Mad Men vs. Breaking Bad

We pit AMC's two champions against each other in a magnificent battle royale.

By Jonathan Weed

If I had a time machine, I'd go back to 2005 and place a bet on the following ludicrous proposition: within five years, basic cable backwater AMC would be home to two of the most lauded original series on TV. AMC's first hit, Mad Men, and its second, Breaking Bad, have made the network mandatory viewing for those of us who want to keep up with the conversation at cocktail parties. But, as Breaking Bad's penultimate season comes to a close this Sunday, we've had enough of all this good-natured mutual backslapping. It's time for a head-to-head fight: which series deserves to be called the best TV show of our time?

 

Leading Man: Jon Hamm's portrayal of Don Draper on Mad Men is a study in restraint. Draper's nearly always in control, and even when he's not (like in last season's "The Suitcase"), any weakness he displays is quickly retracted behind his relentlessly confident shell. Bryan Cranston's performance as Walter White is equally virtuosic, a tour de force of vulnerability and desperation. Both actors deserve the highest praise, but Don Draper is this decade's Tony Soprano: a cultural icon, the TV character even non-TV watchers can identify by name. It's hard to top that.

Advantage: Mad Men

 

Supporting Cast (Male): Viewers and critics are sometimes so quick to praise Hamm and Cranston that the supporting casts of both Mad Men and Breaking Bad get short shrift. Mad Men has a wide and ever-expanding class of solid male characters, some of whom are so reliably hilarious (I'm looking at you, Roger Sterling) that Mad Men is, for me, the funniest non-comedy on television.

But even the Mad Men talent pool can't compete with Breaking Bad's Jesse Pinkman, a meth dealer whose missteps in the first season provided the show's comic relief, but whose darkening storyline is now one of Breaking Bad's most gripping. And don't forget late arrival Gustavo Fring. As portrayed by the magnificent Giancarlo Esposito, he's a terrifying TV drug kingpin for the ages. Both men play off Bryan Cranston and each other so masterfully that it's impossible to imagine the show without them. (There's also Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman, the sleaziest lawyer in TV history — worth mention for his one-liners alone.)

Advantage: Breaking Bad

 


Supporting Cast (Female): TV writing is still largely a boys' club; Mad Men's female-dominated writers' room (only two of the nine writers are men) is a gratifying exception. So it's no surprise that the show has television's best female character, and one of its best characters, period: Peggy Olson, the secretary-turned-copywriter at Mad Men's heart. Her complex relationships to feminism, to 1960s social movements, to business in a male-dominated industry, to sex, to power, to creativity, and to success are enthralling. Plus, Peggy stands in fascinating counterpoint to Betty Draper and Joan Holloway, more familiar visions of the 1960s woman who nevertheless have become deeper and more complex characters as the show's progressed. Apologies to Breaking Bad's Skyler and Marie, but Mad Men has this one in the bag.

Advantage: Mad Men

Commentarium (75 Comments)

Oct 07 11 - 12:47am
nope

"Which series deserves to be called the best TV show of our time?" So, I was waiting for you to answer this question, but then you didn't mention The Wire even once! Weird.

Oct 07 11 - 10:20am
Alex Heigl

Don't get me wrong, I'm as big a Wire fan as anyone, but I think he meant currently on air. The Wire's been over for a while *quiet sobbing*.

Oct 07 11 - 6:21pm
Jonathan Weed

"Our time" is NOW!

Anyway, I exclude The Wire for the same reason that Time decided to start their list of the century's best novels in 1923. It's more fun that way.

Oct 07 11 - 5:00am
big mac

mad men is all style over substance, breaking bad is substance AND style

Oct 14 11 - 12:58am
feiy

THANK YOU.

Jul 18 12 - 2:00am
brett

+1 this

Aug 15 12 - 1:01pm
Malina

Shouldn't that be substance abuse AND style?

Oct 07 11 - 9:11am
anon

Mad Men is pretty freaking dull, and I like some dull shows but I couldn't finish season 3. There just isn't enough meat on that bone for me.

Oct 07 11 - 11:58am
MC

I tried watching Mad Men myself to see what all the hype was about and couldnt even finish the third episode.

