Some say that Breaking Bad has inherited the mantle of Best Show About Drugs from The Wire, even though, at their core, neither show is truly about drugs. Now the former has borrowed something else from the latter: its opening credits sequences.
One of the many distinctive aspects of David Simon’s novelistic HBO crime series, aside from, you know, everything, is the show’s opening credits. Although the format—a combination of surveillance footage and thematic elements from each season—remained consistent until the end, the imagery changed each year. Fittingly enough, the theme song "Way Down in the Hole" by Tom Waits was covered by a different artist each time out, with turns by The Neville Brothers, Steve Earle, and the Blind Boys of Alabama. Perhaps sensing a kinship between the two shows, YouTuber James Montalbano has cut opening credits sequences for each season of Breaking Bad, which mimic those of The Wire exactly.
The new versions are very faithfully done, beginning with the crinkly static of the HBO logo (but with Breaking’s network AMC subbed in) and ending with a representative quote from the episode ahead in the same typewriter font as its forebear. The songs change in the same progression that they did on The Wire, and new characters and scenery are cycled in chronologically (aloha, Los Hermanos!). Even though cultural critic Chuck Klosterman has compared the shows before, seeing Breaking Bad through this lens illuminates their similarities and makes a good case for both shows’ inclusion in the pantheon of capital-g Great entertainment.
Watch all five credits sequences in the slide show above.