Mad Men is an American dramatic television series created and produced by Matthew Weiner. The series airs on Sunday evenings on the American cable network AMC and is produced by Lionsgate Television. It premiered on July 19, 2007, concluded its fifth season on June 10, 2012 and has been renewed for a sixth season.
Mad Men is set in the 1960s, initially at the fictional Sterling Cooper advertising agency on Madison Avenue in New York City, and later at the newly created firm Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. The focal point of the series is Don Draper (Jon Hamm), creative director at Sterling Cooper and a founding partner at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, and the people in his life, both in and out of the office. The plot focuses on the business of the agencies as well as the personal lives of the characters. As such, it regularly depicts the changing moods and social mores of 1960s America.
Mad Men has received critical acclaim, particularly for its historical authenticity, visual style, costume design, acting, writing, and directing, and has won multiple awards, including fifteen Emmys and four Golden Globes. It is the first and only basic cable series to win the Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series, winning it in each of its first four seasons in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011.
Viewership for the premiere at 10:00 pm on July 19, 2007, was higher than any other AMC original series to date. The premiere attracted 900,000 viewers. The numbers for the first season premiere were more than doubled for the heavily promoted second season premiere. A major drop in viewership for the episode following the second season premiere prompted concern from some television critics.
However, the second season finale posted significantly higher numbers than the series’ first season finale, and was up 20% over the season two average. 1.75 million people viewed the second season finale of Mad Men. The cumulative audience for the episode was 2.9 million viewers, when the two re-broadcasts at 11:00 pm and 1:00 am were factored in.
The third season premiere, which aired August 16, 2009, gained 2.8 million views on its first run, and 0.78 million with the 11:00 pm and 1:00 am repeats. In 2009, Mad Men was second in Nielsen’s list of Top 10 timeshifted primetime TV programs, with a 57.7% gain in viewers, second only to the final season of Battlestar Galactica.
The fourth season premiere of Mad Men was the most watched-episode in AMC history until the series premiere of the AMC original series The Walking Dead, clocking in at 2.9 million viewers, up five percent from the ratings for Season Three’s debut and up 61 percent from the third season average.
The fifth season premiere, “A Little Kiss”, was the most watched-episode of Mad Men of all-time to date, receiving 3.5 million viewers and 1.6 million viewers in the 18–49 demographic. Before the fifth season, Mad Men had never achieved above a 1.0 in the 18–49 demographic. Charlie Collier, AMC’s president, said that “For each of the five Mad Men seasons Matthew Weiner and his team have crafted a beautifully told story and each season a larger audience has responded; a rare accomplishment. We couldn’t be more proud of this program, the brilliant writers, cast and crew, and the entire team on each side of the camera.” The fifth season finale, “The Phantom”, was watched by 2.7 million viewers, the highest ratings for a Mad Men season finale to date.