'Mad Men' Premiere Draws Smallest Crowd Since Season 2 Debut

'Mad Men' Premiere Draws Smallest Crowd Since Season 2 Debut

Sunday night’s return of Mad Men, the first episode of the show’s seventh and final season, drew a surprisingly small crowd. The episode proved to be the weakest Mad Men premiere since the show’s second season.

The return of AMC’s acclaimed series for the first part of its 7th and final season drew 2.3 million viewers at 10 PM last night, just ahead of the 2.06 million who watched the Season 2 debut on July 27, 2008. The widely promoted 1-hour debut was down 32% in total viewers from the 3.4 million viewers that watched the Matthew Weiner-created series’ Season 6 premiere on April 7, 2013. That two-hour debut was the second-most-watched episode ever of the period drama. It closely followed the Season 5 debut of March 25, 2012, which was seen by an audience of 3.5 million.

Time–and creative exhaustion–might be catching up Don Draper and his sartorially smart ad executives.

The show’s sixth season was chock full of erratic events–surprise business mergers, accidental shootings, cheating lovers caught in the act–that made the Emmy-winning primetime drama feel more like a daytime soap.