Bob Odenkirk believes that Breaking Bad is better than Better Call Saul, but here’s why he’s wrong about the relative quality of his spinoff show. Odenkirk has recently been touring the UK to promote the paperback edition of his memoir, Comedy Comedy Comedy Drama during which he’s been fielding audience questions about Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad. One of the recurring questions is whether the quality of BCS outshines that of its parent show, and Odenkirk has been vocal about where he stands on the debate.
In a typically modest response from the actor, Bob Odenkirk has repeatedly stated that he believes Breaking Bad’s better than Better Call Saul. While Odenkirk provides a strong argument for why one show is better than the other, a lot of Odenkirk’s praise for the story of Walter White (Bryan Cranston) could just as easily be applied to that of Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk). Here’s why Bob Odenkirk believes that Breaking Bad is the better show, why he’s wrong, and why the argument ultimately doesn’t really matter.
Why Bob Odenkirk Thinks Breaking Bad Is Better Than BCS
Speaking to the New York Times in 2022, Bob Odenkirk said that “Breaking Bad is a more universal kind of story. It’s a midlife crisis and the dangers are more striking.” On the one hand, Odenkirk is absolutely right, because regardless of Breaking Bad‘s crime genre trappings, it’s ultimately a story of a man experiencing an existential crisis brought about by a terminal illness and his wife’s surprise pregnancy. Odenkirk’s analysis of the story of Walter White exposes that it’s about White establishing a legacy after too many years of backing down and remaining in the background. There’s a perverse catharsis in watching the previously unassuming Walter White become a brutal criminal mastermind.
Discussing Better Call Saul in the same interview, Odenkirk observed that “It includes a lot of the ins-and-outs of being a lawyer. It’s just going to be less relatable because of the subject matter.” Taken at face value this is a fair assessment of Better Call Saul, but something similar could be said about Breaking Bad as it includes a lot of the ins and outs of chemistry, which don’t detract from the universal story of ambition, hubris, and legacy. Odenkirk’s assessment of BCS also ignores one key factor – that the story of Jimmy McGill is also hugely relatable.
Bob Odenkirk’s Wrong – Better Call Saul Is Hugely Relatable
Ultimately Better Call Saul is the story of someone who’s seeking love and acceptance, at first from his brother Chuck McGill (Michael McKean) and then from his fellow attorney and wife, Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn). Sadly, Jimmy’s impatience to make something of his life led him to make poor life choices that sabotaged these relationships. The sins of Jimmy’s past always cast a shadow over his present, because his brother Chuck could never fully forgive Jimmy for his past crimes as Saul Goodman. Chuck’s belief that Jimmy’s criminal history would make him unsuitable for the legal profession is a relatable story for anyone who’s ever been refused their dream career due to their background.
The relationship between Kim and Jimmy is also more relatable than that of Walter White and his wife Skyler (Anna Gunn). Walter initially kept his criminal activities secret from Skyler, whereas Jimmy was always upfront with Kim. This relationship of equals was ultimately a toxic partnership because Jimmy and Kim brought out the worst in each other. However, the relatively happy ending of Better Call Saul centers on the beautiful moment where, finally, Jimmy takes responsibility for his actions and proves that Kim’s love for him was never misplaced. The finale proved that Better Call Saul was, at its core, a universal story about both fraternal and romantic love.
Why It Doesn’t Matter Who Wins The Breaking Bad vs. Better Call Saul Debate
Ultimately, Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul are both winners because there would be no argument if Bob Odenkirk’s spinoff had been a disaster. For example, nobody questions the relative merits of the iconic sitcom Friends over its short-lived spinoff series, Joey. The debate over which show is better proves that both Breaking Bad and BCS are broadly viewed as being of comparable quality. As Breaking Bad is often cited as one of the great TV dramas of the 21st century, the comparison only works in Better Call Saul‘s favor.
A Breaking Bad spinoff could have coasted on an enormous amount of goodwill, but Better Call Saul never rested on its laurels. Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould, Bob Odenkirk, and the incredible writer’s room and ensemble cast put so much work into making the prequel a compelling drama for an audience who already knew how the story ended. The resulting debate over which show is better only confirms the level of their success in making BCS a polished drama in its own right. This success now positions Better Call Saul alongside Breaking Bad in the canon of masterpieces from the age of prestige television.