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Was “Breaking Bad” Better Than “The Sopranos?”

    January 11, 2014
    Daryl Nelson
    Comments are off for this post.

For those Netflix customers who need their Walter White fix, they won’t have to wait too long, because the comapny just announced that it will be releasing the final eight episodes of “Breaking Bad” for streaming. So for those who want to re-live all the craziness of the last season they’ll be able to do so on Feb. 24, according to The Huffington Post.

It’s been almost four months now since the show about a teacher turned meth-dealer went off the air, and ever since, loyal fans have been dying to get their hands on the final season to see if they can pick up anything that they missed before. And if you’ve never seen the show before, Feb 24 will be a great time to experience all the drama and humor the show has to offer, and you can also include yourself in the many “Breaking Bad” conversations that seem to happen at just about every workplace and dinner table.

Since the show went off the air, many people on social media and on blogs have asked if “Breaking Bad” is better than “The Sopranos?” If Walter White is more compelling than Tony Soprano. And what if you compared Skyler White to Carmella Soprano, which character was it easier to feel empathy for, and which actress played the role more convincingly?

And if you took a look at the rest of the supporting characters, which ones were more interesting to watch? Chrissy Moltisanti or Jesse Pinkman? Hank Schrader or Paulie Walnuts? And finally, which of the series’ plot lines rang more true? The questions could go on forever and one could probably come up with a million hard-to-call comparisons, because both shows were incredible.

But based on this writer’s take, “The Sopranos” wins the prize every time, although I’m sure many people would disagree. For one, the story lines were a little more realistic, as Walter White and company did a lot of improbable-made-for-TV-things to get out of jams. “The Sopranos” did the same at times, but far less frequently. For example, reality might have been stretched a little when the mob characters did a “hit” and all they did was clean up the blood and not worry about the DNA. But for the most part, the “The Sopranos” was more gritty, had darker, yet funnier story lines and the writer’s added a philosophical component to each episode than “Breaking Bad” didn’t have, which is not an easy feat when you’re writing a show about a bunch of sociopaths.

Don’t get me wrong, “Breaking Bad” was obviously right up there with “The Sopranos,” in terms of quality and plot twists, but due to the fact that AMC wasn’t able to show as much as HBO, I think “Breaking Bad” suffered a bit for it, and “The Soprano’s” writers had little more room to be creative.

But either way, you can judge for yourself next month when you sit back, grab some good eats and enjoy “Breaking Bad’s” last eight episodes. And when you’re done, watch a bit of the “The Sopranos” and make the comparison yourself, but both shows were so well-made it might be hard to make a final decision. Unless of course you’re just a bigger fan of one show over the other. Then your decision will be easy. It’ll be biased, but it’ll definitely be easy.

Image via YouTube


  • Will Cox

    Breaking Bad was a very enjoyable show. I enjoyed it enough to watch it twice, but it doesn't even hold a candle to The Sopranos. The Sopranos had something to say. It was relentless commentary on the hypocrisy and decay in the American family, and much more. It was also expertly shot, and even the smallest characters and scenarios were well thought-out and written.

    Breaking Bad was good in spite of itself. It had novelty going for it, but a couple of its really standout performances carried almost ALL of its weight. Walt's entire family is made up very weakly written, one-and-half-dimensional characters (Hank's paralysis, Walter Jr's disability, Marie's kleptomania, Skyler's cheating) ; and several of its scenarios are far too contrived for it to be called "greatest show ever", so blindly, by so many. There are TONS of things to say in favor of The Sopranos over Breaking Bad, but comparing the writing for Carmella to the writing for Skyler is, to me, what best exemplifies the massive quality difference in the two shows as a whole. I'll give Breaking Bad that is has more mass appeal, but The Sopranos is simply the more intelligent show (the former being BECAUSE of the latter).

    • TLP2222

      I couldn’t have put it any better myself.

      The Sopranos — well, The Sopranos’ writers — always treated the plot points as something secondary to the characters, whereas Breaking Bad and all other shows do the opposite. That’s why The Sopranos is also the most re watchable of all the shows. It doesn’t rely on shock value or set pieces; instead it creates a world for us to observe. (Spoiler Alert): once you know Gus dies, Season 4 of Breaking Bad loses a lot of its weight. Can the same be said about some of the deaths in The Sopranos?

      Then there’s the fact that it’s better acted, better shot, and far more comical and sad when it needs to be. Did Breaking Bad ever do anything as funny as seeing Phil Leotardo tell his once-removed nephew that he looks like a Puerto Rican whore?

      • Sturm Jeff

        After Gus died it got even more interesting what are you talking about? Remember the train episode? When did the Sopranos ever kill a kid? Never,. BB did a fantastic job of tying up lose ends which was far superior to how they ended the soprano’s. ALSO, BB was VERY accurate with regard to everything from making meth to disposing of bodies. Soprano’s didn’t have that feeling about it. To me, watching the Soprano’s now is like watching Mash. Its old, outdated and unbelievable at best. When i watch BB, it feels and is more real and accurate all the way around. Even the DEA worked with them to build a real meth lab so the show was no BS. Sorry but I feel even Sons of anarchy is better then Soprano’s. And i said it before, Game of Thrones blows them all away!

