Moral sympathy and the “Lucifer effect.” Evil and redemption in Breaking Bad
Other Titles: 
La simpatía moral y el “efecto Lucifer”. Mal y redención en Breaking Bad
Keywords: 
Television Studies
Moral Emotions
Breaking Bad
Antiheroes
Issue Date: 
Feb-2019
ISSN: 
1138-5820
Editorial note: 
Journal Open Access
Note: 
Creative Commons Reconocimiento-No comercial-Sin obras derivadas 3.0 España License.
Citation: 
Revista Latina de Comunicación Social
Abstract
Introduction.This article analyzes the dramatic and cognitive mechanisms that activate viewers’ emotional identification with antihero protagonists of serial fiction, taking Breaking Bad as a case study. Methods. The analysis of the mechanisms that enable identification is based on cognitive media theory (Carroll; Plantinga; Smith), and is reinforced through media psychology, applied through a close reading of the last season of the series. Theoretical framework. The notion of “structure of sympathy” (Smith) is used to identify four dramatic strategies that modulate the spectatorial moral judgment against the antihero, while the concept of the “expanded narrative” is used to explain the familiarity established with the protagonist. Discussion. In its fifth season, the story destroys the viewer’s moral sympathy for the character, but rebuilds it in the last episodes of the series through the aforementioned four dramatic strategies. Conclusion. The concept of moral sympathy is proposed as a synthesis of narrative familiarity and moral modulation of the ethical perspective.

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