Whereas ‘Breaking Bad’ is a show full of anti-heroes, ‘Better Call Saul’ is nothing without the illicit Kim Wexler, a character that was always viewed as an “impending tragedy”.
‘Breaking Bad’ is considered to be one of the best television shows of all time. This western, spaghetti crime thriller/ dark comedy had viewers at the edge of their seats for 5 seasons, between 2008 and 2013.
- ‘Breaking Bad’: The iconic show about bad boys
- The bad guys of ‘Breaking Bad’
- ‘Better Call Saul’: A spinoff that changed our lives for the better
- Kim Wexler: The charismatic character, carrying ‘Better Call Saul’ on her shoulders
The cherry on the cake is the fact that it gave birth to an equally successful spinoff–‘Better Call Saul’, a legal drama/crime thriller showing the journey of a small-time lawyer becoming a formidable drug trafficker. If the first show was about remorseless anti-heroes, the latter was about a pair of sharp-witted lawyers swindling their way towards success.
‘Breaking Bad’: The iconic show about bad boys
Arguably one of the greatest shows of all time, the neo-western crime thriller, ‘Breaking Bad’, redefined the post-millennial age of television and gave us an unforgettable story. The Golden Globe and Emmy award-winning series had a premise involving 50-year-old Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher with stage 3 cancer, who decides to embark on a journey of making and selling crystal meth to secure his family financially before dying, with the help of former student Jesse Pinkman.
The success of this revolutionary brainchild of Vince Gilligan’s gave way to its spinoff and prequel, ‘Better Call Saul’, an equally brilliant work of fiction. ‘Better Call Saul’ focuses on scam artist turned lawyer, Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman as he enters the world of drug trafficking, and his incredible partner Kim Wexler.
The Bad Guys of ‘Breaking Bad’
The phrase “breaking bad” literally means ‘turning to a life of crime’, and the show gave life to too many such bad guys to keep count of. Walter White was an anti-hero who had the viewers intrigued and asking for more. White’s character became more and more unsympathetic and irredeemable over the span of 5 seasons.
He not only illegally traded drugs, but also betrayed his partners, made tons of black money, and even became a murderer. The complex character started as the protagonist and ended up as a beleaguered antagonist. His ruthless nemesis, Gus “The Chicken Man” Fring, was equally remorseless.
Whether its Walters’ lost cause of a student, Jesse Pinkman, or the crooked lawyer, Saul Goodman, who named himself after the phrase “It’s all good, man”, the series never fell short of such cruel and heartless characters.
Bryan Cranston, who played the legendary role of Walter himself, called the character “ugly [with no] redemption”. Gus Fring’s character too has been named as one of the 40 greatest television villains of all time in 2016.
‘Better Call Saul’: A spinoff that changed our lives for the better
The female characters, although relevant, were all a part of the supporting cast and were not written to create as much impact as these bad guys. However, this changed with the arrival of ‘Better Call Saul’.
The badass and illicit, Kim Wexler
There is no doubt that ‘Better Call Saul’ revolves around its titular character, Saul Goodman, and his journey to becoming a powerful drug trafficker. But the show is absolutely nothing without its leading lady, Kim Wexler. The smart, driven, self-reliant, yet troubled Wexler is a skilled lawyer who inspired Goodman to pursue law as well. She eventually marries him and is shown to always have his back throughout the series.
The character of Kim Wexler was never meant to last this long, according to the showrunners, Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould. They had not established how her role would progress at the beginning of the show. Gilligan said, “We had a vague inkling that we wanted a female character who was perhaps a love interest past tense, or potential love interest future tense”, and that he thought that there was a “distinct possibility” that the character would “fall out of importance” eventually.
Admitting to having underestimated the character, he further said, “It’s embarrassing to say how little we understood about the character of Kim Wexler or how important she would become”. However, it is actually Rhea Seehorn, the actress who plays Wexler’s role, who is mainly responsible for how the character has transcended. A scene from season 1, episode 4, where Kim smiles after Saul defends himself, had such a major impact on the makers of the show that they realised how imperative it was to give her character the screen-time it deserved.
Commending Seehorn’s screen presence, Gilligan said, “It was very much going to be the Saul Goodman show, the Jimmy McGill show, and then we hired Rhea Seehorn, who allow[ed] us to do things we never saw coming. She continued to wow us, week in and week out, until suddenly you say, God, what would this show be without her character?”
While talking about a scene in season 1, where Saul persuades her to con a stockbroker, the 47-year-old actress said, “I thought, she’s clearly reluctant. She keeps trying to get out of it. And then, once she participates, she doesn’t just participate — she excels at it”. The focus of the two shows was very different. One showed “a man’s world” where a bunch of anti-heroes did the most despicable acts and the viewers found themselves engaged in their complexities, whereas, the other showed a couple involved in conning people and emphasised on the intricacies of their troubled characters.
There are no two ways about the fact that ‘Breaking Bad’ was about its bad guys, while ‘Better Call Saul’ shows that its titular character is nothing without the illicit Kim Wexler.
What do you think about this debate of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul? Are you looking forward to watching the final season of ‘Better Call Saul’? Write to us in the comments section below.