The Sopranos vs The Wire vs Mad Men vs Breaking Bad

Which show is the best?


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The Monkey

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There seem to be a consensus (at least according to these guys: link 1, link 2) that these four TV shows have been the very best of the past 10 years. So I thought I'd make it like a good chap and throw together a poll on this forum's opinions.
 

Vegeta897

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Tough choice between The Wire and Breaking Bad, but I have to pick BB, probably because it's still going and I've been rewatching a lot recently.
 

The Monkey

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For me it's the the Wire at first place, with Breaking Bad trailing very close behind. Mad Men had be gripped at the end of season 3, and the acting is probably the best of the four (and that says one hell of a lot), but it's not a good sign that it took me nearly three seasons to get completely hooked. Thus it's placed at number three. If the Sopranos had stopped two seasons earlier it might've been higher up, but now it's at number four.

The way I see it, it's
Best writing - The Wire
Best cinematography - Breaking Bad
Best acting - Mad Men (although it's a very close call)

It might be interesting to list the IMDb scores:
The Wire - 9.6
The Sopranos - 9.4
Breaking Bad - 9.4
Mad Men - 8.9
 

knut

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outside of the fact that are share fantastic writing, acting and some truely amazing and compelling narratives, i find it very difficult to compare the four against each other.

all that said, the wire is one of my favourite pieces of television with the sopranos close behind. outside of the poll, i would throw in rome as my third, and then from there it's probably breaking bad and mad men.
 

Barnz

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Sopranos all the way.
 

Lucid

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I really couldn't choose.

They're all absolutely amazing pieces of television and I refuse to participate in this poll. :arms:
 

sixteenth

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It's hard, but Breaking Bad places before the Wire. Almost a tie, though.
 

Ennui

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I love Breaking Bad, but The Wire is quite frankly utterly and totally incomparable to ANYTHING else I've seen on television. Breaking Bad is intelligent, entertaining, masterfully suspenseful and a pleasure to watch, but The Wire is just so much more important in the grand scheme of things. From an artistic standpoint Breaking Bad is probably the best (such great use of color, cinematography, visual thematics, etc) but from a thematic/life-relevance standpoint The Wire is an unparalleled achievement.

Mad Men isn't even close to either of them, and I haven't seen The Sopranos so I can't say anything about that.
 

knut

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the problem with mad men is that it's one half utterly amazing and the other bullshit boring romantic soap. season four is where the show really starts to shine because...

... betty is more or less out of the equation and it's just mostly pure filtered don and co-workers, give or take
 

Eejit

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There seem to be a consensus that these four TV shows have been the very best of the past 10 years.
The West Wing.

[finished 1 year before the Sopranos, '06, both began in '99]
 
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Yorick

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The West Wing.

[finished 1 year before the Sopranos, '06, both began in '99]
I really enjoyed The West Wing but I hardly think it compares. I haven't seen Mad Men or The Wire, but at least speaking of Breaking Bad, it is perfectly crafted in such a way that it transcends enjoyable television and becomes an actual art form. I imagine the other two are similar.
 

Eejit

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The West Wing easily compares with Mad Men and The Sopranos. I've seen much less of the other two.
 

The Monkey

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The West Wing easily compares with Mad Men and The Sopranos. I've seen much less of the other two.
Yeah, I know other shows are contenders as well (Rome also comes to mind), but those articles narrowed it down in what me seemed to be a good way.
 

Bad^Hat

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Please tell me I'm not the only one who has seen none of these shows?

I'm just starting to work my through Breaking Bad on a friend's insistence, but we don't get shit on telly here. :(
 

MuToiD_MaN

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I also have never seen any of these shows. Get married and get a job, you couch potatoes.
 

Raziaar

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Out of the four, I split my vote between The Wire and Breaking Bad. I can't vote as a result. The Wire is far more deep and intricate than Breaking Bad, but there's just something so wonderful about Breaking Bad.

