Breaking Bad: How Overrated?

Here’s how overrated Breaking Bad is:

The answer to this question will depend on who you ask.

Breaking Bad is one of the most beloved dramas of all time, so unless you feel that strongly about it, you probably think it’s overrated.

If you do love the show, then you probably don’t think that it is overrated at all.

So if you want to learn all about how Breaking Bad is overly hyped-up, then this article is for you.

Let’s get right into it!

Breaking Bad: How Overrated? (Everything to Know)

Can Anyone Really Tell You if a Show Is Overrated?

Serious adult males friends talking together in cafe

You already know how this conversation is going to end.

You have to decide these things for yourself.

If you talk to people about Breaking Bad, fans of the show will tell you it’s the best thing ever.

People who didn’t like it will tell you how awful it is.

None of that will ever truly answer your question.

Whether or not it’s overrated is up to you.

Now, I’m going to give you as much information as I can to help you gauge the show without having to watch five long seasons, but before all of that, I have to come clean.

I’m biased.

I watched a lot of Breaking Bad, but I was never able to finish it.

I absolutely loathed the show and the characters in it.

Watching it was worse than watching paint dry, and after several seasons of self-inflicted torture, I gave up.

There are two things you need to know as you read my breakdown of the show.

First, I didn’t finish it.

Almost everyone will tell you that the last two seasons are leaps and bounds above the first three seasons.

I have things to say about that, but I’ll save it for a later section.

Second, I will try my best to give the show a fair shake so that you have objective information to work with.

Every once in a while, you’ll see my biases slip in.

I’m putting them upfront so that you can take what I say with a grain of salt.

What Makes a Show Good? (4 Criteria)

Young woman sitting on couch with tv remote

Ok. Disclaimers are done.

Let’s really get into this.

If we want to decide whether or not Breaking Bad is overrated, then we need to think about some criteria.

What actually makes a show good?

Can a good show be overrated?

What can we think about?

I’m not really talking about the technical elements of a show.

Instead, I’m talking about how you, as someone who presumably hasn’t watched Breaking Bad, can determine if the show is good or not.

There are a few things we can look at for that sake.

Once we decide whether or not the show is good, we can talk about whether or not it is overrated.

#1 Reviews

Young man typing on laptop. Businessman at sunny office. Freelan

Critics exist for a reason, right? 

Well, I think we all disagree with critics at least every once in a while, and if you’re like me, then you disagree with critics a lot.

That said, you can still look at reviews to see whether or not professionals in the industry liked the show.

From this point of view, Breaking Bad is a very good show (see, I overcame my biases and wrote that down without choking!).

It’s highly reviewed by critics across many spectra.

In terms of critical acclaim, it’s probably one of the top dramas of the last 30 years, maybe even all time.

#2 Production

Cameraman shooting in studio

Another thing we can look into is production value.

Now, there are shows with huge budgets that don’t do well, and there are budget shows that people end up loving (Dr. Who is a perfect example). 

That said, the production value of a show often does correlate with how well made the show is, and shows that are made well (from a production point of view) tend to be pretty good.

So, how does Breaking Bad stack up?

Breaking Bad averaged a production cost of $3 million per episode.

Now, this isn’t near an all-time record, but Breaking Bad also wasn’t a special effects-laden sci-fi masterpiece.

It would make sense for shows like Game of Thrones and The Mandalorian to cost more per episode.

At $3 million per episode (especially considering that this was a lot of money for the time that the show was made), it’s very much in the mainstream level of production.

Breaking Bad clearly had high production value, so in this sense, it’s once again a good show.

#3 Audience Appeal

Two happy excited bearded friends watching TV or some sport matc

Another thing we can consider is how audiences felt about Breaking Bad.

The show has been finished for a while now, so we can look at audience scores to get a good idea.

I’ll reference Rotten Tomatoes, but you can use IMDB or any other resource that you like.

According to Rotten Tomatoes, Breaking Bad has an audience score of 97%.

That’s very high.

