Like most cable TV channels that began their lives in the 1980s, AMC has undergone programming shifts and rebranding efforts that have made the channel's current identity virtually unrecognizable compared to its original incarnation. AMC's reinvention has been more successful than those of most other cable channels, however, and it's become on the most powerful programming forces on television.
American Movie Classics got its start in 1984, when it established itself as an alternative to youth-oriented channels such as MTV. The channel aired, as it name suggested, classic movies, mostly from the first half of the twentieth century, and it aimed its programming at an older audience.
In 2002, American Movie Classics was rebranded as AMC, and the channel began airing theatrical movies from all eras. The channel's real success, though, came with its original dramatic programming later in the decade. AMC's current reputation is built largely on the success of just three of its original series, but those series are among the most talked-about (and viewed) series on TV in recent years.
"Mad Men," a dramatic series about the advertising industry in the 1960s, debuted in 2006 and immediately drew both an avalanche of critical praise and larger ratings than most other cable series. "Breaking Bad," about a high school chemistry teacher who becomes a drug dealer, began in 2008 and garnered even more praise and bigger ratings numbers. "The Walking Dead," a horror drama based on a comic book about zombies, premiered in 2010 and quickly became the highest-rated scripted program not just on cable, but on all TV networks.