Breaking Bad has become a little bit of the cliched go-to answer to the question “what is the greatest TV show of all-time”, but the fact of the matter is that it is a perfectly valid answer. The show is supremely well-made and it pushed the boundaries of what you can do creatively on television.
But at the risk of angering the rabid fanbase with a bold opinion – like Skyler White being right the whole time – I’m going to put this out there on the record: Better Call Saul is a better show than Breaking Bad.
What started out as a pretty damn good prequel (and semi sequel) has gradually evolved into something that surpasses its predecessor.
Now let me state this right off the bat: Breaking Bad is a brilliant show that will forever rank as one of my all-time great favourites and the high-stakes, high-tension narrative is something that very few shows have managed to match let alone surpass.
By comparison, Better Call Saul is a comparatively low-stakes show that eschews most of the violence in favour of more talking and deeper dives into its characters, even if the premise – the rise and downfall of its protagonist – is very similar on the surface.
And it’s this contrast that makes Better Call Saul the superior show, a sentiment that’s shared by the one and only Guillermo del Toro.
The main reason why I consider Better Call Saul to be, ahem, better than Breaking Bad is the characterisation and the inevitable tragedy that awaits its protagonist, Jimmy McGill, and I feel mega happy that del Toro shares the same sentiment that I do.
For all the fanboying over Walter White, I never found him to be a very sympathetic or likable person, which is partially by design and partially due to Bryan Cranston’s brilliant acting.
Jimmy McGill on the other hand is inherently a good person and a sympathetic person who tries to do what he thinks is right, all while fighting his deep flaws. The moral decay from good-guy Jimmy to his eventual Breaking Bad persona of Saul Goodman is ultimately a more interesting and tragic journey than Walter White’s rise and fall.
What really caps it off is that we already know Jimmy will fall. We know that he will pay a deep personal cost in becoming Saul, and that inherent tragic downfall awaiting on the horizon creates unbearable tension that matches anything that Breaking Bad has offered up.
Ultimately, this is just the musings of someone who loves TV, probably a little too much, and there really isn’t a right or wrong answer to the question of whether Better Call Saul is better than Breaking Bad since it’s all opinion anyway.
So rather than take my word or Guillermo del Toro’s word as gospel (and there’s definitely no reason to listen to me at all), let’s just enjoy the fact that shows as good as Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad even exist and hope that our hearts don’t break too much when the moment Jimmy becomes Saul finally unfolds on the screen.