‘Better Call Saul’ sticks to cable

The prequel to ‘Breaking Bad’ calls viewers to leave behind binge-watching habits


Courtesy of IMDb

‘Better Call Saul’ continues the legacy that ‘Breaking Bad’ began.

Conor Metzger, Staff Writer

“Whatever happens next, it’s not going to go down the way you think it is.” This sentence ends the trailer for the sixth season of “Better Call Saul”, the hit AMC show that has captivated millions. Anticipation has been building, with many excited for the final sendoff of the infamous character Saul Goodman. 

The show itself is a prequel to what is possibly the greatest mark of the “Golden Age of Television” — “Breaking Bad”. But, instead of exploring the high-stakes world of meth, “Better Call Saul” focuses on litigation and sibling rivalry. This series quickly became a hit to audiences and critics alike, albeit with some early questioning as to how “Breaking Bad” could be topped.

Although I was originally a skeptic, I became invested after watching the season one episode “Five-O”, in which Jonathan Banks’ character, Mike Ehrmantraut, delivers the gut-wrenching “I broke my boy” monologue. This scene made me realize how little I knew about some of my favorite “Breaking Bad” characters. That made me choose to tune in every week to catch the new episode, something unheard of in today’s modern world of binge-watching. 

Let’s not leave TV-watching traditions behind and instead move back to a time when we could all find common joy in the shows we love so much. ”

“Breaking Bad” owes its popularity partly to its addition to Netflix. Viewers quickly took note of the show and began turning on their TVs to catch the new season after they had binged on the streaming service. Since then, “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul” have continued to appear on Netflix, both remaining popular with the addition of each new season.

However, “Better Call Saul” does not add new episodes to Netflix until the beginning of its next season. Even now, viewers cannot watch season five of “Better Call Saul” on Netflix, which aired in early 2020. Many people don’t want to wait that long to watch the new season, which is why “Better Call Saul” is projected to have successful ratings this spring — even with the end of cable television becoming more of a reality every day. This begs the question — is “Better Call Saul” the last great cable TV show? 

I sure think so. People no longer have the drive or the discipline to watch something every week at a specific time. The allure of “watch anywhere — anytime” is too strong to allow people to do anything differently. For this reason, we are missing out on what used to be a great event watching television.

This is partly why some streaming series are adopting weekly episode releases — to keep audiences in suspense and the conversation surrounding their services lasting longer than a couple of weeks, which is the average cultural lifespan of a hit streaming series.

Honestly, if you want to know what really brings people together, it’s not a common enemy but rather something in which we can all find joy. Streaming services are a signifier of a lonelier time in television history, of which I am terrified. Even today, I try to organize “watch parties” for some shows just to participate in the communal aspect that TV can bring. Watching TV alone after a long day can be a good thing, but making a habit of it can be detrimental to one’s mental health. 

I encourage you to look at how much TV you are watching with friends. Also — with the rise of movies skipping theaters and going straight to streaming — we should be mindful of the loss of community that accompanies a change in our consumption of media. 

I know I have already planned for my group of friends to tune in for the new episodes of “Better Call Saul”, and I encourage you to find something to watch with your own friends. Let’s not leave TV-watching traditions behind and instead move back to a time when we could all find common joy in the shows we love so much.