Mad Men vs. Breaking Bad

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the person who got Jana and I to start watching Mad Men. You know who you are. Thank you.

We started watching Breaking Bad before Mad Men. Whereas we've already consumed all 5 Mad Men seasons available to us through Netflix, we've hardly progressed past Breaking Bad season 2. The following are the reasons.

Mad Men has brilliant character development. Each character is multifaceted and shown in a variety of situations, exposing their depth. Breaking Bad has static, two-dimensional characters, who always have the same problems, the same shallow relationships, and behave the exact same way.

Mad Men follows what might be plausible life stories of professionals in the 1960s. The narrative develops naturally, one never has the impression it's contrived or forced. Despite that, the story manages to be titillating, interesting, amusing, thought provoking, and diverse; sometimes stunning.

In Breaking Bad, the narrative is contrived and forced. The characters keep running into unnecessary, arbitrary setbacks, just so the story can reset itself, and keep going. The characters don't learn from their mistakes; they don't improve. The relationships between them don't change. They just keep bumbling about and falling over themselves, in one incident less probable than the other, just so the story writers don't have to shift gear, and events can continue to unfold in the same pattern.

Mad Men is about mastery of script with subtlety and nuance. Breaking Bad is about as subtle as a jackhammer, and about as nuanced as a nail in the head.

We're currently stuck at a Breaking Bad episode where the characters experience yet another arbitrary, completely contrived setback, just so the status quo can be prolonged for another few seasons. Meanwhile, we can hardly wait for Mad Men season 6, when it comes out on Blu-Ray. Or even season 3 of Game of Thrones.

Edit: Several months later, we finally gathered the willpower to keep watching Breaking Bad, and it surprised us. It went in a much better direction than we feared. I posted a retraction of the above here.


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