Could Mad Men wreck Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead?

Fans fear that AMC has spent so much money on Don Draper and Co. that it won't have enough left over to maintain its other hit series

Jon Hamm makes $250,000 per episode playing Don Draper on AMC's "Mad Men" -- the exact amount that the per-episode budget of "The Walking Dead" was just cut.
(Image credit: AMC)

Mad Men creator and executive producer Matthew Weiner is now commanding nearly $10 million a season. Meanwhile, in recent weeks AMC has pushed for big budget cut on some of its other acclaimed series. On The Walking Dead, $250,000 per episode was slashed from the budget, and the show lost highly regarded executive producer Frank Darabont. The network also tried to limit Breaking Bad to just six or eight episodes for its next season, instead of the standard 13. That led the Bad studio to begin shopping the show around to other networks. All the discord has Hollywood wondering if the highbrow cable network is spending piles of money to keep Mad Men swimming in martinis and dressed in smartly cut suits at the expense of some of its other offerings. Is it?

Well, Weiner is overpaid: We all love Mad Men, says Emily Cheever at Ology. But "Christ on a cracker," Weiner is raking in quite a lot of money for 13 episodes. "He doesn't even write all of those episodes." AMC is obviously playing favorites with its shows, but it had better be careful. If a parent gives one kid preferential treatment, "the mistreated child[ren] end up revolting against you in pretty messed up ways."

"What the hell is going on at AMC?"

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

And AMC's priorities are all wrong: "AMC has made a bunch of moves recently that one might describe as 'curious'... Or very, very dumb," says Phillip Ramati in the Macon Telegraph. It lost Darabont and slashed production costs on Walking Dead — "arguably its most popular series." The loss of Darabont is particularly galling given that "showrunner Veena Sud of The Killing, who gave us one of the worst season finales in TV history," is inexplicably still around. The network should prioritize its best shows, like Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead, instead of sinking ships like The Killing.

"What's the deal, AMC?"

Relax. All is well: The rising cost of Mad Men is in no way hurting AMC's other programs, says network president Charlie Collier, as quoted by the Los Angeles Times. AMC has "taken some of the most expensive, riskiest shows around and nurtured them and managed to grow our network." I don't want to get into specifics, but I can promise that the next season of The Walking Dead "will look like a movie every week." Sure, we don't have a perfect track record with every show, but thus far "the net results have turned out pretty well."

"A bit of money madness at AMC"

To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us