Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Toronto Film Festival Lineup: What Did They Get? Toronto Film Festival Lineup: What Did They Get? Richard Linklater's Untitled New Film Pushed to 2016, Might Direct Jennifer Lawrence Movie Richard Linklater's Untitled New Film Pushed to 2016, Might Direct Jennifer Lawrence Movie Jill Soloway Says "There Is an All Out-Attack" on Female Filmmakers Jill Soloway Says "There Is an All Out-Attack" on Female Filmmakers 'Steve Jobs' Joins Fall Festival Contenders as NYFF Centerpiece Gala: What's Coming Up and What's Not (UPDATED) 'Steve Jobs' Joins Fall Festival Contenders as NYFF Centerpiece Gala: What's Coming Up and What's Not (UPDATED) Arthouse Audit: Is 'Phoenix' This Year's 'Ida'? 'Mr. Holmes' Stays Strong Arthouse Audit: Is 'Phoenix' This Year's 'Ida'? 'Mr. Holmes' Stays Strong Friday Box Office: Sandler's 'Pixels' Gets Mixed Response, 'Paper Towns,' 'Southpaw' Not Far Behind Friday Box Office: Sandler's 'Pixels' Gets Mixed Response, 'Paper Towns,' 'Southpaw' Not Far Behind Scott Foundas Explains Why He's Leaving Film Criticism--Again--for Amazon Studios Scott Foundas Explains Why He's Leaving Film Criticism--Again--for Amazon Studios Congrats to Monica Bellucci: She's Making History Congrats to Monica Bellucci: She's Making History Broad Green Dates 'Knight of Cups' and Two More Releases Broad Green Dates 'Knight of Cups' and Two More Releases Watch: The Secret Ingredient to David Lynch's Disorienting Cinema Watch: The Secret Ingredient to David Lynch's Disorienting Cinema First Look: 'No' Director Pablo Larraín Channels 'Neruda' with Gael García Bernal First Look: 'No' Director Pablo Larraín Channels 'Neruda' with Gael García Bernal Is 'The Revenant' the Most Hellish Shoot of All Time? Is 'The Revenant' the Most Hellish Shoot of All Time? Broad Green Enters Long-Term Home Video Deal with Universal for Burgeoning Slate Broad Green Enters Long-Term Home Video Deal with Universal for Burgeoning Slate Gabriel García Márquez Documentary Coming Soon (Trailer) Gabriel García Márquez Documentary Coming Soon (Trailer) Watch 'SPECTRE' Trailer: James Bond Meets the Author of His Pain Watch 'SPECTRE' Trailer: James Bond Meets the Author of His Pain 'BoJack Horseman,' 'Rick and Morty,' and Our Love/Hate Relationship with TV 'BoJack Horseman,' 'Rick and Morty,' and Our Love/Hate Relationship with TV Why I Can't Wait to See 'Crimson Peak,' Guillermo del Toro's Sumptuous Period Thriller (VIDEO) Why I Can't Wait to See 'Crimson Peak,' Guillermo del Toro's Sumptuous Period Thriller (VIDEO) First Look at Julianne Moore and Ellen Page as a Gay Couple in 'Freeheld' First Look at Julianne Moore and Ellen Page as a Gay Couple in 'Freeheld' Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A) Why Kevin Costner Paid for 'Black or White' (New Trailer, Sneak Preview Q & A) Gabriel García Márquez and Akira Kurosawa Talk Film, Writing and 'Rhapsody in August' in 1991 Gabriel García Márquez and Akira Kurosawa Talk Film, Writing and 'Rhapsody in August' in 1991

Why Did the 'Mad Men' Season 7 Premiere Tank with Audiences?

Photo of Ryan Lattanzio By Ryan Lattanzio | TOH! April 14, 2014 at 4:28PM

The days of "Mad Men" are numbered, and in more ways than one. Last night's seventh and final season premiere on AMC drew only 2.3 million viewers, the series' lowest ratings since the Season Two debut in 2008. That's even lower than the 2.7 million who tuned in for the sixth season premiere, and the average 3.37 million viewers who watched the finale. So what went wrong?
19
Peggy and Don in 'Mad Men'
Peggy and Don in 'Mad Men'

The days of "Mad Men" are numbered, and in more ways than one. Last night's seventh and final season premiere on AMC drew only 2.3 million viewers, the series' lowest ratings since the Season Two debut in 2008. That's even lower than the 2.7 million who tuned in for the sixth season premiere, and the average 3.37 million viewers who watched last year's finale. So what went wrong?

Well, AMC did do a few things right. The network positioned the premiere close to the Emmy nominations, which will be announced on July 10, so that by the time the first half of the seventh season wraps, "Mad Men" will be fresh in voters' minds. Secondly, AMC and Netflix made Season Six available to stream two weeks ahead of the premiere, encouraging a binge-viewing experience that would hopefully put the series back on the cultural map. 

These strategies were in hopes of maintaining buzz. At the end of last season, we saw the show essentially come unmoored from its bearings, as ad man Don Draper got the boot at Sterling Cooper & Partners for bad behavior, leaving copy chief Peggy Olson in the hot-seat. It was an exciting moment in television, and one that had us hotly anticipating what would come next.

Could it be that low Nielsen ratings for "Time Zones," the Season Seven premiere, reflect a general fatigue audiences are feeling toward the show? Seven seasons is long for a sophisticated adult drama. HBO's "The Sopranos," for which "Mad Men" showrunner Matthew Weiner also wrote, smartly cut the cord at six seasons before it could start losing steam.

Throughout a sixth season filled with boozing and infidelity, "Mad Men" blatantly mirrored that trashy soap opera starring Megan Draper, "To Have and To Hold." And like all soaps, the series was recycling its old tropes: Don was cheating again (again), Peggy was obsessing over a guy, and the writers started using drug-induced hallucinations as a crutch. In the case of Season Six, that happened in two episodes that weren't very far apart, from the amphetamine-addled "The Crash" (episode 8) to the hash-inspired death dreams of "A Tale of Two Cities" (episode 10).

"Time Zones," however, was a brilliant episode, filled with the subtle undercurrents of humor and sadness and poetry that we're used to seeing in "Mad Men." And now, the series, like Don who divides his time between NY and California, is bicoastal, and relocating a few of our favorite characters to Los Angeles (a swarthy Pete Campbell among them) is just what the series needed in order to reboot. 

Here's hoping more viewers will tune in to the conclusion of one of TV's great achievements.


This article is related to: Mad Men, Television, News


E-Mail Updates








Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.