I have never seen Mad Men, and The Sopranos was not really all that deep though it was great.
 

Krynn72

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I havent seen all of Mad Men yet (near the end of Season 2), and never seen any of the Sopranos. That said, Breaking Bad is number one for me by a mile. The Wire was good but was a genre I dont generally get into. Same with Mad Men.

But Rome beats everything hands down.
 

Ennui

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Out of the four, I split my vote between The Wire and Breaking Bad. I can't vote as a result. The Wire is far more deep and intricate than Breaking Bad, but there's just something so wonderful about Breaking Bad.
The Wire is hardcore realist fiction with relentless dedication to authenticity and very overt themes etc. Breaking Bad is a bit more fantastic (although still realistic to some degree, but it's more Dexter than The Wire in terms of deus ex machina, etc) and its themes and intentions are a lot more difficult to pin down. I think Breaking Bad is a work of art, I love all of the subtle symbolism and use of visual themes and wonderful cinematography, but The Wire is art too, and in a totally different way.

Basically, from an artistic standpoint, I think they are both masterful achievements and are pretty much tied as the best television out there (unless you include miniseries in which case Band of Brothers is right there with them). However for me personally, The Wire wins out in the end because I think its message is far more pressing, urgent and relevant than Breaking Bad (although the latter of course has plenty of meaningful things to say about life / people as well).

If I could, I would sit down every person in the country and force them to watch every single episode of The Wire because I think doing so would promote social understanding and hopefully give people some perspective on different classes and walks of life as well as some well needed insight into the workings of our political and social landscape. Breaking Bad I would sit everyone down to watch too, but primarily for pleasure rather than for its meaning or relevance.

Haven't seen much of The West Wing but I love the guy who wrote it (whose name escapes me at the moment). He also wrote Sports Night, Charlie Wilson's War and The Social Network.
 
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Okay, Ennui, you've sold me. I'm going to start watching The Wire.
 

knut

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Okay, Ennui, you've sold me. I'm going to start watching The Wire.
finally, i'll be able to start taking you seriously!

until people have finished the wire, they have nothing of interest to say to me when it comes to their thoughts on quality. i'm only half joking here, too.
 

Lucid

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Out of the four, I split my vote between The Wire and Breaking Bad. I can't vote as a result. The Wire is far more deep and intricate than Breaking Bad, but there's just something so wonderful about Breaking Bad.

I have never seen Mad Men, and The Sopranos was not really all that deep though it was great.
The Sopranos wasn't deep?
Are you sure we watched the same show?

They practically forced art and philosophy and all that crap down your throat.
 

Dinnesch

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Only watched a few episodes from the Wire, will probably catch up with 'TV series classics' some at some point.

Anyway..
 

Yuri

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There isn't a single weak episode or character of The Wire, which can't be said of any other show I can think of. I'm not surprised that Breaking Bad is winning, although I am somewhat disappointed, because it has some of the longest stretches of drawn-out episodes and a plethora of rather weak characters. Even though it's one of my favorite shows, I couldn't put it anywhere near The Wire.

Meanwhile, Mad Men is so drastically different from either show that it is difficult to draw direct comparisons, although I would personally rank it second of the three.

And I've never seen the Sopranos, but all this hype does intrigue me.




...lastly, get that ****ing Dexter shit out of here are you goddamn serious
 

Acepilotf14

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Almost picked Sopranos.. but it's probably because I only just watched BB and it's fresh in my head.
 

knut

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, and The Sopranos was not really all that deep though it was great.
almost missed out on this one. i don't understand this at all - did you miss out on any episodes involving tony's dreams? how about when

he was in a coma? or the ending? even the ducks, right from the very beginning, have a huge influence over tony's character. the show is as deep as they get!

