Young, male Democrats out West are the most likely to have watched Breaking Bad – but the show's fans may have a lot more in common with Walter White than they might care to admit.
Breaking Bad has been one of AMC’s most successful shows and traces the rise of Walter White, a meek high school chemistry teacher who 'breaks bad' when he is diagnosed with cancer and decides to start making methamphetamine. Last night marked the final episode of the show, which spanned five seasons and won near universal critical acclaim. But who among ordinary Americans actually watches the show?
The latest research from YouGov shows that the show has a core audience of young, male Democrats. Whereas only 22% of Americans have 'ever' watched an episode of Breaking Bad, a third (33%) of American under-30s have, and the show is also particularly popular among college grads, 32% of whom have watched it before. Meanwhile 26% of Democrats have watched the show, compared to only 16% of Republicans.
Breaking Bad is clearly not the most-watched American show. A July YouGov poll found 47% of all Americans had watched an episode of the six-year-old sitcom The Big Bang Theory, which airs on CBS, a network channel. Though even in July, when only 18% had watched Breaking Bad, the show had reached about as many of more Americans than other critically acclaimed dramas, like Game of Thrones (19%), Downton Abbey (14%) or Mad Men (17%).
Providing some explanation for its viral popularity, those whom the show has reached tend strongly to like it – of the people who have watched an episode, two-thirds (67%) like what they saw, while 17% are neutral about it and only 13% disliked it.
Profile: Breaking Bad fans
Perhaps not unlike Walter White's own personality early on in the show – a brilliant, but failed, chemist and family man – fans of the show tend to describe themselves as being ‘thinkers’, ‘withdrawn’, and 'empathetic', according to YouGov's Opigram system, which provides a detailed window into how fans of the show compare to the TV-watching public at large.
In the top ten most common descriptors for Breaking Bad fans, ‘analytical’ and ‘intelligent’ also feature prominently, indicating that many of the show’s fans may feel a certain amount of empathy for Walter White, who is known on the show as being smart and calculating.
In terms of other media, the other shows that are most often enjoyed by Breaking Bad fans tend to be similar, insofar that they are all hour-long, cable TV dramas. Mad Men, another critically-acclaimed AMC drama, is the show that most closely correlates with Breaking Bad but another show that just had its final episode – Dexter – is the second strongest.
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Full poll results can be found here.