Oct 07 11 - 6:23pm
Jonathan Weed

Both MM and BB get mulligans on their first seasons (especially BB, which was cut short due to the writers' strike). Keep watching: it's a better show than it first appears.

Oct 07 11 - 9:30am
Mark

+1 for the comment on Whitney. Ugh, that show is insufferable.

Oct 07 11 - 9:46am
thinkywritey

This was a great article. I have watched Breaking Bad with wide eyes since accidentally stumbling on to the first episode. Mad Men took me a while to get to; I JUST finished watching all of it on Netflix. From my POV, Breaking Bad takes it, because every week, I eagerly await the next episode -- the only series on teevee that does that to/for me. I'm looking forward to Mad Men's return, but... I can wait.

Oct 07 11 - 9:50am
Grady LaLa

I can't believe Breaking Bad is still on — it's the worst comedy on TV. I hardly laugh at any of the jokes.

Oct 08 11 - 10:28am
Cory

haha.

Jul 25 12 - 1:01pm
Larry

Breaking Bad is not a comedy. Well, it has a dark comedy, but is not.

Oct 07 11 - 10:22am
j.cruel

After Deadwood and The Wire, it's Breaking Bad. Breaking Bad kills Mad Men and I'm a Mad Men fan.

Dec 02 11 - 5:11pm
j.nice

and Sopranos still reign supreme. love BB, MM (stop hatin' on Draper, and Sterling's the man), and SoA...thank god for great TV!

Oct 07 11 - 10:35am
CF

I'm an avid fan of Breaking Bad, from the first episode I was hooked. Interesting characters in interesting situations, portrayed by brilliant actors, shot and directed by some of the best talent in the industry. You understand the motives for ever characters actions, even if you don't agree with them, and you sympathies with even the most evil of them on some level from the moment they enter their first scene.

After much brow beating by friends I finally sat down and watched Mad Men Episode One. I was so underwhelmed by the trite, 2-d characters, story lines driven by nothing apparent and the simple fact that I found no one interesting, likeable or even detestable, that I have not returned since. Why the show survived to "get it's legs" is beyond me, the pilot was so dull it never should have aired. It probably has become worth of its current praise, but why would anyone want to sit through the beginning in order to get there? Not even in the same league as Breaking Bad... But then again very, very, very few shows are.

(BTW just cause the main character has name recognition with the masses, does not prove or disprove the validity of the show or the actors performance. Everyone knows who Barney is, does that make his show as good?)

Oct 08 11 - 1:00am
JTC

Mad Men's first season, admittedly, pales in comparison to its subsequent ones, but you know who else--at first--paled in comparison to their own later work? Basically every great artist who ever lived. You're serious? Just because the pilot didn't engage you, you're willing to write off the rest of a show that will go down in history as a landmark in television quality, without even having watched it? How about West Wing? Did you also write off every subsequent episode of that since the pilot began in media res, and was a bit muddled and uncertain of itself?

Oct 07 11 - 10:42am
PeterSmith

I love Breaking Bad and I think it's only gotten better as it's gone along. But it's a lot more cartoonish (Tuco, those doofy cousins, Marie's shoplifting) than Mad Men's ever been. I think Mad Men's the better show.

Oct 07 11 - 6:33pm
Jonathan Weed

I'll grant you Tuco, and the cousins aren't my favorite either. (But how can you not like "One Minute"?) I liked Marie's thefts during "Open House" this season -- seeing her try on different lives the way Walt tries on Heisenberg was illuminating.

Oct 07 11 - 11:25am
K.Dawn

Darnit! I just completed Breaking Bad up to the current season (episode 7 or 8) and knew I shouldn't have read this, as it contained a spoiler (Giancarlo Esposito REALLY impressed me with his acting in the role of Gustavo Fring). However, having waited several years before I attempted to watch Breaking Bad I knew I'd like it, based on reviews and Bryan Cranston's acting ability, but had no idea it would rival my love for Mad Men, which I have watched semi-faithfully for years.

This is a battle I've had in my head the last two weeks and have been unable to comfortably place one above another. They're both splendid shows; the best on television and of the past decade.

