If there’s one series that will always come up in conversation when talking about truly phenomenal TV, it’s Breaking Bad, the Emmy winning series that captivated fans and changed the TV game. Over five seasons, fans watched the iconic Walter White become one of the biggest characters on the small screen, and it’s no surprise that the show inspired a spin-off and a movie.
While Breaking Bad basks in the spotlight, there is another, its spinoff, that deserves the limelight. Since it’s 2015 debut, Better Call Saul has managed to outshine Breaking Bad in many categories and yet almost no one brings it up in the great debate. Here are ten ways the Breaking Bad spin-off is underrated.
Any media created in the film industry today will have the agenda of world-building that they try to follow. It allows them to expand upon a unique world, to make it grow as a universe, with Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad forming one singular universe.
Throughout Better Call Saul, connections and easter eggs are abundant, either in the form of characters like DA Agents or evil twins to prominent locations that will make any fan squeal with joy, this universe is a prime example of world-building done properly.
The Two Timelines
Part of the way to build universes is to try and connect two worlds together, in this case, the two worlds being Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad. While there are many ways to connect the worlds together, Better Call Saul chooses to create two different timelines.
One timeline takes place in the past, falling Jimmy’s rise and fall into Saul while the other follows him in hiding in the near future. The masterful merging the two series and timelines is something many shows fail to pull off.
Jimmy To Saul
Connections in the Breaking Bad universe don’t end at the timelines, characters, or even world. If anything, it’s expanded upon greatly with the change of Jimmy McGill to Saul Goodman, examining how an ex-con man became the sleazeball lawyer that he is.
The way that the series dives into the decline is far different than Breaking Bad, in the sense that the change is forever happening. There are many points and moments where Saul has started to emerge, moments so masterfully done, it’s amazing it doesn’t have more attention.
Shifts In Tone
A key element of making successful films and shows click is a shift in tone. Any movie or series can shift from comedy to drama or vice versa but only a select few can do it well enough where the transition is so smooth, audiences barely notice the change.
There are multiple moments where fans go from clutching their stomachs from laughter in one second at Jimmy’s antics and jokes to covering their mouths in shock at something unforgivable the next. It’s a juggling act so phenomenal, many overlook it.
It’s hard enough for a show to make the main characters interesting, let alone create side characters that manage to captivate and awe audiences, and yet this is something the lawyer drama manages to accomplish, with side characters that could carry their own show.
Prominently, Nacho Varga is an interesting character who could very easily have his own show his character is so fascinating. Despite appearing a few times in the series, Varga is one of a few characters who manage to carry the show as much as the mains.
A show can be defined by many certain characters, the most recognizable of which is the villains. Villains are what brings the show together, providing antagonists that are twice as interesting as the protagonist, sometimes even stealing the spotlight from the heroes.
From recognizable villains like the deadly Salamanca Twins and mastermind Gus Fring to new baddies like the charming yet psychotic Lalo Salamanca, Better Call Saul is full of iconic and worthwhile villains who the set the bar for all series on how to do a villain properly.
Let it be said that in either Breaking Bad or Better Call Saul, there are no real heroes. There are good or morally driven people but even then, these people can be manipulated to the side of evil, and yet the show makes these heroes unique.
From the titular Saul Goodman to the good-natured brother Chuck McGill, the “heroes” of the series are full of their own strengths and flaws that define and set them apart, driving the show and the drama to a level that’s rare to see.
Never does a movie or show want to suffer from poor acting. Any form of Hollywood media wishes to strive to have the best of the best, to have strong, powerful performances that lift the show into the stratosphere and convince the audiences that these fictional characters are real.
Actors like Bob Odenkirk, Rhea Seehorn, and Jonathan Banks are just a few of many actors who sell their roles, making the personalities and lives of Saul Goodman, Kim Wexler, and Mike Ehrmantraut almost fly off the screen with profound performances.
In the end, a lot of the time, set pieces, acting, action, or anything else that makes up a film or series won’t matter if it’s not supported by good writing. If the writing is to a point where it manages to tell the story, characters, and action in a unique and meaningful way, then Hollywood may have a hit on their hands.
Expertly written, with lines of dialogue that keep audiences entranced and sparse yet impactful action, Better Call Saul is one of the best-written shows out there.
There comes an episode in any show that truly demonstrates it’s capabilities and skill, showing why it’s considered to be critically acclaimed or underrated. Better Call Saul episode in question is “Bagman.”
The season five episode follows Saul in the aftermath of a deal gone wrong is a powerful showcase of everything that makes Better Call Saul underrated. From it’s acting to writing to the decline of Saul reaching its peak, “Bagman” stands out as a phenomenal episode and a true show of why the series is underrated.