With both Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad currently on Netflix, fans have been hotly locked in the conversation of which is better. As each is a strong contender for the best TV show of the 21 century, it’s a debate that rages on, mainly because people on either side of the argument are fans of both shows.
Such is the quality of Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould’s writing that it’s hard not to be pulled in by either show, with it nigh on impossible to discern a resounding winner. However, culture is meant to be pawed and picked apart, so let’s dive into the debate.
Prior to Better Call Saul concluding in 2022, the consensus was still that its predecessor, Breaking Bad was the better of the two. At the time, the crime drama was locked in a never-ending tussle with The Wire, The Sopranos and Mad Men for the title of the greatest TV show of all time.
However, after the spin-off – which serves as a prequel and sequel to Breaking Bad – concluded in August, the conversation had changed, and now there was a new contender. Across a whole host of aggregating critics sites, the shows are level-pegged.
It’s an interesting debate, as Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul occupy separate sides of the same coin. Duly, with Better Call Saul serving as the prequel and sequel to the original series, it gave more scope for comedy, character development and, ultimately, optimism.
Aside from these features, it is also praised for how it makes audiences root for Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman, its seamless blend of new characters with old ones, and, more importantly, its employment of strong female characters, something Gilligan’s original series is lacking.
Rhea Seehorn’s Kim Wexler is vital to the show, with her morals something to commend, despite the scheming that she undertakes. Her eminence is reflected in how fans were more concerned that she would die before Breaking Bad than whether Jimmy would live after. So props have to go to Gilligan and Gould for the quality of their efforts to move with the times.
On the other hand, there’s a lot to be said for Breaking Bad‘s case, with purists not budging on the matter. The first argument they would posit is that the story of Breaking Bad is better, despite how depressing it can get, and that blasted episode “Fly”, which was a waste of everyone’s time.
There’s also a solid assertion that claims that the character development of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman is more impactful than that of those in Better Call Saul, with the grit and authenticity of Gilligan’s original series unmatched. Additionally, there’s a substantial view that Better Call Saul is guilty of being very slow at points, even more so than Breaking Bad, which can be excruciating.
As there is really nothing in it, the question of which of the two series is better changes each day. As the pair are so interlinked, it’s almost impossible to crown a champion.
Better Call Saul mostly learnt from the mistakes of Breaking Bad, whereas on the other hand, it’s hard for the characters of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman to be beaten, despite Gilligan and Gould’s prowess in Better Call Saul. I’m not a betting man, but I’d wager that this debate will still be alive in ten years’ time.