Breaking Bad and Ozark are both considered extremely good shows; both have won numerous awards and are extremely bingeable or ‘addictive’ – once you start, you can’t stop until you finish the whole series. But what sets these two shows apart? In my opinion, it all comes down to the writers…
Spoiler alert: the following article contains major spoilers for Breaking Bad and Ozark.
Both Breaking Bad and Ozark are extremely popular and critically acclaimed crime-drama series. But what makes them so well-liked? In my humble opinion, it comes down to two main things.
The first thing is the characters. In both Breaking Bad and Ozark, the main characters have rich, complex backstories that make them seem almost like real people. Plus, they are extremely relatable – albeit on a slightly exaggerated scale; for example, the characters have moments that viewers would have experienced in real life but also – because they’re fictional – can indulge in things viewers would love to do, but never would out of fear.
Take Breaking Bad’s leading man, Walter White. He starts off as a high school chemistry teacher – an extremely common profession – who is meek and has spent his whole life doing what’s right and putting others first, but despite that, is struggling to make ends meet – a feeling pretty much everyone has experienced at least once in their life.
But then after learning he’s terminally ill, Walt slowly breaks free of society’s shackles and starts prioritising what’s important to him, and him alone. He is no longer afraid of consequences and begins to manufacture meth to financially support his family – a rather noble justification for his illegal activity. This again, makes viewers sympathetic to Walt but also forces viewers to feel slightly in awe of Walt for actually engaging in such reckless behaviour.
Then over the course of the series, Walt slowly becomes darker and clearly his motivations for manufacturing meth change. But this character development keeps the show somewhat realistic and makes Walt seem like a real person.
Similarly, when we first meet Marty Byrde from Ozark, he’s disillusioned with his life; which is rather dull and… relatable. Everyone can relate to feeling distracted at work because it’s not particularly stimulating and feeling out of touch with your family.
But then, even as the first episode of the series wraps up we learn that Marty has a dangerous streak and has been laundering money – something risky that viewers would never do but something that viewers would also slightly envy; who wouldn’t want millions of dollars?
And it’s not just Walt and Marty. The characters Jesse, Hank, Walt Jr., Saul, Mike and, hell, even Skylar have both relatable and realistic moments over the course of Breaking Bad, just like Ozark’s Wendy, Ruth, Ben, etc. do too. Essentially, Breaking Bad and Ozark have an abundance of characters who are extremely well-written – and played to perfection by the actors – that fascinate viewers and draw them in.
The second reason Breaking Bad and Ozark are so damn good is because the plotlines are intriguing but never convoluted. The respective writers of each show clearly had a vision from the beginning that never wavered; Walt was always going to die and Marty was always going to get away with his various misdeeds.
Sure, both series threw some plot twists and shocking revelations at us – which kept things interesting – but the writers never backed themselves into a corner by introducing too many storylines or characters.
Think of Lost and Game of Thrones – both shows were considered the absolute peak of television when they were first released but by the last seasons, too many loose ends were left untied and too many gaping plot holes were present because both narratives got way too complex; the writers added too many ‘twists’ in an attempt to surprise and excite viewers but because these later twists were thrown in last-minute and never explained or explored properly, they were just disappointing.
Whereas, the twists in Breaking Bad and Ozark always made sense and there were even red herrings leading up to each twist that viewers would notice on a second viewing.
Ultimately, what makes Breaking Bad and Ozark so outstanding, and almost addictive, is exceptional writing – both the writing of the characters and the plotlines – and excellent performances from the cast, as they bring the realistic and relatable characters to life.
But don’t just take my word for it. If you haven’t seen either Breaking Bad or Ozark, get watching! And yes, while this article contained a few spoilers for both shows, (why did you keep reading after the spoiler warning at the top?!) I promise, you’ll still highly enjoy both series and be genuinely surprised by the many awesome plotlines not discussed here.