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“Homeland” vs. “Breaking Bad”: Sunday night’s cable-drama battle

For the second Sunday in a row, "Breaking Bad" is set to beat "Homeland." Last weekend, the meth potboiler defeated the CIA thriller -- the reigning best drama champion -- at the Emmys, as its penultimate episode unspooled and took over the portion of Twitter not caught up in the awards show. And this weekend, on Sunday at 9 p.m. Eastern time, as "Breaking Bad" airs its final episode, "Homeland" is set to kick off its third season.

Pity poor Carrie Mathison, the mentally ill counterterrorism agent at the center of the "Homeland" action. "Breaking Bad" has enjoyed an unprecedented climb in viewership toward the end of its run on AMC, with its season premiere getting 5.9 million viewers, a shockingly high figure for a cable drama. The show will not merely outperform Showtime's "Homeland" (as premium-cable series, "Homeland" is at a disadvantage; last year's season premiere, buoyed by Emmy wins, got 1.7 million viewers, a fraction of "Breaking Bad's" current viewership on basic cable); it's almost certain to outperform it on social media, as well. As the finale of one of the most acclaimed and confident series of all time airs, is it likely that anyone but contrarians will be tweeting about "Homeland," a show whose last season was, well, uneven?

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