6 Gritty shows to fill the Breaking Bad void

Oct 2, 2013 at 9:13 a.m. ET

To round out your Breaking Bad withdrawal package, today we give to you six shows you can view at your leisure to get your fix of crime, family, drugs, drama and violence. Oh, and excellent writing and acting credits to boot. You're welcome!

The Wire after Breaking Bad

You loved Breaking Bad and now you're looking for something equally as compelling to dig into your soul and thrust you into the next episode without skipping a beat. We've got you covered. All of these programs have been nominated for — and won — awards; too many to count. The best news? Almost all of the shows are available for a decent amount of binge viewing — our new favorite American pastime.

6) Love/Hate

This Irish crime drama airs exclusively on Hulu in the U.S. Starring Robert Sheehan (Misfits), Aidan Gillen (Game of Thrones) and Tom Vaughan-Lawlor, the story focuses on Dublin's criminal underworld. You'll find drugs, sex and plenty of violence. Much like Breaking Bad, Love/Hate is a deeply disturbing look at what living in the grueling world of crime does to families. Beautiful souls are crushed, innocence is lost and some desperately cling to what little hope they have left as they are driven to carry out acts they never believed possible. With 14 episodes spanning three seasons so far, be prepared to be sucker-punched and gutted more than once as you settle in for your weekend binge viewing. Trust me, you won't want to turn it off.

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5) Luther

This BBC Production stars Idris Elba as DCI John Luther, a near-genius whose brilliant mind can't always keep him from acting upon his violent tendencies. Creator Neil Cross said he had in mind both Sherlock Holmes and Columbo (yes, the 1970s classic starring Peter Falk) when he created Luther, imagining the brilliance of Sherlock and the inverted detective story in which a crime is committed at the beginning of the program so viewers see how the detective arrives at his conclusions by working backwards through the case. The first two seasons of Luther are currently streaming on Netflix and Season 3 can be found on BBC America On Demand.

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4) Oz

The first one-hour drama series on HBO, this groundbreaking series took us behind the bars of an experimental cell block in the Oswald Maximum Security Correctional Facility, Level Four, Emerald City — Oz. Tobias Beecher (Lee Tergesen), a lawyer, husband and father, killed a young child after too many drinks one night after work and was sent to prison. It was a scenario that could quite literally happen to any one of us, and made the series both relevant and frightening. You can find Oz on DVD or HBO Go.

3) Boardwalk Empire

Starring Steve Buscemi as Nucky Thompson, a fictional character based on a true politician and part-time gangster in Prohibition-era New Jersey, Boardwalk Empire airs on HBO and is littered with historical references, crime, sex, gambling and violence. Among the characters, you'll find the likes of Al Capone, Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky all lending credence to the story of Nucky as he controls Atlantic City in the 1920s as the undisputed ruler of the fascinating beachside town. Season 4 is currently airing on HBO and the full series is on HBO Go.

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2) The Sopranos

Another New Jersey based crime drama, The Sopranos was based around mobster Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) as he tried to find work/life balance between the crime syndicate he ran and his family obligations. The violent nature of his business took its toll in the first episode when Tony suffered a panic attack, driving him to visit a psychiatrist, played by Lorraine Bracco. The course of their relationship, both professional and personal, grounded the series with its ties to reality, giving everything that followed, no matter how utterly despicable and unbelievable, some depth and humanity. You can watch the series on DVD and HBO Go.

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1) The Wire

While many have recently been calling Breaking Bad the best series of all time, until that point, I had always heard that particular honor went to The Wire. At least one actor from every other show on this list appeared on The Wire at some point in their careers. The Wire is the Kevin Bacon of great crime dramas on television, whether they originate in the U.S., the U.K. or Ireland.

Starring Dominic West as Det. Jimmy McNulty, for five seasons the HBO series studied the Baltimore drug scene through the eyes of both law enforcement and the criminal element. Series creator David Simon has been quoted as saying it wasn't really a crime drama at all but, "really about the American city, and about how we live together. It's about how institutions have an effect on individuals. Whether one is a cop, a longshoreman, a drug dealer, a politician, a judge or a lawyer, all are ultimately compromised and must contend with whatever institution to which they are committed." You can watch the series on DVD and HBO Go.


So, there you have it — six shows you can watch to feed your need for intense and intriguing drama such that was presented to you by Vince Gilligan in the form of Breaking Bad. Which one will you watch first?

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