If forced, I'd have to tip my hat to Mad Men because of it's sheer elegance, which has been consistent throughout every season. Sometimes, people in my life shrug Mad Men off for being "too slow" or because they "can't get into it" and it's at those times I separate the minds of individuals capable of "getting it" and "not getting it". Sometimes it's difficult to wait through an hour of one episode or even a whole two episodes to get one intregal morsel of dialogue or action that's a very small, but important piece, of the very large puzzle that this show is. But that's the show's strength. I love Breaking Bad for being as IN YOUR FACE as it is; the acting is superb and the story arc has been amazing to watch, but I'm more touched by the slow, stylish, methodically crafted Mad Men storyline.

So, I don't feel it really a question of which is better, just more of which affects you more, and Mad Men is that one for me.

Oct 07 11 - 9:04pm
LM

plus one.

Oct 07 11 - 11:49am
peter111

breaking bad is immense

Oct 10 11 - 3:20am
IrishB

+1

Oct 07 11 - 11:57am
Loafof

Mad Men is a bluff. A gorgeous, atmospheric bluff, but a bluff none the less.
Breaking Bad has far deeper themes, as it delves deep into the dark psychology of it's characters whereas Mad Men stays stylistically shallow.
And nothing beats Walter White's transformation, except perhaps Pinkman's, let alone Don Draper's cheap and expected development.
Mad Men has its merits but it doesn't deserve to be mentioned among the greats such as The Wire, the Sopranos and, yes, Breaking Bad.

Oct 07 11 - 12:08pm
Nat

Pfft.
This is clearly just a Mad Men fan's attempt to debunk the current rising of Breaking Bad fans and critics hailing it as best show currently on TV. A quick crushing of hype out of fear it would take MM's crown in the next award season.
It wouldn't have been so blatantly obvious had the writer never name Draper the better developed character. Ridiculous!

Oct 07 11 - 1:04pm
dsides

I think they're both great shows. Breaking Bad, however, manages to do what Mad Men does and then goes for so much more. I think its disingenuous to suggest that BB doesn't have the deeper thematic heft of Mad Men. The moral collapse of Walter (and increasingly everyone around him) is a study in disillusionment and failure. There's a comment on the failed American Dream, welded to the ancient fall of Icarus. Walt is constantly overreaching while failing to recognise that there is nothing to grasp at.

Breaking Bad has managed to build two characters - Walt and Jesse - that are every bit as nuanced and tragic as Don Draper. BB then has the most incredibly tight, twisting and suspenseful plot on top of that.
Mad Men, while admirable, is not nearly as ambitious as Breaking Bad.

Oct 11 11 - 9:52am
thinkywritey

And Don Draper doesn't get beaten up quite enough.

Oct 07 11 - 1:18pm
Frederick Douglass

i think breaking bad and mad men shud combine 4 a spectacular cable tv event crossover show! the epi would b entitled "breaking mad" or "bad men" or mayb "making brad". just some ideas 2 get the ball rollin on the name AMC ur welcome :) ne ways, the plot wud now consist of walt smokin a fat bowl of meth that transports him thru time back 2 the era of don drapes et al. then with his meth he helps peggy 2 get extra skinny and find a man and also kills the parents of the dude that infected him w/ cancer so he never gets cancer!! AMC get at may! this idea © f. dougie MMXI

Oct 07 11 - 6:09pm
faulknersaysrelax

Don't run your moment of glory into the ground, pal. I went to bat for you in the Please Advise thread, but this is starting to seem less funny.

Oct 07 11 - 3:02pm
Kim

"Mad Men's writing is excellent for how it makes us like a leading man who does unlikeable things; Breaking Bad's is excellent for how it make us hate a man for whom we once had boundless sympathy"

Great bit of writing right there. It's incredible how naturally they evolved that. I didn't even notice how much I had grown to detest this man until that scene where he blows up the car that Skyler wouldn't let Walter Jr keep. In season 2 that would be an incredibly cool move and I would have applauded it as such but when it happened in that episode this year I was basically rolling my eyes and begging the writers (out loud, in my living room) not to reward him with an explosion to cooly walk away from.

