Why 10-year-old 'Mad Men' is still the best show to come out of television's Golden Age

don draper mad men


Jon Hamm as Don Draper/Dick Whitman.

A decade ago, AMC was just the channel you'd skip because it was playing an old movie you'd either never heard of, or you'd seen too many times already.

But when AMC's "Mad Men" premiered ten years ago today, and it quickly became one of the most iconic shows of all time, and proved that television was in a Golden Age.

"Mad Men" was AMC's first try at an original series. And before it aired, expectations weren't high.
It starred mostly unknown actors: No one knew who the lead, Jon Hamm, was.

The biggest draw to the show was that Matthew Weiner, the show's creator, had written on HBO's "The Sopranos," which ended its run about a month before "Mad Men" started. But in 2007, showrunners and television writers weren't really big names yet, they were more behind-the-scenes.

While the first season of "Mad Men" wasn't very popular, it was a hit among critics and at awards season in 2008. Recognition at the Emmys and the Golden Globes gave it a broader audience that included fans of shows like "The Sopranos." "Mad Men" was character-driven and challenging for viewers, but different enough that it felt fresh and new. And it proved that a great show didn't need big names or a big network.

"Mad Men" also paved the way for AMC's original shows including "Breaking Bad," "The Walking Dead," and "Better Call Saul."

Here's why "Mad Men" is one of the best shows ever, and the best to come out of television's Golden Age: