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The Wire and Breaking Bad compared,
This review is from: The Wire: Complete HBO Season 1-5 [DVD] (DVD)
I watched The Wire on the recommendation of numerous friends who said it was better than Breaking Bad, which I had trouble believing at the time.
Having now watched the entire series from start to finish in 9 days, I have finally concluded that 'The Wire' and 'Breaking Bad' are equally outstanding pieces of television. They are very different from each other, so the biggest surprise after watching The Wire is that the two are compared so frequently, and judged against each other, as if one of them has to win.
For me, The Wire is reminiscent of 'old school' police drama (Hill Street Blues, NYPD Blue, etc) but taken to an entirely new level of realism. Unlike those, you don't necessarily root for the police as the 'good guys' (and some of the traditional 'good guys' are truly vile characters in The Wire). It's the the intricacies and complexities of the plot that keep you hooked throughout, so much so that it doesn't really matter that the 'key' character focus changes from series to series.
Breaking Bad, by contrast, was more unique in it's concept and it's not easy to find anything to directly compare it with. It's this originality that makes it stand out so much. Compared to The Wire, it's centred around a smaller group of characters, and seeing the evolution of the relationships between them is a big part of the draw that keeps you watching, as you literally have no idea where it's heading next. It's the more 'character-centric' of the two, but still feels more original in concept.
Ultimately, there's no need to pick 'a winner' between the two, as both are outstanding, and groundbreaking in their own way. Both are definitely worth the time investment.