The clash over the crown for Sunday night’s top television show began last week with the seventh season premiere of “Mad Men” and the much-hyped “purple wedding”on “Game of Thrones.” However, initial ratings and responses seem to imply it might not be a hard-fought battle after all.
The heavily-promoted final season premiere of “Mad Men” aired last Sunday night to shockingly low ratings. The episode brought in 2.3 million viewers, making it the lowest-rated premiere since the second season’s debut episode in 2008.
Meanwhile on HBO, Sunday night’s “Game of Thrones” episode, airing an hour before “Mad Men,” brought in nearly triple the number of viewers, with 6.3 million live views.
Almost since it began in the summer of 2006, “Mad Men” has been referred to as the show that brought back the golden age of television. It’s the show that the type of people who say they don’t own a television will admit to watching and reference in conversation. Even President Barack Obama referred to the show in his latest State of the Union address. It’s become a part of the mainstream culture, but has that made the show lose its edge? Many of the show’s former faithful viewers (including myself) found the last season more slow-moving and depressing than usual.
“Game of Thrones,” on the other hand, which just began its fourth season, continues to shock viewers on a weekly basis. People STILL have not stopped talking about last season’s “red wedding,” which was, without a doubt, the most brutal and heart-wrenching television scene of 2013. The episode which aired last Sunday night featured another wedding that ended pretty gruesomely for one of the show’s main characters.
While “GoT” has one of the largest casts in television, bigger story lines and plot twists, “Mad Men” has seemingly become smaller, focusing more on the introspective and the personal journey of its characters.
I was thoroughly impressed with the premiere episode of “Mad Men,” “Time Zones.” It had a tone more similar to season three and four’s episodes rather than the aimless, irrelevant season six’s. I’m definitely excited for the next six episodes, but still think it’s ridiculous that the final seven episodes of the series won’t air until spring 2015.
AMC chose to divide up the final season of “Mad Men” into two parts, with a year in between them, because “Breaking Bad” was so successful with the same tactic. This seems ridiculous to me, because “Mad Men” could never be “Breaking Bad.” “Mad Men” has already reached its peak. It’s not a cult hit like “Breaking Bad” was before its final season began. “Mad Men” can’t gain buzz through word-of-mouth because it already benefited as much as it could from that … back in 2010.
“Game of Thrones” is beginning to look like its on the same path as “Breaking Bad.” It started out with a relatively small audience when it premiered in 2010, but the latest season premiere brought the highest numbers ever and broke HBOGo. It continues to be the most illegally downloaded show on the internet.
While it seems like one show is slowly fading, and the other is continuously building, Sunday night might no longer belong to AMC and “Mad Men.”
What will you be watching this Sunday night?