From The Journal Of Screenwriting V5 Issue 3: ‘Want to Cook?’: Static and fluid layering in The Sopranos and Breaking Bad by Jeff Rush

Highlighting the articles in the past editions of the Journal of Screenwriting, of which I am the Book Reviews Editor. Hopefully these abstracts will entice you to did a little deeper into the history and future of screenwriting. — Rosanne


‘Want to Cook?’: Static and fluid layering in The Sopranos and Breaking Bad by Jeff Rush

Neo-Baroque scholars argue that, because television serials build their story arc on episodic rather than linear structure, they feature the paradigmatic over the syntagmatic axis of story development. This article will extend that argument, claiming that, unlike three-act structure, serial story structure layers character against generic tropes and, as a result, limits character development. It will propose two such strategies for this layering: the static, where the trope remains the same, and the fluid, where the character moves from one trope to the other in the course of the story. In The Sopranos, the example of static layering, even though Tony Soprano pulls against the trope of the gangster don, he always returns to it. By contrast, in Breaking Bad, the example of fluid layering, Walter White is allowed to move through a series of tropes, evolving as a character as he does. However, the evolution is limited by the theme-and-variations style, which ultimately requires that subsequent variations play off of, and recapitulate, the initial theme.

From The Journal Of Screenwriting V5 Issue 3: ‘Want to Cook?’: Static and fluid layering in The Sopranos and Breaking Bad by Jeff Rush


Journal of Screenwriting Cover

The Journal of Screenwriting is an international double-blind peer-reviewed journal that is published three times a year. The journal highlights current academic and professional thinking about the screenplay and intends to promote, stimulate and bring together current research and contemporary debates around the screenplay whilst encouraging groundbreaking research in an international arena. The journal is discursive, critical, rigorous and engages with issues in a dynamic and developing field, linking academic theory to screenwriting practice. 

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