So is AMC the greatest cable network of all time?

Just for discussion; no poll here.

The list of highly rated/critically acclaimed shows on AMC continues to grow. I’m sure there are Dopers who will disagree, but I honestly can’t think of another network with this many consistent quality broadcasts. I considered HBO for a moment, with Game Of Thrones and Sex & The City, but the list comes in way short of AMC, plus AMC boasts (debatable of course) what many consider the greatest TV drama of all time.
Hard to argue with this list (again - you may not personally like all the shows listed but they all had quite a fan base):

[li]Breaking Bad[/li][li]Mad Men[/li][li]Halt and Catch Fire[/li][li]Hell on Wheels[/li][li]The Killing[/li][li]The Walking Dead[/li][li]Making of the Mob[/li][li]Comic Book Men[/li][li]Better Call Saul[/li][li]Talking Dead[/li][li]Turn[/li][li]Humans[/li][/ol]

Plus we have a few new shows coming that look quite good:

[li]Into the Badlands[/li][li]Preacher[/li][li]Broken Trail[/li][/ol]

What say you, Dopers? Is there another network that can compete?


The Sopranos
The Wire
Silicon Valley
Six Feet Under
Boardwalk Empire
Game of Thrones
True Detective SEASON ONE :smiley:
Mr. Show
Sex and the City

If Breaking Bad is in the discussion for the greatest series of all time (and it should be), pretty much everything else in the discussion was on HBO. (Sopranos, Wire, Six Feet Under.)


Off your list of AMC shows, there is exactly one I found worth my time. The wife would say three. So the answer to the OP is No. Heck, The Food Network (in all its current crappiness) has more than that on a Sunday morning!

Yeah, AMC can’t touch HBO. Breaking Bad and Mad Men are a great core, but even if you consider them better than anything else on HBO, the rest of the lineup smokes the rest of AMC’s lineup.

Yeah, how do Talking Dead and Comic Book Men even get on that list?

Also, OneCentStamp put together a great list of HBO dramas (for the most part), but HBO has some fantastic miniseries (Band of Brothers, Angels in America, Show Me a Hero, etc) and comedies (Sex and the City was already listed, but Veep is a fantastic show as well, Last Week Tonight, Curb Your Enthusiasm, the Larry Sanders Show, etc). Not even a contest.

Breaking Bad*
Mad Men*
Halt and Catch Fire
Hell on Wheels**
The Killing*
The Walking Dead**
Making of the Mob
Comic Book Men
Better Call Saul***

So AMC has 3 shows that were top rated and critically rated as being good from beginning to end of show*. The Walking Dead started off good but is now very unpopular**, Hell On Wheels may be good but has never been in the running for Greatest TV show**. The last shows on the list*** may be good also but are too new or too small to be on the list of greatest shows ever.

The Sopranos*
The Wire*
Silicon Valley
Six Feet Under*
Boardwalk Empire*
Game of Thrones*
True Detective SEASON ONE *
Mr. Show
Sex and the City *

HBO however has at least 9 shows that could be argued to either be the greatest show ever or at least come close to that list.
But, of course, HBO is cable so it’s really an unfair comparison…

I’ll give you my opinion in the second half of the season. Ping me around next summer.


Great programming, though, maybe even better than HBO overall.[/spoiler]

“HBO is cable”? And AMC is… what, AM radio? (Did you mean premium? A lot of cable bundles put AMC on at least a second or third tier of service.)

I’m not sure I understand your criteria. Walking Dead’s 5th season averaged close to three times as many viewers as first season so I’m not sure how it is very unpopular.
For AMC you use a criteria of good from beginning to end, but Six Feet Under certainly doesn’t meet that criteria (lull in the middle).
And you cite one season of True Detective but discount AMC shows as being too new.
I happen to agree about HBO being the winner but I can’t follow your logic.

Having “quite a fanbase” is not a marker of quality. The Real Housewife shows and the Kardashian show have “quite a fanbase” and they are steaming piles of cotton candy covered crap.

AMC loses an opportunity to be considered “the greatest cable network of all time”, IMO, because it strayed SOOOOOO far from it’s core. AMC, American Movie Classics began (in 1984) as premium cable network that aired classic movies, commercial free, uncut, uncensored and uncolored. It was great! Then it began to change. Commercials (a lot of them!) were added. The movies would be edited and they began to air films that were far from classic.

Yes, over the last decade they’ve begun airing quality shows, excellent shows, but I’ll never forgive them for completely jacking up their reason for being. The airing of classic films.