Oct 07 11 - 5:55pm
jota

Breaking Bad is the best show in the history of television, hands down.

Jun 12 12 - 4:22pm
David

someone hasn't watched the wire. It's no contest. The wire>all other shows, ever.

Oct 07 11 - 8:59pm
LM

I kind of think that people who think Mad Men is shallow and two dimensional just...don't...get it. Mad Men is a show, don't tell kind of show. Sorry if you need a blunt instrument.

Oct 09 11 - 11:14am
Iris

No, no. We get it, we just think it's overhyped and essentially superficial.
I love atmospheric movies, and slow ones at that, like Zodiac, which is Fincher's masterpiece, and yet Mad Men, though entertaining (especially S1 & 4) and pleasantly melancholy, doesn't say anything I haven't heard or SEEN before and doesn't stir me.
For a deep look at the psyche of the 50's and 60's white male I recommend reading "Revolutionary Road". It is profoundly unsettling, infinitely more truthful and poignant to this day.
For Mad Men you go for an elegant night in and for Lipstick admiration.

Oct 07 11 - 9:01pm
LM

Also, I've thought that Walt was essentially brutal since the first episode of Breaking Bad, I didn't realize we weren't supposed to realize that til later.

Oct 07 11 - 9:31pm
oddrid

Jon Hamm wins over Bryan Cranston? Cranston doesn't have three Emmys to Hamm's zero for no reason, dude. Bryan Cranston is a modern day legend. Breaking Bad is the superior show, by far.

Oct 07 11 - 9:39pm
oddrid

Also: "Mad Men's writing is excellent for how it makes us like a leading man who does unlikeable things; Breaking Bad's is excellent for how it make us hate a man for whom we once had boundless sympathy."

But don't you see how that makes Breaking Bad superior? With MM we are once again asked to identify with and pull for a privileged douche bag who is "complicated" and therefore for some reason deserving of our praise. BB on the other hand is unflinching, but still manages to inspire sympathy for Walt completely in spite of ourselves, making us question our morality with every episode (although I think that sympathy is going to be pretty much extinguished next episode, if my guess is correct). I can think of SO MANY shows that have pulled off what Mad Men does with Don Draper, and not a single one as daring as Breaking Bad.

Oct 08 11 - 10:34am
Jonathan Weed

I do see how that makes Breaking Bad superior. That's why it won that category.

Oct 08 11 - 1:48am
Al

You should really take a poll and find out what your readers think. And post the results. My vote. Breaking Bad. The show actually scares me.

Oct 08 11 - 10:05am
Pastor of Muppets

I'm surprised to hear people talking about Walt's slow arc into the abyss. This is the man who killed a guy tied to a pole in Jessie's basement in S01 and, let's be frank, was shrewd enough almost immediately to see meth as a cash cow he could exploit. I love Walt because you know under his Ned Flander-ish facade, he has always been aching to get revenge -- on his ex partners who stole his idea, on his crappy middle-class life, his lost potential. Providing for his family gave him a perfect excuse to embrace that dark side of him.

Mad Men had me in S01 and 02 and Draper's wardrobe makes me drool, but by S03 it had run out of steam. I think his sequence in the tropics with the strange beautiful girl and her surreal family was the show's shark-jump.

And for argument's sake, yes The Wire is the greatest show in TV history. Breaking Bad is second and Rescue Me is third. The Sopranos would have been number one if they had stopped at S04. Still the saddest excuse for an ending ever.

Oct 08 11 - 10:33am
Cory

I love both, but Breaking Bad is my favorite show of all-time, unless the ending sucks and then that title returns to The Wire...

Oct 08 11 - 11:13am
Guy Budziak

I HATE AMC the movie channel. But I'll be the first to admit that both Mad Men and Breaking Bad are two undeniably outstanding television shows. And I'm not about to choose one over the other, because both have given me pleasure in equal measure. Both are brilliantly written and performed, and I look forward to seeing them through to their respective finales. And I am also one of those who put The Wire on a pedestal, but since that's been and gone for a while now I'll have to make do its successors.

