Game of Thrones has just ended its fourth season, a scant 10 episodes due to the budget constraints of the show. The Walking Dead will return probably in October, about four months from now, and will likely split its season in half again to stretch out its appeal.
But what to watch in between? It used to be that Breaking Bad would be filling this gap, as the must-see cultural TV phenomenon. But now it’s off the air, it feels like we’re missing a pretty big third pillar of yearly TV.
I know that there are higher rated shows than Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead on TV, but you can’t say that despite its huge popularity, something like NCIS is on the same level as these cable shows. Rather, it’s about being a literal force of culture, and I’m not sure anything else is in the same league as those three.
True Blood, Mad Men, Sons of Anarchy and a few other shows certainly may be good and have active fanbases, but they’re not “sweep the nation” popular, where everyone is gathering around the watercooler (or one of many internet water coolers) to discuss the events of the previous episode. Those communities are niche, while hugely appealing shows like NCIS, The Big Bang Theory and others have little to discuss, despite the fact that everyone watches them.
AMC has struggled to produce a replacement for Breaking Bad, as its new shows fail to catch fire (no pun intended) and it’s going to start relying on spin-offs like Better Call Saul and an unnamed new Walking Dead. But will those fill this gap I’m talking about?
Obviously there are plenty of big shows on TV, and plenty of good shows, but I’m not sure what else is on the same level of Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead in terms of widespread appeal now that Breaking Bad has wrapped. What do you think?
[Photo via AMC]