        • TLP2222

          I think you misunderstood me. I’m saying season 4 loses its rewatch value when you know whether Gus or Walt dies. Season 5 was definitely the best season of the show, but again, when you know the plot it starts to lose its effect.

          It wasn’t like that with The Sopranos. The plots come second to the characters, whereas it’s the other way ’round in almost every other show, including Breaking Bad.

    • Sturm Jeff

      OMG are you kidding me? I fell asleep to the Soprano’s! Sorry but the Soprano’s cannot hold a candle to breaking bad. From the writing right down to the explicit material, Breaking bad hands down! Way more powerful and Walter White would own Tony soprano No problem. If he wanted Tony would end up a pile of goo in the bottom of a barrel! As he did to so many who crossed his path!

      • YourPrivateCarnage

        Is this a joke?

        • Sturm Jeff

          Only joke is putting the soprano’s in the same league as Breaking bad! I hated the soprano’s, not near the drama nor realizim as BB had! Not to mention, BB set a new standard of excellence. You obviously did not watch the who series or you wouldn’t be arguing with me right now! I would even say that Sons of Anarchy is better then the Soprano’s was and Game of thrones destroys EVERYONE!

          • YourPrivateCarnage

            “Realism” is relative, though I still wouldn’t make the argument that Breaking Bad is the more realistic of the two.

            No point in continuing this discussion though, as you evidently have the maturity and attention span of a fourteen year old.

            Good day.

          • Sturm Jeff

            Awe factor is everything nowadays, I was never awed by The Soprano’s sorry!

          • Will Cox

            This is a joke and you are a troll, or The Sopranos is entirely over your head. There are no other explanations for your opinions.

      • Oz

        So the litmus for you is which main character would kick the others’ ass? You epitomize what Vince Gilligam has called the “bad fan” – the viewer who appreciates BB for all the wrong reasons. It’s understandable, then, that the Soprabos would fair poorly by the same litmus. But wow, that’s way more a referendum on you as a an audience member than either show. Your standards epitomize intellectual laziness. As Tony might say, snap out of it!

        • Will Cox

          Thank you! “but did the Sopranos ever kill a kid?” … As if that’s some kind of metric of quality.

    • Sturm Jeff

      LOL More intelligent show? Most of the chit they did on that show was FAKE. From the way they hit to the way they bombed, all Hollywood! BB on the other hand was made to be very true to life in every way. How is the soprano’s more intelligent? When the facts in it are all BS? Even the DEA worked with BB to make it as authentic as possible. What did Soprano’s/Tony do that was even close to what Walter white achieved? Mafia vs chemist…Wow , You might want to watch it a third time, Maybe it was TOO INTELLECTUAL for you! A moron can watch Soprano’s and get it, I can’t say the same for BB!

  • Steven Anthony

    Breaking Bad is quite easily the greatest show ever made. The cast, the characters, the setting, the music they chose in iconic scenes, the cinematography, and the writing is unmatched. I’m watching the Sopranos right now, enjoying it, but it just doesn’t have the power that Breaking Bad had. There are many parts that are just slow and boring. Incoherent story telling at times. Breaking Bad was so amazing it inspired Anthony Hopkins to write a letter about how great it was.

    • Whadyatalkinabout

      Can you give any examples of the story-telling in The Sopranos being incoherent? It’s very often intentionally ambiguous, but if you actually think it ever gets “incoherent” you’re simply missing something. It’s a much deeper and more subtle show than Breaking Bad, so there’s a lot more to miss. I don’t mean that as an insult to Breaking Bad; it’s just a more action oriented show. The Sopranos spends a great deal of time highlighting subtle traits of the characters and their motivations. The parts you find “slow and boring” are where a lot of the answers are.

      • Steven Anthony

        It’s very difficult to find out what is going on. When they talk business you can get the gist of what is going on but not really. I couldn’t figure out why they blew up that guys restaurant in the first season. Then they explain it way down the road. Then Tony is out to kill Junior and his mother but we’re supposed to just forget about it in the second season. It made no sense. The writers just decided that they would keep those characters around and it was forced.
        I find myself getting bored and saying, “Who is that guy they just mentioned again?”. That isn’t good writing. I’m not invested in the characters. I don’t care if Tony dies, I don’t care if Christopher dies. It’s just not interesting. There is nothing subtle about strangling someone to death because he snitched. Some of the psychology stuff is interesting but even those scenes are sort of dry. I’ve watched through season 3 and I haven’t even put in disc one of season 4 to check it out. This story is going nowhere. Good writers make the viewer invested in the characters. I simply don’t find any of the characters all that interesting.