Oct 08 11 - 2:12pm
Ryan Fernand

I stopped reading after you said Jon Hamm was better than Bryan Cranston. They both play similar characters (they are not very likeable characters) yet Walter White is the type of guy that it becomes heartbreaking when he does something bad whereas Don Draper is the type of guy that becomes offputting (and more unlikeable) when he does something bad. If Hamm was anywhere close in skill to Cranston, Draper wouldn't be such an unlikeable guy. They are both doing great work but Bryan Cranston is giving the greatest performance in television history.

Oct 09 11 - 11:30am
Iris

Agreed. BC and WW are superior on every level.

Don Draper is a character, Walter White is flesh and blood.
WW is a horribly flawed man, one which the show and actor keep challenging us to relate to him, whilst continually pushing the envelope. It is a satisfyingly agonizing process, deeper perhaps than anything we've seen before, certainly in terms of identification. And yes, I include Tony Soprano in that statement.

Don Draper is cool, and oh so stylishly flawed, and there is hardly any truth to his character (except his relationship with Peggy, but that's mainly due to Moss' work).
Do you know a man like Don? Have you ever met someone like him in your life? No, you haven't. But your next door neighbor may well be Walter White.

Oct 09 11 - 10:25pm
amie

I think the writer's wrong and might even be "on the wrong side of history" concerning the deeper themes in Breaking Bad. Breaking Bad is so timely given its emphasis on the economy, health care, the decline of the American Dream, etc. While Mad Men offers a great escape from everything and is saying something about gender, I'm willing to bet that years from now, people are going to call Breaking Bad the more important show of the two.

Oct 13 11 - 5:05pm
Windy

I agree. Within its simple story structure, Breaking Bad explores notions of contemporary masculinity and the culture of materialism in America. Every action in the series deals with the central thematic concern – What kind of man ‘wins’ in this society and what is the personal and ethical cost of achieving the American dream?

Oct 10 11 - 12:15pm
aa

after the Wire-as my all time favorite, i haven't been pulled into a show till breaking bad.

Oct 11 11 - 9:58am
thinkywritey

Okay you guys win: I'll watch "The Wire." I personally think "Carnivale" was the best show ever on "television" (does HBO really count?), but this thread has convinced me to do a Wire-a-thon.

Oct 13 11 - 4:56pm
Jojo

Here's the bottom line: I like Mad Men...I love the attention to detail...wardrobe, sets, music, etc. I want to know what's going to become of Don Draper, the new agency and all of its employees. But I would never, ever, EVER sit through s second viewing of all its seasons. Breaking Bad I've watched in its entirety about three or four times now. I've recommended it to everyone I know and everyone I recommended to gets back to me thanking me for it. The story lines, the characters, the unpredictability make this the best show that has ever aired on TV with The Shield right on its heels. Walt and Jesse eat Mad Men for dinner!!

Oct 13 11 - 5:15pm
jerry

I guess the "vs" game was inevitable. Yes, the Wire was a wonderful show (probably the best at the time and for some time to come). And while Men Men is intriguing and smart and funny, it's really about reflection. There's no real insight. There's nothing moving about the characters in Mad Men - we just watch them and are entertained. They never surprise us. They rarely even amaze us (except when Sterling or Cooper or whoever threw up - that was great and very surprising - unless of course you actually worked in an advertising agency and know that people were drunk and throwing up all over the place in the 50s/60s (in the 70s it was cocaine, so everyone stopped throwing up).
The real love story is in Breaking Bad - the "connection" between Walter and Jesse is so visceral and so moving and so difficult that it's often painful to watch - and very disturbing at all times (i refer you to the final scene in the final episode of Season 4). Mad Men is to Breaking Bad as Stephen Colbert/Jon Stewart are to Marcel Proust. Breaking Bad is a deep exploration of the human mind and the human heart and the strange connections we make throughout our lives. JoJo is exactly right. Who would want to sit through Mad Men more than once? Mad Men gives us something to watch. Breaking Bad gives ua great deal to think about (as did the Wire). It has a completely flat affect, makes no social comment and judges no one. It just is. I can't think of another television show (or movie for that matter) with as much depth. And as an extra added bonus, the cinematography in Bad Men is stunning - and always captures the mood and advances the story line.

