(Photo courtesy AMC)

Guilty pleasures

In a new lunch series, faculty and students consider the draws of good TV.

Last Monday professors Patrick Jagoda and W. J. T. Mitchell sat down for pizza with 20 or so students to discuss their guilty pleasure, the AMC show Breaking Bad.

“Actually, we’re not really guilty,” Mitchell admitted.

The lunch was the second in the new Guilty Pleasures series sponsored by the English department. The first installment, led by new chair of the department Elaine Hadley, discussed the trifles in Downton Abbey.

The idea for the series originated with Hadley, who talked to faculty about sharing their interests in pop culture with the University community. The goal, says undergraduate program assistant Amy Schulz, “is to achieve more interaction between undergrads and faculty through common interests.”

Jagoda, who has focused on video games and new media and helped to organize last year’s Oscillation transmedia game, and Mitchell, editor of Critical Inquiry and esteemed critic of all things media, proved a formidable pair for discussing a show that most students likely watch while procrastinating on their homework.

In keeping with the show’s bleak tone, Jagoda offered a somber admission of what it feels like to watch Breaking Bad: “If there’s any guilt that I feel when I watch this show, it’s a guilt of complicity with the tragedy of the middle-class family that’s being depicted.”

Attendees included several graduate students as well as undergrads, and after 20 minutes of introductory remarks from the professors—and a stubborn projector that refused to play Jagoda’s excerpted clip—the group opened up to confess their own reasons for following the show.

The department plans to continue the series in the fall, and faculty have already offered their suggestions. Possible future topics include Battlestar Galactica, Xena: Warrior Princess, and the phenomenon of flash mobs.