It means that the vast majority of people who watched the show and then rated it liked it a lot.

If you talk to people about Breaking Bad, you’ll usually get three responses.

First is that they love it and you need to watch it and it’s the greatest thing ever.

You get the idea.

The second is that they didn’t finish it.

The third is that they truly despised it.

You’ll find that a lot more people fall in the first camp than either of the others, and that’s reflected in the very high audience score.

So, in terms of audience appeal, Breaking Bad is once again a very good show.

#4 Your Own Preferences

Portrait of an attractive young bearded man

The last thing that determines if a show is good or bad is actually the only one that matters.

I’ve already touched on this, so I won’t beat you over the head with it.

I can’t predict whether or not you will like Breaking Bad.

No one can.

If you really want to know, try watching the show and make up your own mind.

What Makes a Show Bad? (3 Things)

Frustrated friends watching tv in the night sitting on a couch in the living room at home

Still, we’re trying to find some external, maybe even objective metrics to help you make up your mind.

We’ve covered what makes a show good.

Now, let’s get into what makes a show bad.

Now, we could just look at the reverse of the criteria above, but is that really useful?

Instead, I want to spend the next few sections talking about some of the more technical aspects of making a show.

What are things that critics might pick on when they say a show is bad?

If you don’t like a show, why?

Sure, it’s sometimes a matter of content.

If you’re not into dramas that focus on realism with stints down very dark concepts, you probably won’t like Breaking Bad (my own gripes are quite different from that).

Those are content issues.

People who hate sci-fi probably don’t enjoy Stranger Things.

It’s a matter of content.

But to say that a show is objectively bad, we need to look at things that have nothing to do with the concept, and I’m going to lay out some of those ideas below.

#1 Pacing

Beautiful young woman relaxing at home watching tv

Finally, I get to pick on this show, and even the most adoring fans of Breaking Bad won’t be able to argue.

Pacing is a reference to how a show (or a book or a movie) moves the plot.

In a traditionally well-paced story, each scene will advance the plot meaningfully, even while accomplishing other tasks like fleshing out characters, delivering dialogue, and providing raw entertainment.

As an idea, a scene can be funny and still involve actions or decisions that will matter later.

That would make it a well-paced scene.

Breaking Bad has notorious problems with pacing.

In the later seasons (especially 4 and 5), those problems are largely solved, but the first three seasons are very slow.

The first season, in particular, is painfully slow.

Most people who hate Breaking Bad never get through the first season.

That’s because very few moments of consequence actually take place in the first season.

Lovers of the show focus on the later seasons because that’s when everything that matters takes place.

Many fans would agree that the majority of screen time in the first eight episodes has absolutely no impact on the greater story.

It’s just establishing characters, the setting, and the premise. (note: a few scenes in the first eight episodes matter, just not the majority of scenes.)

That’s extremely slow, it’s one of the things I hate most about this show, and it’s an objective problem with pacing.

In this regard, Breaking Bad is a terrible show, especially in the first few seasons.

#2 Dialogue

Beautiful young bored couple watching TV in the sofa at home.

Ok. I’m done.

Let’s talk about dialogue.

This is where characters talk to each other, and good dialogue feels natural.

It provides information that matters to the story and that you care about as a member of the audience.

At the same time, good dialogue comes across as how people might actually talk.

Bad dialogue phrases things weirdly.

It will have awkward pauses that don’t make sense.

In general, it will feel clunky and unnatural.

It’s hard to give an objective opinion on dialogue, so I’ll put it this way.

Breaking Bad is all over the place here.

When the story is centered on Walter White (played by Bryan Cranston), the dialogue tends to go well.

It flows, it’s engaging, and it’s good in general.

As soon as he’s off the screen, the dialogue drops a notch.

In some cases, the dialogue is outright clunky and painful.

It really varies from scene to scene, and it’s another place where I pick on the show a lot.

The big issue is consistency.

Plenty of actors in Breaking Bad have established themselves as good at what they do in the industry.

