While this media surge contributed to this season’s premiere becoming Mad Men’s highest rated episode ever, ratings are not really the point. Mad Men sustains AMC’s brand, providing a specific and prestigious visibility that extends beyond those who actually watch. Mad Men also offers viewers the opportunity to feel simultaneously nostalgic for and superior to a version of an earlier era, achieving a “sophisticated weekly get together of the people we dig and who dig us.”
Superman is the myth attracting the audience and the property that Time Warner values. But this value diminishes if his story is not told enough, so the trick is to render him inexhaustible, allowing him to be consumed without dying.
It is no longer impossible to imagine that AMC might move on, leaving its signature show behind.