Breaking Bad

One of the many things I love about my iPad is the ability to watch TV series many years after they come out. This way, instead of wading through commercials or having to wait a week for the next episode, I can plow through an entire season in about 3 weeks. I think I watched the entire series of The Wire, start to finish, in about a month. Some of the other shows I’ve watched rapid fire include The Killing, Damages, Homeland, and Californication.

My most recent infatuation is Breaking Bad.

My sister recommended it and a co-worker encouraged me to stick with it when it started to drag halfway through season 1. I’m glad I did. It’s a great show. You know this if you’ve watched it, but you also know it has one huge plot flaw. I’m sure it is annoying you as much as it is me. Worry not, I am about to set the record straight.

In case you haven’t watched it, the premise of Breaking Bad goes something like this. A high school chemistry teacher in New Mexico is diagnosed with lung cancer. He’s about 50 and has a wife and teenage son. Realizing that his meager income and savings will be consumed by medical bills and he’ll leave his family penniless when he dies, he uses his chemistry skills (and access to chem lab materials) to start making and selling methamphetamine. It turns out he makes the best, purest meth in the entire southwest and his little scheme turns into a full blown meth lab, financed by a Mexican drug cartel.

But, here’s what really pisses me off about this show. How the hell would a chemist know how to make better, more pure meth? As a chemical engineer, I am offended and outraged by the woeful lack of technical accuracy by the Hollywood dimwits on this one. Everyone knows that chemical processing is the purview of chemical engineers, not chemists. Seriously, how the hell would a chemist know how to size a reactor or design a distillation column? What in God’s name do chemists know about throughput, batch size, or yields? Ha! I suppose they could confirm the basic chemical reactions involved in making meth, but apparently so can every meth-head cooking in the average inner city meth lab in the U.S.

No, if you want to break bad and make the best, purest meth in the land, you would need the skills of a chemical engineer, not a chemist. I’m not volunteering my services, but for crying out loud, Hollywood, please understand the difference between a chemist and a chemical engineer before you start spewing your technically inaccurate drivel out on the airwaves.

About Bruce Robertson

Bruce Robertson is an amateur writer and professional provocateur
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