Science: Breaking Bad > Big Bang Theory

How Breaking Bad helps foster interest in STEM more than The Big Bang Theory

As you’re probably already aware, The Big Bang Theory’s humor primarily feeds off of the social ineptitude or pop culture naiveté of four young scientists.

The show is littered with the same false dichotomy Hollywood incorporated into The Social Network: If you’re intelligent, you have no sense of fashion, can’t keep track of pop culture references (probably because you’re too busy ruining a $400 million dollar Mars rover), don’t take an interest in an active lifestyle and of course, are not attractive. There are plenty of great articles detailing why the show doesn’t deserve accolades from the likes of Dr. Stephen Hawking. Sure, it taught a lot of people about Schrödinger’s cat, but does little in fostering an interest in STEM.

Brilliant minds obsessed about getting laid is the overarching theme of the show. I suppose that makes sense. How could anybody be more interested in their work than getting laid?

On the other hand, Breaking Bad follows the transformation of the protagonist, Walter White from high school teacher to Drug Kingpin. Throughout the journey, Walt (and his sidekick Jesse) turn to science for solutions. Even though the show may not always be scientifically accurate with its experiments, it tries to stay true.

While it’s not exactly a PG-13 public service announce, the show covers a lot of situations where the solutions are science experiments in an uncontrolled environment. The dilemmas are thought provoking and often leaves the viewer wondering what creative solution the chemist can cook up.

We’re never left laughing at Walt for his intellect or cheering for him to hook up with the girl next door. We end up watching a story unfold without making his intelligence and scientific knowledge a handicap, but rather, his greatest asset. One can only hope that it sparks interest for legal courses of action.

Takeaways from applying to B school

With Peter Thiel challenging the traditional education system, a lot of us are left wondering if business school is worth it. For me, the main items to consider were:

Natural progression of career

Is an MBA from a top school an expectation for the next level up? With the new focus on technical leadership among the leading tech giants, the traditional MBA is often overlooked in favor of a strong record of leading teams and delivering results. If all the places you want to work at have this requirement (also known as ‘You want to be an investment banker’), there’s little room for negotiation.

Network from alumni, faculty & students

Arguably the most beneficial perk from the program, this becomes a perk only if you end up going to the top schools (Top 10, maybe 20). Bringing together a lot of energetic visionaries with diverse skillsets, business school provides a great environment to assemble a team of superstars. However, with the top schools have a massive…


If you’re able to shell out ~$80,000/year for two years, this isn’t an issue. For the rest of us, there are questions of when we will pay off our loans, what the true cost of the degree is (including interest, lost experience, etc) and the emotional toil it carries – If you have dependents, they will have to be on-board this venture as much as you are.

Switching industries

Unfortunately, unlike jobs, careers tend to typecast you into that specific industry/role. It doesn’t matter that you have independently gained all the certifications under the sun. You need real work experience to get your foot in the door and nobody’s willing to take a chance in a high-risk field.

Business schools provide a unique path to changing careers where their strong relationships with companies allow you to land an internship, go through a structured program (atleast at the leading consulting companies) and come out with just enough polish to get by. Ideally, you land an internship at your dream company, they love you the second you walk inside and the rest is history.

Formal training on the fundamentals of business or management

Education programs at schools used to be the only structured and reputable sources for such training but with the new open university / continuing education / extension classes offered, there are cheaper alternatives to getting an MBA.

A break from the work life to reflect on life/goals

There are a surprising amount of folks who think of business school as a vacation from the hectic life of their profession. The reason that most schools are picky about goals and reasons you want to go to business school is not that they expect everyone to stick to the goals listed in their application. The top programs, the extra-curricular activities you’ll want to join and the multiple company visits or international trips you take will leave you literally no time to reflect. Better get on that reflecting 🙂

An unexpected takeaway I had from applying to the top schools was the five year plan I came up with. Having to gut it over and over again, it is a far more refined and realistic plan than anything else I have come up with. The deadlines for the application force you to put together a good plan that will be useful even if you end up not going to business school.

Perhaps just applying to business school will provide you a better idea of if it’s the right choice for you or not. It definitely provided me a lot of clarity.

If you’re a prospective B-School student, hope this was helpful and good luck!