Oct 13 11 - 5:25pm
jerry

BTW, Jon Hamm vs Bryan Cranston? Seriously? Bryan Cranston is almost unrecognizable in Breaking Bad. Is this the same guy as Malcolm in the Middle? It is a great, probably once-in-a-lifetime portrayal and performance. He doesn't get under the skin of Walter White, he takes on the skin of Walter White. I'm sorry, but icon or not, Jon Hamm is a very good looking stiff - or to paraphrase a famous New Yorker review, he runs the gamut of emotions from A to B. And is if all that weren't enough, there's Aaron Paul's portrayal of Jesse Pinkman. Breaking Bad is incomparable.

Oct 13 11 - 6:22pm
Jojo

Breaking Bad just finished its penultimate season...quite beautifully I may add. I cannot begin to imagine what they're going to do next season. The writing, the cinematography (they're always pushing the envelope with ultra-creative shots), the acting, the editing is top notch...every facet of this show is tremendous! To compare Breaking Bad to Mad Men is to compare The Sopranos to boring-ass Big Love!
Even the Sopranos had tons of episodes where they would finish and you'd be left disappointed because nothing eventful happened. Not Breaking Bad...every episode is almost a mini-masterpiece and could easily be expanded into a feature film premise. The episode "Hand full of Nothing" (1st season - Walt appears bald for first time- blows up Tuco's office) is perhaps the best hour of television ever filmed. The structure and storytelling involved would make Tarantino envious. If you can come up with a show where you absolutely don't know what's going to happen next...you've got a hit on your hands! Breaking Bad will always deliver on that promise. WANT TO KNOW WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN ON THE NEXT SEASON OF MAD MEN? Don Draper is going to get some new accounts, he's going to lose some accounts, he's going to sleep with some women he doesn't care about, someone will probably get fired and there's going to be a whole lotta smoking and drinking going on.....Yawn.

Oct 13 11 - 7:09pm
Terranova

Dude, crystal meth/crank/tina/tweek reveals itself as a crystalline white powder or in glass shards.

Older, less refined cooks, usually the mom 'n pop variety occasionally produced an ochre or light brown variety, called peanut butter or chicken shit crank. But that's a generation ago, long before anyone at DEA could prefigure a Mexican superlab.

In your design subhead the blue you described in Walt and Jesse's meth is oil in a glass beaker, not finished product.

Meth comes in blue as often as coke or Incan Inspiration comes in violet.

Oct 18 11 - 11:50pm
Ruth

I can understand how so many of you super smart (S-M-R-T) hipsters don't really 'get' Mad Men, or you think it is 2-d, or you think it is elegant fluff. You probably haven't ever met someone like Don Draper (clean and gainfully employed) so you can't even imagine a real person like that exists so you are blaming Jon Hamm for not convincing you. It might also be that you are just haters that are incapable of liking beautiful people and write anyone or anything attractive off as vapid or weak. Lots of sociopaths do that. I can tell you, however, that men, more or less, like Don (clean and gainfully employed) really do exist. I married one, but as I am not a silly woman who would have considered voting for a Kennedy, he doesn't need to cheat on me.

Oct 19 11 - 11:54pm
linda

So Ruth you're saying you voted for Nixon, another clean, gainfully employed man. Could you take a moment to read some of the intelligent, insightful comments written about the differences between Mad Men and Breaking Bad in order for you to realize no cares about you, your husband or whether or not he's cheating on you. You Imbecil!!

Oct 20 11 - 9:09am
Aggie

Wow, Ruth, this has got to be one of the most retarded comments I've had the pleasure of reading on the internet, ever.
Your inability to actually phrase an intelligent case for Mad Men to the point where you need to resort to name calling and weird suburban housewife fact dropping (your husband is *just* like Draper, gosh!) really doesn't do much to help depict Mad Men the superior show and its viewers anything but vapid.

Nov 27 11 - 7:53pm
Rob

Come on, the sleaziest lawyer on tv was Maurice Levy from The Wire (in my opinion of course).