But, there are a lot of scenes, especially in the first two seasons, where the dialogue isn’t great.

At the same time, you can find some truly spectacular dialogue in the show.

Take that as you will.

#3 Characters

bored man watching tv while lying on a couch and eating pizza

In a lot of cases, characters and their development are what grip us the most and really sell a story.

Fans of Breaking Bad will tell you that the characters drive the show, and the show has some of the best characters of all time.

I will freely admit that Walter White is a compelling character and sees excellent development throughout the show.

He starts as a meek chemistry teacher and ends as a criminal kingpin, and the transition is seamless.

It’s one of the most intense, expansive, and believable character arcs in TV history.

Unfortunately, Breaking Bad is not the story of Walter White.

Instead, it’s an ensemble story about a lot of characters, and none see character development like White does.

Many of the leading characters see practically no development at all.

On top of that, most of the characters are not particularly compelling.

This is where you are likely to see the most disagreement.

Superfans of the show love all of the characters.

People who dislike the show dislike most of the characters.

One of the best lines of division can be seen around Jesse.

Fans are fairly split on whether they love or hate this character, and that’s a problem for the show.

Jessie’s one of the main characters throughout the series, and he’s not compelling.

Mostly, he’s a deliberately stupid character that just serves as a plot device that creates obstacles for White to overcome.

Eventually, he finds that he’s out of his depth, and some people relate to that.

But, this development comes so late and after such a repetitive, reductive character arc that many (like me) don’t find it remotely redeeming.

He’s annoying and never anything more (that’s definitely my bias peeking out).

Is Breaking Bad Overrated? (4 Perspectives)

woman thinking in front of a laptop on a couch

Ok. That’s enough background.

Let’s really get into this.

Is Breaking Bad overrated?

That depends on who you ask.

I’ll break this along a few lines to be as thorough as possible.

Before that, let’s establish a few things.

By most objective metrics, Breaking Bad is a good show.

It has high production value, tons of fans who love it, and great critical reviews.

There are some clear problems with pacing, dialogue, and characters, but even in those categories, the show hits some home runs.

Overall, even though I personally despise the show, I think it’s fair to call it a well-made show that checks most of the boxes.

So, let’s say it’s a good show.

Is it possible for a good show to be overrated? Yes.

Here’s the simple formula.

If you go into watching a show with certain expectations, and those expectations are not met, then the show was overrated.

With that in mind, let’s see if Breaking Bad is overrated for you.

#1 According to Fans

man enjoying a good tv show

I already gave you some raw numbers.

Breaking Bad is extremely popular with its fanbase.

It’s super beloved, even years after its finale.

Of the people who don’t love the show, they seem to be unmotivated when it comes to writing reviews.

You’ll find a lot more positive reviews than negative ones.

So, according to popular opinion, the show is good.

In fact, it’s one of the best of all time, and in this regard, it’s not remotely overrated.

#2 According to Critics

African American woman wearing headphones calling on laptop, tal

The critical review looks a lot like the fan review.

Critics had tons of good things to say about the show.

There are countless glowing reviews, and those opinions have largely held up over time.

So, this is another area where we can say the show is very good and not at all overrated.

#3 According to Me

Portrait of happy smiling man

I’m the one writing this article, so I get to provide my own input.

You already know what I’m going to say.

Yes. It’s overrated.

Not only is it overrated, but it’s also not even worth watching.

But, that’s just the opinion of one person, and it’s hardly enough to outweigh everything else you have read.

#4 According to You

Playful young woman playing I Spy

This still circles back to the ultimate truth.

Only you can decide if it’s overrated.

If any of the information in this article compels you to give the show a chance, then I encourage you to go for it.

Try it out.

If you don’t find the first season painfully slow to watch, then you’ll probably love it by the end, and you won’t think it’s overrated.

If you don’t like the content, walk away and never look back.

The show isn’t for you.

If you’re on the fence, then the only way to know is to get to the “good seasons” and see if they redeem the early failures in your eyes.