"Although there’s always been a crime drama subgenre of loveable, capering crooks as central characters, pitted against brutal/bungling cops, the hierarchy of the mainstream crime drama, in terms of who knows what, has historically been quite strict. At the top of the knowledge tree there’s the writer, who knows everything. Next come the criminals, who are one step ahead of the police. Next comes the hero-detective, lonely at the front of the pursuit. Trailing in last place are the rest of the police and us, the viewers: everyone else always knows more about what’s going on than we do. The Wire upended that hierarchy. By giving equal time and a great deal of sympathy to the drug dealers, alongside the police, we knew not only what the two groups were doing, but what they knew and didn’t know about what the other side was doing. One season started with our being shown a drug gang stashing bodies behind stapled hardboard in derelict houses; no detective found out about it till 12 episodes later. We, the viewers, are promoted up the hierarchy of knowledge to a place just below the writer – a position identical to that of the audience in classical tragedy and comedy. We’re not watching to find out whodunnit or why. We’re watching to find out how they’re going to deal with it when they discover what we already know."
— James Meek reviews ‘Breaking Bad’ produced by Vince Gilligan · LRB 3 January 2013 (via slavin)
The last sentence sums it all up — and also happens to be the definition of great comedy, too.