Which is better: Breaking Bad or The Wire?

This poll is for those who are familiar with both series and have an opinion as to which is better.

These are the two best dramatic series in the history of the universe, in my opinion, and I regularly waffle as to which is 1 and which is 2.

Currently I think it’s The Wire by a nose hair.

I think Walter White’s story arc is a very interesting study of human nature. The Wire had some unforgettable characters. But I think it’s impossible to rank them against each other, as one was a series of different story lines and people, while Breaking Bad is the inexorable decline of one man’s life. In other words, I can’t choose, either.

I don’t know, what’s better apples or oranges? They are both fruit after all.

Ok, that was a touch snarky I guess. Let me elaborate.

The Wire was a show about society and the examination of the role police and criminals play in a modern urban environment and how each is locked into and endless unbreakable and unchangable cycle. Breaking Bad is about a good man being corrupted by greed and how the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

The Wire strived for almost naturalistic realism because it is intended to reflect modern society in a very specific place, Breaking Bad goes for high drama becuase it is modeled on classical tragedy and doesn’t really attempt to reflect anything real about society chosing instead to focus on character and plot. This doesn’t mean that Breaking Bad doesn’t have things to say about society, just that it’s purpose is to tell the story of a man not a place, where as the Wire’s purpose is to tell the story of a place not a man.

The Wire is more ambitious and tried to tell a wider variety of stories examining the workings of Balitmore from a different angle each season. Breaking Bad is focused on a single small set of characters with extreme focus.

They both do what they do very well, but they do different things. It’s not really fair to jude them against one another like that.

That said, I am voting for The Wire. Life’s not fair and I like voting in polls. Also I know how the Wire ends, Breaking Bad still has the opportunity to fuck things up with the last few episodes.

While I still like Breaking Bad just enough to keep watching it (mostly for Jesse at this point) I find it to be one of the most overrated shows ever the way the fanboys and girls flip the hell out about it.

For me The Wire is miles above it.

The Wire.

I like both shows, but I find that while Breaking Bad has lots of really great, riveting scenes, it’s also full of sequences that bore me to death. Walter’s wife and son are wholly uninteresting and I don’t give a shit about his fucked up sister-in-law. Nor do I give a shit about Jesse’s home life. The best scenes in any given episode feature Walt, and well, he’s not in every scene.

Love both shows, but I especially love how in The Wire there is a blur between who is good and who is bad. Some of the police have worse traits and habits than some of the drug dealers.

Yep. The Wire had a much larger cast of characters and all of them had story lines that held my interest. I might skip scenes with Cedric and his wife, or Kima and Cheryl, maybe ten minutes total in 50+ hours of TV.

The Wire by quite a bit, I think. It was unrelentingly adult for the entire run, and wickedly smart in all the right places.

As much as I like BB, and can appreciate its good points, there’s a certain shallowness, even a bit of a smirking adolescentness to it. It’s unusual when a character actually acts like a real, honest-ta-gawd grownup. (And that character is, all too often, Jesse - Aaron Paul has not collected nearly enough awards for his role. I’ve watched his portrayal with absolutely raw admiration since his first step up from dillweed slacker. “I am a bad guy.” - chills.)

OTOH… I think Walt is an overplayed cartoon character. The portrayal is good, better than most of what’s on TV, but so limited, so overplayed and outright hammy at times, that I don’t see why people are fall-down crazy about it.

The correct answer is Breaking Bad, but The Wire has been elevated to such a lofty place in popular culture that it’s nigh impossible to unseat it.

The Wire is great, but it made a ton of mistakes over the course of five seasons, even though critical discourse would have you believe it’s basically flawless. The final season was a joke, though. McNulty inventing a serial killer? Gus and his valiant crusade against corruption? Both jarring in a show that’s ostensibly a naturalistic examination of social injustice and bureaucratic incompetence.

And for every scene Breaking Bad has with Marie or Walt Jr., The Wire has five more with McNulty and his ex-wife or Kima and her girlfriend. And none of those scenes are interesing or add anything of value to the story, or at least no more than their counterparts contribute to the story in Breaking Bad.

These are only a few examples. I love The Wire as much as the next middle-class white person, but I also recognize that its greatness is tied to the new territory it broke. It’s not a great drama, but it challenged our assumptions about what dramatic television could explore, and for that it’s a tremendous achievement.

But as a straight-up work of drama, Breaking Bad is the better of the two.

The Wire, easily, but if you also had Deadwood on the list, I would have had a hard time choosing.

I like both, for different reasons - but would probably take The Sopranos to a desert island over either.

The Wire took longer to get into, had many more characters to keep track of but overall was more satisfying for me.
Also love BB, not taking anything away from it.


And I’m not getting your point. :slight_smile:

I’m too cheap to pay for premium channels, so I haven’t seen either show.

I have to say that The Wire is a better show, though, based on the following line of reasoning:

Breaking Bad has “Bad” right there in its name, which suggests that it is NOT “good.”

If something is not “good” then the only way it can be “better” than a comparable thing is if the comparable thing is “worse.”

The Wire does NOT have “worse” right in its name; therefore, it is not “worse” than Breaking Bad.

Therefore, it is BETTER.


I agree with every word of this.

The trouble with The Wire is the fifth season, a serious blot on an otherwise excellent show. That said, I’m still not quite ready to say Breaking Bad is better just because of one disastrous season of the Wire…

the wire, it’s not even close. the wire and the sopranos (i consider them equals) are akin to epic (the real meaning of the word not “epic, dude”) literature. extended, intertwining, pragmatic, realistic character development, multiple ‘issues’ tackled etc. shows like breaking bad, dexter, the shield are akin to really excellent and fun literature like… i dunno, a good stephen king novel.

the wire’s fifth season was the weakest as someone noted above. i actually thought it was really bad and was very disappointed when i first watched season 5 but i rewatched it a couple of times since and it didnt seem anywhere as bad as i originally thought. the whole “fake serial killer” thing always seemed on the brink of kitsch. i also hear people talk bad about season 2 (the docks season) which is too bad because i think it’s the best. when BET airs the wire it leaves out entire plot points from that season, pathetic. it’s also a shame that david simon’s current show TREME is not getting much “buzz”. while not as good as the wire it’s pretty damn close. i guess people are attracted to drugs, guns, killing and urban blight rather than city politics and brass bands.

The Wire, for me, because even though both are fiction it seems that there’s a lot less deus ex machina that can or does happen in The Wire. Whenever something bad can happen it usually does. It was the first show that I remember watching where huge main characters were just killed off - not at the end of the season, not at the end of an episode, just bam - dead.

Breaking Bad can and does let bad shit happen but more often than not everyone gets out of trouble just in the nick of time and it all wraps up neatly. Not to say that it’s not completely compelling television but The Wire doesn’t seem to have the safety net of the completely made-up world.

I like BB but I think it’s slow. I also thought *The Wire *was slow but it simply started off slow and ramped up.

Could have been my post. I watched the first two seasons and then gave up on Breaking Bad. I thought all the characters bar Jesse were unlikeable, Walter’s actions were poorly motivated and often made little sense, the plotting and story telling were grating, particularly the use of subsequently meaningless flash forwards for effect.

So when season 3 started I just didn’t watch again.

I’m shocked it got this close as Breaking Bad is my immediate answer to “most overrated recent TV show”

OTOH, Dictionary.com has, in it’s slang section of the definition of Bad