Last night was the Mad Men season three premiere. Dave and I made a serious effort to get caught up this weekend–season two was available OnDemand and we watched pretty much the entire second season in the last three days in order to be caught up for last night’s new episode. It was pretty awesome.
This is truly a great show, and I love all the characters for their complexity and depth. But one character makes me happier than any other: Pete Campbell. Pete is a total jerk and pretty much always gets what’s coming to him (which is one of the great things about the show). His sense of entitlement is completely out of line with his actual position, both at work and in society.
The main reason that I love Pete is that all his attempts end up blowing up in his face, precisely because he thinks the world owes him. It’s so great to see Pete make a really creepy attempt to flirt with some girl and have her just ignore him…you can tell it makes him so mad, and he seems to have no idea why Don (apparently) doesn’t even have to try to get women, while all his attempts are miserable failures.
SPOILER ALERT One of my favorite moments came last night when Pete thought he got a promotion. It turns out the new owners of Sterling Cooper split the position in two parts, so Pete’s not the only Head of Accounts now…he has to share the glory. And one thing Pete Campbell does not enjoy is sharing the glory that’s “rightfully” his. Because, you know, he’s so great and the world should be recognizing how amazing he is. His explosions are so hilarious!
But, I would be remiss if I made Pete out to be a one-dimensional spoiled brat. While that is the majority of what we see in his personality, the writers are careful to give us enough back story to provide reasons for his sense of entitlement and hunger to be on the top. He feels a lot of pressure to be the best, from his parents, Trudy (his wife), and his in-laws.
The higher education administrator in me sees some possible parallels between Pete’s sense of entitlement and that of the Millennial Generation in the workforce…I wonder if we’re all going to start seeing more Pete Campbells in our offices as higher education turns out more Millennials who believe their mere presence is a blessing to the world. But that’s a conversation for another time.
For now, if you don’t watch Mad Men, you need to start. Don’t even bother starting to watch Season three now–there’s a TON of backstory to all of the characters, and there’s no possible way to catch up besides just watching all the episodes from the beginning. And everytime you see Pete Campbell, enjoy his eye-roll inducing antics. He’s hilarious.