If I love Breaking Bad...will I love...

…The Sopranos? The Wire?

Any other suggestions?

Breaking Bad is honestly the best show I’ve ever seen on TV (I’m 50) so that includes a ton of TV. However, I’ve attempted (okay, 1 episode each) both The Sopranos and The Wire and found there to be just too many characters to follow. Which one (or both) should I stay with?

Any other shows that are comparable? I would actually find that hard to believe, really. BB is just so epic, tight and intense.

Sure, they are all - I’d say unquestionably - in the same ‘league’.

I would also include Deadwood. You can argue about the order.

After that … you drop down a league imo, but people have their personal preferences and some mistake that for pure, unadulterated quality and immense scale - which the shows you mention, plus Deadwood, are.

I’d recommend The Sopranos as the most similar to BB because it’s focused on a central character trying to balance family life with criminality. The Shield is another one like that, although it focuses on tertiary characters more. The Wire is excellent, but there’s no main character really and there are huge shifts in perspective and casts between seasons.

Here you go.

Homeland is kind of similar to BB, in that it has a fairly intense plot that moves along much more quickly then you expect it to.

I’m not sure I’d call Deadwood epic, and its certainly not tightly plotted, which are the things the OP liked about Breaking Bad. The Wire is a little closer, but not much. They’re both good shows, but they’re good in ways that are quite different from BB.

I suggest, in terms of drama, you don’t know what you’re looking at; Deadwood is the story of how people move from anarchy to community to societal democracy to proto-capitalism: it’s the story of a nation. If that’s not epic I don’t know what is.
No matter how excellent the nuanced writing for - and performances of - the two leads, Homeland isn’t even on this map.

The Shield is in the same league, in my opinion.

I just started watching Breaking Bad a few months ago, and caught up to the broadcast about a month before the final new episodes started this week.

In the meantime, I bought Season 1 of The Wire and have watched 4-5 episodes. I agree with you that I was a little bit overwhelmed by the number of characters in the pilot episode, but I’m starting to get the secondary characters sorted out now. I do like it a lot. I’ve never seen The Sopranos, The Shield or really any of the other shows named so far.

I recently tried watching The Shield because the zeitgeist was telling me a similar tale. But I stopped after a few minutes, because the production values were just **so **low. It looked like someone filmed it in the '80s with a camcorder and then uploaded it to YouTube in 240p.

My “top five greatest TV dramas of all time” list is as follows:

Breaking Bad
Six Feet Under
Street Time
(not available on video, alas)
*In Treatment
Girls *

(The Sopranos, Deadwood, and The Wire would make the top ten, in case you are curious; OTOH I do not like Mad Men or Homeland.)

If we want to talk about just currently airing dramas, other than *BB *and *Girls *there are really two that I love a lot:

The Americans

HBO productions have always been extraordinary and The Sopranos and The Wire are also one of them. Six Feet Under and Twin Peaks (not HBO) are different genres but I definitely recommend them.
Twin Peaks is very intriguing and mysterious. Six Feet Under’s plot is elaborate and covers pretty much every twist and turn in life one might face.
If you want to stay in criminal/gangster genre go with The Sopranos. The Wire is as others stated a bit overwhelming. I would recommend it, though.

Rome. Very underrated, and often left off of these lists. I enjoyed it even more the second time around when I could burn through the episodes.

Also another vote for Deadwood.

I’d like to nominate “Justified”. I really enjoy the dialogue on that show.


Stay with both. There are a lot of characters, but if you have the time to watch carefully, you won’t get too lost. Watch via DVR if you can, so you can pause, rewind, think, etc.

We just finished watching The Sopranos – a re-watch, actually, hadn’t seen it since it first aired. After each episode, I went to The AV Club for the recap and commentary. It helped me keep the characters and story lines straight. Especially helpful with all the similar names, Big Pussy, Little Pussy, Jackie, Jackie Jr., two Tonys, etc.

Do the same with The Wire. Alan Sepinwall’s reviews are still up, and they’re very helpful.

Ditto Justified.

Both The Wire and The Sopranos are well worth the effort, I would say, so I’d certainly attempt to stick with both.

I think you’re right in recognizing that both The Wire and The Sopranos have much larger casts of characters to keep track off. It’s something that may or may not work for you. BB has been criticized (here, for instance) for not developing secondary characters very much, as it focuses so much of its energy on WW. I think I’d agree with that, although I don’t necessarily see it as a criticism - it just happens to be a show about one guy and his journey, it’s much more plot focused, and paying attention to secondary characters, expanding its scope, would be an unwelcome distraction. The other shows are more impressionistic in a way, more about painting the lives of a group of people, a segment of society, as they live their lives. That said, getting to know the larger casts of the other shows is also rewarding in its own right, and that is a feature that BB does not offer to its viewers.

What it does offer, in contrast, is change, and lots of it. BB is all about metamorphosis, by the end of season 5B everything in WW’s life is completely different from what it was like in season 1, episode 1, and throughout the series, everything is constantly in complete flux, the plot is constantly completely off the rails. Although some characters in The Wire or The Sopranos live through considerable shifts (a lot of them die, for instance) those universes are pretty much the same throughout the series from start to finish.

Sons of anarchy is a good one. Made by the guy who made The shield.

I tend to go with David Simon on this. To quote directly and in full: “Fuck the casual viewer. Seriously, who wants a casual viewer? If you’re a writer do you want a casual reader? I don’t want those people. Don’t want 'em”

The Wire is amazing. It is one of my favorite pieces of art ever, and that includes a lot of theatre, literature, and other story based art. It is also very very different from Breaking Bad. That doesn’t mean that either of them is less good than the other, but you might not like The Wire because it’s such a different type of storytelling.

The Soprano’s, on the other hand, I think is more similar in terms of style and is also fantastic. Both are well worth your time, and I have a special love for The Wire, so I strongly suggest giving it at least 4 episodes before making up your mind.

The other shows mentioned in the thread, in particular Justified and The Shield, are worth the effort too. Deadwood, for me, hasn’t aged well and neither did another favorite of mine from that time, OZ. But there is a TON of great TV that was made in the last 15 years and if you haven’t watched it you really should.

You would probably really enjoy the first season of Damages. The other seasons are good too but the first is quite excellent.

I prefered **The Wire **and **The Sopranos **to **Breaking Bad **but not by a huge margin. I agree that there are a lot of characters to get acquainted with but it pays off.
I rate them:

  1. Sopranos
  2. Wire
  3. Game Of Thrones
  4. Breaking Bad

I’ll third Justified.