(Yes I know, we have TCM that airs classic, unedited films, but why can’t we have more than one network that does that?)

I’d nominate FX as the best, or at least one of the best. Here are some of their current or past shows:

[li]The Americans[/li][li]Fargo[/li][li]Louie[/li][li]American Horror Story[/li][li]The Shield[/li][li]Damages[/li][li]Sons of Anarchy[/li][li]Justified[/li][li]Terriers[/li][li]The Bridge[/li][li]It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia[/li][li]You’re the Worst[/li][li]Archer[/li][li]Wilfred[/li][/ul]

Not all of their shows are great, and some are divisive, but overall AMC has a pretty great track record. Some shows like American Horror Story are wildly inconsistent, but I appreciate networks trying for something different.

A quick and dirty way is to look at ratings and awards. But HBO is subscriber based, so it’s not apples vs apples. “Fan bases” don’t mean jack when it comes to overall popularity or critical acclamation. AMC, for example, was the 8th most viewed cable channel in 2014, and USA Network is usually #1.

AMC has been riding its Walking Dead franchise- TWD, FTWD, and Talking Dead are huge but even Mad Men only pushed 2 million.

Checking out IMDB ratings is also an option, I guess, but still skewed heavily to fans on the net who review shows, and ignores ratings.

According to Emmy Awards, AMC only has Breaking Bad and Mad Men as shows of note. Showtime received awards for Homeland, Nurse Jackie, and United States of Tara.

There’s no question that HBO is much more critically acclaimed than AMC.

Well, I cut and pasted both lists. I never watched Walking Dead past season 2 or 3… I quit the season they got to the prison… that season was going OK I just quit watching, I don’t remember why. But I was under the impression that with that season onward the show went downhill and actually got to the point that many/most people hated it/ridiculed it. And I quit watching Six Feet Under during the the middle seasons, but, I thought most other people still liked it…

I was just giving a basic impression. I think your points are probably valid.

I’d say most of those shows are simply popular as opposed to being really good shows, ie, writing, directing, acting, set design, etc

I haven’t seen Americans. I’d say The Shield is their best acclaimed show. Fargo was really really good but we’ve only had one season. SOA turned into a train wreck. The best show on the list, IMHO, Justified, is far far better than it gets credit for. I’m really not sure why it’s not in contention for best TV ever like BB, Sopranos, The Wire is…

The two greatest cable networks of all time are MTV and The Weather Channel. And they are coincidentally the ones that fell farthest from their original premise (even more than American Movie Classics).

MTV gave us 24 hour videos in all their glory, and nothing but. It made successes out of obscure bands based only on their videos. It made Miami Vice possible. It also reduced the attention span of Americans to that of a gnat on speed. But most of all, it gave us Martha Quinn.

There never has been and likely never will be again a cable network that had that much impact on American culture. Mere scripted drama is fluff compared to the cultural shift that MTV caused.

And the weather channel fulfilled a niche we didn’t even know we needed. it made weather interesting and available.

And they both threw it all away. MTV now is known as the reality channel, and TWC shows movies about weather.

Whether AMC is a great cable channel is debatable. But with the increasing amount of original programming and non American films, it is approaching the most misnamed.

But as long as The Learning Channel continues with its current path, AMC ain’t gonna touchum.

My impression was that FX shows were much more acclaimed than popular. Like The Americans hasn’t gotten great ratings, but has a small group of passionate fans and critical acclaim. I’ve seen it’s been called the best show on TV by multiple critics, but when I looked up what the ratings were, I found an article headlined Low-Rated Series The Americans Will Come Back Next Year. And Fargo has only had one season, but it was a great season and shows the quality that FX is going for.

And FX has been nominated for or won a lot of awards. FX set a record for most award nominations for a basic cable channel last year. It’s won Peabody Awards for Justified, Louie, The Bridge, Fargo, and The Americans, compared to just Mad Men and Breaking Bad winning them for AMC.

That’s a gross overstatement of MTV’s influence.

MTV put the radio business on autopilot and influence the music biz as long as it was mostly playing videos. Aside from maybe Miami Vice, it never had much influence on tv programming aside from direct copying and the occasional variation (like “Night Flight”).

It hasn’t done either for a long time. Its flagship channel is just a string of reality shows. None of its channels lead, they all follow.

And that may be an understatement ;). I think music videos did transform music quite a bit in the 1980s. Michael Jackson and hair bands I think became far greater cultural phenomenons due to the music video.

In addition, reality TV was directly influenced by “The Real World” - that show started that entire genre really.