Dec 13 11 - 11:09pm
wedding party dresse

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Jan 24 12 - 3:31am
Chelsea

Wow. There's no comparison between these two shows. Although I liked Mad Men in the very beginning the shows writers quickly bought into their own hype and the show has suffered because of it. I only watch it now, I mean when it finally comes back on, because I liked it so much in the beginning. The past couple seasons have been absolute busts. It is, without a doubt, style over substance.

Breaking Bad is, like another poster said, both style and substance. It is an extraordinary show with extraordinary writing. The writing is really the most important thing. Acting is important, but it means very little if the writing is poor and it is poor on Mad Men.

Although some will probably disagree with me I just can't see how anyone could think that the writing on Mad Men is even close in quality to that of Breaking Bad. To each his own but it's hard for me to believe that people think that what Mad Men has become is anything more than a show that bought it's own hype and is style first, substance a distant second. I don't care if the writers room is female dominated if the output is poor.

Feb 03 12 - 5:23am
Derrick

I'm going to be in the minority here and say Mad Men. I'm not going to throw around nothings like "it's a thinking man's show", "you just don't get it", etc., I love both shows, I just like Mad Men more. Acting is about equal. Cranston is better than Hamm not denying that. Mad Men has stronger writing though. I often feel like I'm watching otherwise ordinary people implode from the inside out.

BB kind of lost sight of itself and stopped being a drama around Season 3 when Walt turned into a bona fide drug dealer, and especially Season 4 where it turned into a crime thriller. Walt vs. Gus vs. the Mexicans, who will come out on top??? It's still good, but not amazing like the earlier seasons where you really see this guy grappling with sh** circumstances and turning bad. Mad Men didn't have this problem.

Also on a personal note episodes like The Suitcase, the Carousel scene, and Sal's storyline are better than anything I've seen in BB.

Feb 13 12 - 7:34pm
Anonymous

In my opinion 'Breaking Bad' is the clear winner as it has an intricately plotted narrative where no detail is missed, for example, the revelation about Gael Bettecker having 'that' napkin in his apartment and how that lead to a possible break in the 'Heisenberg' case. Many people would not have even considered this as a plot thread as it may very well have not even entered their minds, this is the kind of detailed storytelling that proves 'Breaking Bad' to be a clear representation of what is bold and new on television today.
Also 'Breaking Bad's' five year plan to achieve something that has never been achieved on television before, a character metamorphosis from 'protagonist' to 'antagonist' and how that affects the audience witnessing that change, is something to be marvelled. This is not only something that has never been achieved before, but it has never been attempted and so in that sense this show is far superior to 'Mad Men' as it is truly unique and goes against the standard televisual formula and presents a new, innovative and intriguing way of telling a story.
Also, 'Breaking Bad' does not need to find a real scenario/ era in which to base its narrative, the writers found their own situation, in a contemporary time in order to make a real comment about when we live and not simply remind us of times gone by.

Feb 16 12 - 6:30pm
Nina

Mad Man is candy. Thinking man's show? What a horrible mischaracterization. It's not in any way in the league with Breaking Bad.

Feb 22 12 - 12:15am
JackBurton

Mad Men S1 is very good. The first half of S2 is great, but from the time the affair stops with Bobby, it's weak. A lot of cliches. I mean it's still better than 97% of dramas but I definitely think Breaking Bad is just a bit better. I will always think Sopranos is the best because it has so many episodes that could crush mostly any episode of any other show. It's constant quality. The Wire is just ridiculous story telling and almost a docudrama because of it's accuracy. Breaking Bad has a cool story, 2 actors who could easily take best lead and supporting for Emmy's/Golden Globe each time, and manages to be every bit as funny as it is tragic. For me it's Sopranos/The Wire 2a Breaking Bad 2b along with Deadwood, Mad Men, 6FU, Dexter all in the mix.

