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Because, while Breaking Bad is still my favorite TV show of all time, even I can count off some of its short-comings. And after watching the “just fine” (sorry!) Breaking Bad movie, El Camino, it gave me even more appreciation for Better Call Saul and everything it’s been offering fans now that Breaking Bad has been off the air since 2013. So here are 5 ways in which Better Call Saul is better than Breaking Bad. And hopefully by the end of this hot take, you’ll agree with me.
Kim Wexler Is A More Fleshed-out Secondary Character Than Jesse Pinkman
Look, I love Jesse Pinkman. He was the unwitting moral compass on Breaking Bad and his character arc from high school drop-out to man who finds redemption was one of the greatest highlights of the show. But here’s the truth—he always lived in Walt’s shadow. Even in El Camino, Walt’s presence loomed over him and you got the sense that his presence would always live over him, even by the end of the movie.
But Kim Wexler is her own person, through and through. One massive problem that Breaking Bad had was its treatment of women. At times, it almost felt misogynistic in its portrayal of Skylar and Marie. But Kim is a strong, independent woman who is her own character even outside of Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman. She speaks up for herself, gets the job done, and—here’s the important distinction between her and Jesse—she understands Jimmy.
Whereas it took Jesse quite some time to realize who Walt truly was as a person, Kim has known what Jimmy was from the very beginning, and she's been trying to manage Saul rather than run away from him. This might ultimately be her downfall, but there’s more hope for her than there was for Jesse since she definitely has her head on her shoulders more than Jesse ever did. There’s a reason why Vince Gilligan would like to make a spin-off show of Kim whereas Jesse only needed a movie to complete his story arc. She’s a more well-rounded character than Jesse. I’m sorry, but it’s true.
Jimmy McGill Is Easier To Root For Than Walter White
Has Jimmy McGill done some crappy things? Sure, mostly to Howard and his own brother. But you know what? You kind of felt like those two characters had it coming to them. If anything, “Slippin’ Jimmy” was being more mischievous and acting out against those characters for his own sense of survival. But is he a son of a bitch who poisons children? No!
But Walter White was that kind of guy. When I look back at Breaking Bad, I keep thinking back to what point of the show it was that I started to actually hate Walter White. Was it when he let Jane die? Was it when he poisoned Brock? Or was it when he made Jesse a killer? Whenever it was, by the end of the series, I couldn’t stand his guts. But I don’t feel that way about Jimmy. Even with him chucking bowling balls at Howard’s car, I still kind of root for him. He’s not a bad person. He just does bad things. And don't we all at times?
The Flash Forwards Give The Show More Hope Than Breaking Bad
Breaking Bad was a show that felt like it was coming to a dismal conclusion even from the very beginning. I mean, the show started off with a man who had terminal cancer so there was nowhere else for Walt to go but in the ground. But while the flash forwards aren’t looking good for Jimmy/Gene, there is still some hope.
While I don’t know if Jimmy is going to make it out of this series alive, we do get a sense that Jimmy might figure a way out of this bind since he’s a survivor. Breaking Bad was compelling because we got to watch Walt go deeper into the darkness, but Better Call Saul is even more compelling with the flash forwards because we’re seeing that Jimmy still has a chance at redemption, and he’s going to do it by his own terms. There’s still hope, and that’s great. We want him to succeed. I could never say the same for Walt.
The A and B Stories Are Very Different From Each Other
This might seem like a weak point in Better Call Saul, but it’s actually a strength. Breaking Bad did a great job of integrating the seedy underbelly of New Mexico with Walt’s story. But Better Call Saul has taken a different approach for the most part, having Jimmy’s A story mostly separate from Mike and Nacho’s B story.
So at times, when Jimmy’s A story was getting a little slow with the law business, we always had the intriguing cartel B story to fall back on, and vice versa when the cartel stuff was getting boring. With Breaking Bad, there were a few slow moments since the B stories often involved Walt Jr. or Skylar just coming to the realization that Walt wasn’t who he seemed to be. And now, the A and B stories on Better Call Saul are finally coming together, making for an exciting future ahead of the series that Breaking Bad kind of lacked.
Gus Fring Is A Much More Complex Character On BCS Than He Was On BB
And finally, can we all just admit that it’s wonderful that Gus’s character is being expanded upon so robustly on Better Call Saul? Gus came on the show about midway through Breaking Bad, and he was a dominating force for his entire duration of the series. But he was eliminated by the end of Season 4. Better Call Saul has been making Gus a much more complex, and more well-rounded character, showing us the lengths that he will go through to remain in the shadows.
What’s also great on Better Call Saul is that we’re actually able to see more inside of his head than we did on Breaking Bad. When he recently told Mike that he’s different from the people in the cartel, you really got a sense that he actually believed it. If anything, Better Call Saul has humanized Gus Fring more, and in doing so, it has made him even more terrifying, which I didn’t even think was possible.
But what do you think? Are there aspects of Better Call Saul that you think are better than Breaking Bad? Sound off in the comments.