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The two shows are often compared, and it's easy to see why. They have some common themes. They're both about the drug trade. They both deal with failing institutions: law enforcement on one BB side, healthcare on the other. They both end tragically for most or all the characters.

However, they're also very different. Walter is main character and has a massive part. In the other show, McNulty is the only one who comes close to being the main character, and he isn't really. BB is about the hubris of one man, whereas TW's lesson is that organisations always win, whether the individual is good or bad. TW is ultra-naturalistic, whereas BB uses every camera trick in the book.

So, were BB creators inspired by TW, or was it not significant? Or were they even reacting against it? Did TW people (e.g. David Simon) criticise using the drug trade to tell yet another middle-aged white dude story?

I imagine that TW cast & crew might see BB as unwelcome cultural appropriation. Of course TW had a white head writer and lots of white characters, but there were a lot of black contribtors, and the white characters fit organically/believably into a majority-black cast/city. It accurately depicted police brutality and drug abuse as problems which disproportionately afflict black people.

On the other hand, BB's main focus is how clever this individual white man is, and presents it predominantly as a white story. There's some attempt to show the harm caused by drug abuse: there's a series with an extended storyline revolving around a NA circle, which depicts quite a few addicts, white and hispanic. But mostly, meth users in BB are just white, middle class idiots.

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    The final sentence is important though. Although I don't think so, I imagine that TW cast & crew might see BB as unwelcome cultural appropriation. Of course TW had a white head writer and lots of white characters, but there were a lot of black contribtors, and the white characters fit organically/believably into a majority-black cast/city. It correctly depicted police brutality and drug abuse as problems which disproportionately afflict black people. On the other hand, BB's main focus is how clever this individual white man is, and presents it predominantly as a white story. – Ne Mo Feb 3 '18 at 16:16
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    I stress those aren't necessarily MY views, and they may be nobody's views. If you can think of a better way to cram all that into one sentence, please help (seriously) – Ne Mo Feb 3 '18 at 16:18
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    Working a little bit of that comment into the question to explain that statement a little more might help. It's a reasonable viewpoint that I didn't consider before reading your comment (I don't know The Wire, though). – Napoleon Wilson Feb 3 '18 at 16:33
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    @NapoleonWilson - The Wire is compulsory viewing, really. I missed it first time round & box-setted it later. It has to be considered the origin of modern crime drama. It broke rules that are now commonplace 'breakages'. Killing characters with no fuss; it just happens. They don't get a 'farewell' episode, you get no warning.... – Tetsujin Feb 3 '18 at 16:57
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    Can you edit your question to elaborate on the "common themes" you see between Breaking Bad & The Wire? I've watched the entire runs of both of them, and honestly they don't seem that similar to me. Honestly, I think Breaking Bad owes a lot more to The Sopranos than The Wire... – Michael Seifert Feb 5 '18 at 20:33
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I know from listening to the Breaking Bad Insider Podcast that Vince Gilligan often states Sopranos, Goodfellas, Godfather and spaghetti westerns, Once Upon a Time in the West is particularly mentioned in this interview. Gilligan has been inspired by numerous shows and movies. I can't rattle them all off but I know having listened to the podcast that he will mention specific moments in the show that pay homage to other films and shows.

I never have heard him mention the Wire in particular. I would guess that there was probably some inspiration from the Wire but that is speculation. While both shows do have some common themes and both deal with drugs I think the overall purpose and theme of each show is different.

I do not think they are directly related or Breaking Bad is a reaction to the Wire. Breaking Bad is trying to tell the story of a good guy gone bad. It is about why people sometimes do evil things and what effect that has on those around them.

The Wire is more following the drug trade and how it effects not only those on the drugs, but the dealers and law enforcement as well. How drugs effect the society around them and how these cycles of corruption and crime repeat themselves. Breaking Bad only hints at some of that stuff but in general it is a story about Walter White and his journey from a good man to a drug kingpin.

To actually answer your question: David Simon, creator of The Wire, has never seen Breaking Bad so he hasn't really commented on it. And Vince Gilligan has never been directly asked about The Wire but he hasn't mentioned it specifically either so I would guess it didn't have too much of a direct inspiration on Breaking Bad either.

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I don't think this is accurate at all. Apart from a few realistic flourishes like Walt's family falling apart when things start to go pear-shaped for him in the final season, the Wire is so much grittier and darker. Breaking Bad is more focused on one man's moral decline (or actual revelation of what was there all along, where the Wire is about the destructive cycle caused by certain institutionalized systems. While the drug trade gets a hefty amount of screen time there, don't forget that union corruption, declining news importance, and failing schools take the spotlight in individual seasons. Breaking Bad is also aesthetically a lot slicker looking.

  • It's obviously subjective. If you don't see the similarity, there's no question to answer – Ne Mo Apr 22 '18 at 12:32
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    This doesn't answer the actual question, which is "did the creators of Breaking Bad ever comment on The Wire, or vice versa". – F1Krazy Apr 23 '18 at 9:50

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