Breaking Bad just might be the best show on TV. Boardwalk Empire just might be the best looking. I like Boardwalk Empire. I obsess over Breaking Bad. It’s not that Boardwalk Empire is a bad show. It is an excellent one, and in a pre-Sopranos era, it might have been the best show on television. But the standards are much higher now and, as we slip further and further into a disappointing third season, I continually find myself wondering how a show made by so many talented people has managed to squander so much of its incredible potential. Meanwhile, Breaking Bad, a much lower profile crime drama made on a much smaller budget, manages to run away with a great deal more awards and acclaim. Boardwalk Empire could skate by through its run as being somehow less than the sum of its parts, and I would still watch it, but Breaking Bad understands how to create great drama in a way that Boardwalk Empire doesn’t, and the comparison between the two illuminates the reasons why true greatness eludes Boardwalk Empire’s grasp.
SPOILERS FOR BREAKING BAD THROUGH EPISODE 5.8 AND SPOILERS FOR BOARDWALK EMPIRE THROUGH EPISODE 3.4 BELOW THE CUT