15 TV shows to replace Breaking Bad
Ivan Radford | On 07, Oct 2013Reading time: 6 mins
Twitching uncontrollably? Missing not being able to breathe for 60 minutes? Wishing you could be constantly surprised by everything that happens? Tempted to shave your hair and grow a goatee?
Then you’ve got Breaking Bad withdrawal. It’s a serious condition – and one week one from the final ever episode, it’s sweeping the population as people struggle to cope with life now that that Vince Gilligan and co. have gone off to the big meth lab in the sky.
But don’t be Breaking Sad. We’ve rummaged through the UK’s VOD vault to find programmes that can fill the void left by Walt and Jesse.
Here are 15 TV shows to replace Breaking Bad:
Game of Thrones
Winter is coming. Look busy. And there’s no better way to stay busy than by watching Game of Thrones. From the carefully adapted script, based on George R.R. Martin’s novels, to the follicly well-endowed chins of the grizzled cast, HBO’s show is as addictive as Breaking Bad – and equally surprising. Just like the world under Heisenberg’s reign, you never know who’s about to be bumped off. Even better, there’s a chance they might be bumped off by dragons. Watch it for the psychotic young king Joffrey Baratheon – “Everyone is mine to torment!” – and the amazing theme tune.
Don Draper’s been selling cigarettes and flogging the American Dream for yonks – and he only seems to be getting more miserable. More about the atmosphere than the plot itself, Mad Men’s trademark is its flawless production design and its knack for picking the right period song to go over the end credits. Jon Hamm’s perfectly parted hair and Elizabeth Moss’ independent copywriter are a bonus.
Go back 10 years and this was arguably the greatest TV show ever made. James Gandolfini starred as Tony Soprano, turning a Mafia mobster into a likeable guy – and, in the process, allowing the show to tackle everything from family to gender and violence.
House of Cards
“I love that woman. I love her more than sharks love blood.” Kevin Spacey is magnetic as bitter congressman Frank Underwood, a man determined to get to the top – and take down everyone against him along the way. Political machinations, tense confrontations and effortlessly quotable dialogue, House of Cards makes evil a joy to watch. Between the stunning cinematography and night-time shots of the Capitol, you can practically see the moral black holes creasing across Kevin’s lined face. The fact that this is Netflix’s first major original series – and received the first ever Best Drama Emmy nomination for an online TV show – is testament to how good it is.
The West Wing
Hate the world we live in today? Worried that House of Cards is a little too close to the truth? Travel back to a happier time. A time when Aaron Sorkin was at the top of his game. When Martin Sheen was President. When politicians were could be trusted and fought for the greater good. Ok, we’ll admit that time never existed. Fortunately, The West Wing did. And it went on for seven seasons – more than enough to fill the Breaking Bad void.
“Take my love, take my land…” Battlestar Galactica is the sci-fi people love to praise, but Firefly is the one you should be watching. Joss Whedon’s series treats the final frontier as the Wild West, setting up Captain Mal Reynolds (Nathan Fillion channelling Han Solo) as the outlaw with a beautiful ship, dangerous cargo and a band of lowlives to look after it. Some of them play with plastic toy dinosaurs. Cancelled after only 11 episodes, it’s a perfectly formed show that never had the chance to outgrow its tiny charm. Horses. Spaceships. Plastic toy dinosaurs. What’s not to love?
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
There are loads of shows out there that can rival Breaking Bad in the drama stakes, but part of what made AMC’s show so good was its dark sense of humour. Enter It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, a show that isn’t so much dark as utterly depraved. Charting the misadventures of a bunch of mispeople, we see Charlie and friends trying to run a bar – while screwing each other over in every possible way. Happy to turn them into meth addicts one week and baby kidnappers the next, none of these shallow idiots are likeable, but they are cruel, hyperactive and hilarious. The introduction of Danny DeVito in the second season only makes things even sillier.
Speaking of depraved, have you ever seen Archer? An animated show about an incompetent secret agent with mother issues, it’s warped, fast and features several cast members from Arrested Development. Just the thing for 20-minute bursts of surreal entertainment. With guns.
If you thought Breaking Bad was good at making you hold your breath, try Homeland. Showtime’s CIA thriller follows Claire Danes’ unbalanced Carrie, a woman obsessed with newly-returned-from-Baghdad soldier Brody, who she suspects is a terrorist. Is he? Isn’t he? The series strings along the same question for two seasons – and only loses the plot halfway through the second. Stop before then and this is thrilling, edge-of-your-seat stuff. And that’s just the parts involving Claire Danes’ facial expressions.
Everyone talked about this Danish crime series – but did you ever actually watch it? Sarah Lund’s slow-paced investigations into murders never shy away from the personal impact of the crimes, showcasing a smart eye for emotion as well as logic, not to mention beautiful cinematography – and, of course, well-knitted jumpers.
The Walking Dead
The one thing Breaking Bad was missing? Zombies. AMC’s show ran alongside Vince Gilligan’s and boasted an equally impressive man at the helm: Frank Darabont. Adapted from Robert Kirkman’s graphic novels, the show’s strength lies in its focus on humans rather than zombies; it’s a gruelling, moving tale of survival that sees Andrew Lincoln’s good cop, Rick, slowly turn into a monster himself. But don’t worry: it’s doesn’t skimp on the action either. There’s more fake blood here than on Fake Blood Day in a Fake Blood Workship in Fake Bloodsville.
Years before Breaking Bad came another tale of a bald man: strike team leader Vic Mackey. Shiny bonce? Moral dilemmas? A good man corrupted by his own ego? There are more than a few similarities between the series. Top of the list: they’re both very, very good.
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Tired of dramas set in the gritty, grimy real world? Beam up Star Trek: The Next Generation and revel in the sci-fi escapades of Captain Jean-Luc Picard. With 100 episodes now available on Netflix UK, you’re all set for quantity. Luckily, the quality is there too. Make it so.
If morally complex lead characters are your bag, they don’t get more morally complex than Luther. Dedicated to the point of obsession, officially-the-next-big-thing Idris Elba plays a cop who deals in the darkness of human existence – with psychologically scarring results.
Looking for unpredictable drama? Colourful characters? Pitch-black comedy? Then the best show to replace Breaking Bad for you is probably Breaking Bad. That tragic arc of Walter White to Heisenberg is so well done – and so intricately written – that it can easily be enjoyed multiple times. Alternatively, watch it backwards for the heartwarming take of a drug kingpin who gives up his empire to pursue his dream of teaching high-school chemistry. Awww.
What TV show would you recommend to recovering Breaking Bad addicts?