if it wasn't for the fact that the sopranos does an amazing job at making you despise every character in the show, it would likely be my favourite. it's because of that that i find it difficult to watch as much as the wire because there is always someone to get behind which every season and every re-watch. sopranos is just solid hate from start to finish with the only redeeming character probably being one of the fbi agents, and even he is a malicious asshole when you get down to it.
 

morgs

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I also haven't seen any of those shows, only bits and pieces of Sopranos.
 

knut

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the wire goes for like 30/40 quid now and i think all of the sopranos boxset is usually about 50 quid, which is dirt cheap these days. highly recommended viewing, and thats before you should even start getting into something like the previous david simon work like homicide and the corner (really recommended to already-wire fans) and terence winter's boardwalk empire.

so much good television these last ten years it's unreal.
 

The Monkey

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if it wasn't for the fact that the sopranos does an amazing job at making you despise every character in the show, it would likely be my favourite. it's because of that that i find it difficult to watch as much as the wire because there is always someone to get behind which every season and every re-watch. sopranos is just solid hate from start to finish with the only redeeming character probably being one of the fbi agents, and even he is a malicious asshole when you get down to it.
What about the therapist, Melfi? She's rather sympathetic. As is Carmela, especially in season 4-5. But I agree with you on most male characters. I wanted Tony to die a painful death all the way through. What bothered me somewhat about the Sopranos is that you rarely see the effects that their crimes have on ordinary people. It's almost as if the writers wanted you to side with the mobsters, which is a highly disturbing thought.
 

Ennui

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...lastly, get that ****ing Dexter shit out of here are you goddamn serious
Yeah really. Dexter is great and super entertaining and I've watched every new episode of it the night it aired since the start of Season 3... but it's not even close to the same level as the other stuff discussed in this thread from a thematic, artistic, aesthetic or just plain writing standpoint.

Yorick: GOOD. The Wire is a remarkable show.
 

knut

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What about the therapist, Melfi? She's rather sympathetic. As is Carmela, especially in season 4-5. But I agree with you on most male characters. I wanted Tony to die a painful death all the way through. What bothered me somewhat about the Sopranos is that you rarely see the effects that their crimes have on ordinary people. It's almost as if the writers wanted you to side with the mobsters, which is a highly disturbing thought.
i would count melfi and carmela as some of the worst culprits, personally, and esp. when you start to consider them as a sort of one and the same. they both put up with an obvious life of crime for their own self-indulgent benefits, which is disgusting. i'll admit that when carmela gets some balls to walk out on tony it's a bit of a win, but not much.

as for the ordinary people, i'd have to disagree with you there too. for the life of me i can't think up a coherent list of people affected by the various families, but there is a lot of collateral that takes hits. i'm talking boyfriends and girlfriends, family members, business, shop keepers... actually i just thought of some immediate examples though i can't be as specific as i'd like for memory reasons: the landscape surveyor who gets beat up alot, that family gardening company who get forced into doing a different neighbourhood and some families yards for free, a construction worker who says he's going to call the cops when a fight breaks out only to get severely beaten up in the process, that stripper at the 'bing who was with ralphie, who he then killed outside! there's a shit ton of flak for the everyman, it's horrible.
 

The Monkey

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i would count melfi and carmela as some of the worst culprits, personally, and esp. when you start to consider them as a sort of one and the same. they both put up with an obvious life of crime for their own self-indulgent benefits, which is disgusting. i'll admit that when carmela gets some balls to walk out on tony it's a bit of a win, but not much.

