The Leftovers, or Why We Need to Stop Predicting the Next Breaking Bad


The Leftovers premiered a couple of weeks ago on HBO. Based on the Rapture-esque Tom Perrotta novel of the same name, the show follows the lives of a group of small town residents still reeling from an event three years earlier in which 2% of the world’s population mysteriously disappeared. More a treatise on grief than a supernatural mystery, both the show and the book promise a lot of dark introspection without much payoff. Which is fine, depending on how that grief plays out.

The performances are good, although I would argue that while Justin Theroux’s talent at looking angry and sweaty and shirtless is unparalleled, he’s a bit of a dull lead. And, as with all TV shows, there hasn’t been enough Christopher Eccleston yet.

Whether or not people want to spend week after week (particularly in the dead heat of Summer) meditating on grief and loss is debatable, but the show does appear to be off to a good start, lead character and his potential psychosis aside.

And while professional and amateur reviews of the show have been fairly good, there’s one thing that seems to be troubling reviewers and audience members alike: Will this be the next Breaking Bad?

Was Fargo the next Breaking Bad? Was True Detective?

Is Game of Thrones the natural successor to Breaking Bad?

Will we ever get another Breaking Bad?

In a word, no. Truly amazing, transcendent TV is extremely rare. TV is absolutely getting better, to the point where film is starting to look outdated and clunky in comparison, but it’s unfair to constantly set this expectation of brilliance for every new cable premiere.

Moreover, it’s also an expectation that cheapens the thing you consider so great by expecting a natural successor to pop up mere weeks or months after the series finale.

I don’t know yet if The Leftovers will be an amazing show, just like nobody knew what Breaking Bad would become at the two episode mark. I do know that Fargo’s brilliance was blown wildly out of proportion, but I suppose that that’s another post for another day.

In any event, can we just let a show grow and develop without heaping on it some enormous pressure to be the next greatest thing you’ve ever seen?

But seriously — more Eccleston.

7 thoughts on “The Leftovers, or Why We Need to Stop Predicting the Next Breaking Bad

  1. Have there been widespread comparisons to Breaking Bad? I haven’t seen any.

    If anything, I’d say this series is closer in spirit to Mad Men – a slow-burn character study that treats the plot as secondary, focusing instead on careful, gradual character development. I don’t care who the GR are or what they want as a group; I care about why Meg and Laurie joined the GR. I don’t care about Garvey’s problems with dogs or bagels; I want to see whether he can keep his shit together while his family drifts farther away from him. And so on.

  2. A Breaking Bad Fan ranting on how nothing will ever be as good, I don’t understand people like you why do you need to compare them? True Detective is amazing, GoT is amazing, BB is amazing, Leftovers is amazing so is Fargo why one of them has to be better? I fucking hate this mentality

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