Mar 28 12 - 7:07pm
Coffeedude

To even consider that Dexter is on the same level as Breaking Bad is almost comical. Dexter is about as 3-dimesional of a character as Dr. House, not to mention it's a cliche of a trope (We love him but we hate him). The whole appeal of Cranston's character is that you really can't tell how to feel. That is really what it does best: It makes you ambivalent towards its main character. Besides, the music is great, the writing is great (Stephen King calls it "the best scripted show on television"), the casting is fabulous (I like how no one has mention the aplomb with which BB goes about using people who aren't movie stars, *cough* Dexter, and who just look like normal people) and the cinematography is on par with any Hollywood movie, and better than most. Not to mention, I've never watched an episode of BB bad and though to myself, as I did so many times in LOST, "I wish that they would stop stalling and just move the plot forward". Save for "The Fly" in season 3, which was still a fantastic episode, there has never been an episode of the show that didn't satisfy me and come off as "filler". Vince Gilligan himself said that he never wants the show to become something that people say things like: "*Groan*. That's still on the air?". He wants it to go out and leave people asking "Wow. I wish that was still on." As sad as that day may be, it will be bitter sweet, kind of like going into rehab. Just keep reassuring yourself that it's for the best.

Mar 28 12 - 7:10pm
Coffeedude

**Or rather, who don't look like movie stars. Bryan Cranston isn't exactly a heart throb. The closest thing to it would be Jessy, and he is a sterling actor. I applaud the writers for not killing him off during the first season like they originally intended to.

Mar 29 12 - 9:21pm
Atlas

Fools and fan-boys, this is a point-less article used only to stir the pot and start a flame-war. The shows are like apples and oranges; both Breaking Bad and Mad Men are fantastic. The shows have both come a long way and have a fantastic 3-d cast that deserve recognition when due.

Apr 26 12 - 6:19am
Sharnie

I love Breaking Bad, absolutely love it. Only saw it for the first time last week, who knows why. Bought the whole lot, watching OCD. Can't believe it's out there. So good, so many episodes to see.

May 07 12 - 11:24am
Otto

I'm a big fan of both BB and MM and believe it to be pointless to compare them. They're way too different. It's a fun article but I'm surprised by the comments. Usually I see really intelligent discourse about both and yet here it seems fans of one show want to needlessly bash on the other show. For what purpose?

I knew giving the nod to Hamm over Cranston would be a huge issue. That must have been done purposefully to generate comments, right? Honestly, I feel they're of equal talent. BB is overall a higher stakes drama - Cranston as White has grasped with committing murder and faced death numerous times. He's given more of an extreme range of emotions to act out and always does so extraordinaly well. However I think anyone who's seen an episode like "The Suitcase" can claim that Hamm easily displays just as much variety.

Aug 02 12 - 1:48pm
droog

I get a lot of replies that Mad Men is dull, boring, etc. etc. whenever I mention how great the show is. The thing about Mad Men is it's a show about more-or-less ordinary people going on about their daily lives. We're used to seeing weekly deaths and explosions on shows like Walking Dead or Breaking Bad. (The closest that anyone gets to dying on screen in Mad Men is someone getting run over by a lawn-mower.) The action in Mad Men is not in gunfights or explosions but rather in the tension among the characters as they balance their personal and professional lives. (For example, Don Draper's austere office presence versus his shaky past, which as the show progresses reveals a very fragile identity.) Mad Men is set in a slow and ordinary pace so that when a big revelation or change occurs, it is that much more exciting and dramatic.

Aug 15 12 - 11:05pm
Timmy

Breaking Bad takes the cake, no contest. Mad Men is pretentious. Breaking Bad is intelligent. There is a big difference. And to the "cartoony" argument...

I am familiar with people in those circles, and let me tell you that people like Tuco aren't exactly non-existent.

Aug 15 12 - 11:11pm
Timmy

Oh, and to give Don Draper the win over Walter White is the epitome of stupidity. Don Draper's an interesting and complex character. But Walter White is much more so. Not to mention Bryan Cranston's a far superior actor. He's undefeated at the Emmys. He won an Emmy for Best actor every year Breaking Bad was on air, for Season 1, 2, 3, 4. All of them. Now, I know that you're not a complete idiot and know that counts for something.

Aug 23 12 - 2:55pm
Danny

Friend after watching about five minutes of BB: "This is the weirdest episode of Malcolm in the Middle I've ever seen!"

Aug 29 12 - 8:00pm
Rosalinda Mesta

You guys know that Walking Dead was my favorite show at first until I saw that on www.formvote.com Breaking Bad kept on winning? lol I'm just saying.