as for the ordinary people, i'd have to disagree with you there too. for the life of me i can't think up a coherent list of people affected by the various families, but there is a lot of collateral that takes hits. i'm talking boyfriends and girlfriends, family members, business, shop keepers... actually i just thought of some immediate examples though i can't be as specific as i'd like for memory reasons: the landscape surveyor who gets beat up alot, that family gardening company who get forced into doing a different neighbourhood and some families yards for free, a construction worker who says he's going to call the cops when a fight breaks out only to get severely beaten up in the process, that stripper at the 'bing who was with ralphie, who he then killed outside! there's a shit ton of flak for the everyman, it's horrible.
It's true, but I don't see it having the appropriate effect. I know it's hardly a scientific survey, but when you watch YouTube videos from the Sopranos, the comments are highly favourable to the crime family. The video of the particular incident you were walking about, Patsi hitting the black construction worker, had the highest rated comment saying "that ****ing n*gger had it coming". I know I must sound like an idiot, but it strengthens the impression I have that the Sopranos never made the audience feel for the victims of organized crime. The Wire never had that problem, and Breaking Bad also highlights the horrors of drug abuse in later seasons (even though that's hardly it's main purpose).
 

knut

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i do get where you're coming from, yeah, though youtube is really bottom of the barrel stuff :p i guess it's ultraviolence at it's finest - which, in some, invokes a positive reaction. i guess people find enjoyment in a character becoming more ''badass'' the more men he caps or women he smacks.

it's the opposite for me.
 

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I've seen all of these over their run (not sitting at home watching all night)
I'd put them in this order:

1.The Wire-Anyone who's seen it knows why,it perfectly depicts our society in all its hideous flaws.Each season introducing a new aspect of life,from the police to the streets to the schools to the paper (amongst others).What really hits me with this is that in 100 years time when most of us will be dead our children or grandchildren will play a tape (or whatever it is in the future) of the wire to understand "Jesus,that's what life was like for them,100% accurate".

2.The Sopranos-How the Hell has no-one defended this show,every single scene has an alternate meaning or can be taken differently or to be remembered in some way more specifically towards season 6.As someone else said the coma episode was mindblowing to me and altogether it had the greatest dream sequences ever in a tv show (even beating Dallas,joke) I remember one where Big Pussy was talking to him through a fish.And the ending which I won't spoil changed our scope on what tv can do to us.Someone else also said that it made you hate the characters start to finish,why?how? Just because they're pshyco mafiosos,that's like hating Godfather or Goodfellas.You know what,you might hate sopranos but no other show has made people evolve from loving a character like Tony to making them despise him and want his death so much,human nature at its very best.

3.Breaking Bad-I know I'll get shit for this but **** it,it's just my opinion.I've seen most of Breaking Bad (halfway through season 4,5 not coming here for a while).It's an amazing show filled with various twists,cliffhangers,suspension and...teddy bears,and don't get me wrong I love the show but two things stopped me from putting it past Sopranos-far fetched realism and shock tactics.C'mon lets face it that's what this is built on,but how hypnotic and addictive it is it still doesn't substitute for the Wire's uniqueness or the Sopranos's deepness.But I will admit it's a damn good show.

4.Mad men-Obviously this would be last,what did you expect the Walking Dead (good show too).Mad Men is good and you try to say its the best show ever until Tony,Walt and McNulty meet your mind.This show,like Breaking Bad,is hypnotic and highly addictive but the problem is it's a soap,you know its a soap but you'll tell your friends it's a "drama" that has racism,mysogny and melodrama as its key tones.Someone mentioned how half of it pure bullshit (Betty Draper,Betty Hofstadt and Betty Francis) the other's award winning work (The skeletons of Don Draper (Season 1),Betty finds out the truth (season 3),"we quit" (Season 3 finale),and the holy grail "The Suitcase" (season 4)).But c'mon what other show makes you wanna smoke a whole pack of cigarretes more than Sterling Cooper (Draper Pryce).

Sorry for a long comment but I love these shows.Band of Brothers and Love/Hate would change alot of peoples opinions if they were there but Band of Brothers is a miniseries and Love/Hate hasn't aired internationally yet,anyone who likes Breaking Bad will be pleased with Love/Hate and it's very similar in terms of colour and suspense.
 

Remus

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Watch out! We've got a necromancer here!
 

ríomhaire

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It doesn't matter. Band of Brothers is the best TV show ever hands down.
 
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