        • Pauliewalnuts

          You are not paying attention when you’re watching The Sopranos then. They very clearly explain why they blow up the restaurant in the very first episode. Junior wants to take a guy out in Vesuvio which is owned by Tony’s childhood friend Artie Bucco. Tony tries to get Artie to go on vacation while it happens so the restaurant is closed but he doesn’t end up leaving. So they blow up the restaurant so that Artie can collect the insurance money and Junior will have to find another place to make the hit. Tony and Junior are never really on good terms after he tries to kill him in season one, but they have to pretend that they are in order for the family to conduct their business in a productive way. Tony realizes it makes more sense to keep Junior alive in order to keep peace within the family. He gets to be acting boss while Junior is technically boss but under house arrest. Everything in The Sopranos is so well crafted but you actually have to pay attention while watching it which you clearly are not doing if you haven’t picked up on these things.

          • Sturm Jeff

            But did they ever kill a kid? I don’t think so and thats what made BB better, Way more powerful topics! I mean really what does the sopranos have against Gustavo??????? NOTHING!!!!!!!! And Walter White as a character was pure genius!

        • Will Cox

          You are definitely just missing lots of things. The situation with Tony/Junior/Livia IS followed through logically. You aren’t asked to just forget about anything for season 2, so I’m not sure what you’re talking about there. The motivation for the restaurant fire is very clearly and repeatedly explained, so again you just don’t seem like you’re paying attention to what’s happening.
          It’s quite possible it’s just not a show for you, but when you call it “bad writing” that’s absolutely bonkers.

          • Steven Anthony

            You’re right, it isn’t my kind of show. I thought it would be because I loved Goodfellas. The Departed it also a great film that deals with the mob. I don’t see how anyone could say The Sopranos is a deeper show than Breaking Bad. Breaking Bad touches on so many themes in human nature. The greed of Walter White, the things we do in life that we think will make us happy but don’t, the regret some of us carry and how we wish we could change the past. Breaking Bad was something special. A once in a lifetime show. I could never forget the scene where Walt watches Jane die or the scene where Jesse shoots Gale in the face. On the surface those are horrible things, it’s the circumstances that build up to those moments that make this show spectacular. You have to reflect and ask yourself what you would do in that situation. That is satisfying. I have a hard time relating to Tony Soprano. A depressed psychopath that would smother his own mother one minute and then acts like nothing happened a few episodes later. The Sopranos is a show of gratuitous violence. It became a show about who is going to die next. It gets so old that it starts to not even matter. I didn’t give a damn about what happened to any of the characters.

          • YourPrivateCarnage

            Really? I thought the violence in The Sopranos had a strong moral weight attached to it; nearly all of the characters are eventually obliterated due to their own brutality and weaknesses. Tony’s is NOT a psychopath, that’s pretty much one of the key points of the show. He’s essentially a good person who drives himself into being a monster because doing so is easier than facing his weaknesses/mistakes and changing for the better. It’s pretty obvious throughout the series that Tony suspects he made the wrong decision about getting involved with “the life” and experiences significant angst over this. The Sopranos is, even at it’s weakest, a masterful character study. Breaking Bad is excellent, it simply doesn’t achieve the same depth, in any regard. This is no bad thing, but I always got the impression that The Sopranos was trying to dig at an authentic human truth in a sincere and intelligent way, something I never experienced while watching Breaking Bad. Mad Men is also incredible in this regard.

            And it’s also better than Breaking Bad.

          • Doksan

            I haven’t seen any episode of Breaking Bad. I re watched Sopranos 4 times, many more in the future i believe. I came here because whether i should start watching BB or no. The best comparison would be from those people who like Sopranos a lot (like me)

            Someone says in here “sopranos not good to watch, i can’t catch whats going on” and the same person says “Breaking Bad is so good” I can easily say i no need to start BB show after this tangible comment.

    • D

      You’re dull as dishwater if that’s your opinion

      • Steven Anthony

        You have a way with words. Do you write for Leno?

    • Man O’Neal

      The Sopranos was a top notch show. And to be honest, I grew to appreciate it more and more after I finished watching it. That being said, I agree. Breaking Bad is/was on another level. The character development, the plot line, the pacing, the directing, the intensity, the acting, the emotional depth…all damn near flawless. There was never a dull moment throughout the whole series. Even when Walt was just sitting in his living room quietly sipping a scotch, it was captivating because it was imbued with all of the weight from things that he did beforehand. The whole show was just one, long build-up to the end of a tragic tale. Really, it was operatic. It was masterful.

  • JenkPac Shakur

    They’re better than eachother in different ways. As a pure entertainment product Breaking Bad wins in my estimation but for the best portrayal of realism Sopranoes takes the win easily. Both shows were of such amazingly ridiculous high levels of quality its really hard to say one is overall better than the other. Gandolfini and Cranston I’d say are eachother’s equals as actors if we compare the shows via their leading men. Breaking Bad’s use of the typical Nazi stereotype for “Uncle Jack” and his crew was annoying since real life racist groups like this no longer exist or are entirely composed of Mexicans ie Aryan Brotherhood. Thus I’d of much preferred Vince Gilligan have “Uncle Jack” and his crew simply be bikers but other than that and Walt’s elaborate way of killing them (stretching the realism/credibility factor) legitimate criticisms of Breaking Bad’s quality are very hard to make as the show is nearly flawless.

    • Will Cox

      Disagreeing with criticism doesn’t make it illegitimate. Breaking Bad is simultaneously very good, and very overrated.