug use.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Breaking Bad isn't intended for kids. Its intense, morally ambiguous characters and storylines are meant for mature audiences. Main character Walter White (Bryan Cranston) starts out as an essentially good person who's driven to extreme negative behavior (manufacturing methamphetamines and more) by depression and desperation. Over the course of the show, his good side becomes less and less evident as he eventually turns into a drug lord. There's a good bit of swearing (including "f--k"), frequent violence (sometimes extremely graphic), and some sexual content (a woman is shown topless; intercourse, sex work, and oral sex are implied but not shown). Latino characters perpetuate stereotypes, and women are portrayed as nagging. The making and abuse of drugs are core to the series.
Is It Any Good?
All of the characters in this gripping show are complex and flawed (many very deeply), and they all make mistakes and sometimes baffling choices. In Breaking Bad, the line between "good" and "bad" isn't clear; in fact, nobody comes off looking particularly good here, including Walt's DEA agent brother-in-law, Hank (Dean Norris), who's brusque and often insensitive. But Cranston's award-winning performance is one of the best things about the show. Forget the spacey, clueless dad of Malcolm in the Middle: Here he transforms into one of the most iconic anti-heroes in recent TV history. The rest of the ensemble, particularly Paul, Giancarlo Esposito, and Gunn, match Cranston's prowess. The show has tight direction and the writing is intelligent, even as it deals with amoral characters.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.