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Pete Campbell: The Black Sheep of the Mad Men


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#571

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Posted Apr 1, 2012 @ 11:40 PM

I really didn't like the obvious move either.

And the out-of-the-blue he's like a son to Roger? I don't think so. Roger loved to kick Pete when he was down. All the time.

I'm not sure I'm up for an entire season of Roger vs Pete if both of them come off looking bad.
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#572

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Posted Apr 2, 2012 @ 10:27 AM

It was petty as all hell and completely unnecessary, but I still thought it was kind of funny. Roger largely brought it on himself by trying to poach the account in the first place.
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#573

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Posted Apr 2, 2012 @ 11:00 AM

And the out-of-the-blue he's like a son to Roger? I don't think so. Roger loved to kick Pete when he was down. All the time.

I think that Roger was rewriting his own history there. He did it when he said that he discovered Don a few seasons back. So, when Roger was talking to Don in "Tea Leaves," it came off to me that he was feeling bad about his current predicament, which was made all the more obvious at the all-staff meeting. Ever since he lost Lucky Strike, Roger has been nothing more than a figurehead who has the position due to being the son of Sterling.

I think this stuff between Pete and Roger has been building for some time, too, going back to the loss of Lucky Strike. Pete wants to work; Roger wants to play, and Roger didn't do himself any favors by holding out on the loss of Lucky Strike. It's been a year since then, and I doubt that Roger has been any more productive than he was (or wasn't) when he had to essentially babysit Lee Garner, Jr.
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#574

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Posted Apr 11, 2012 @ 3:36 AM

I find it odd that many people keep jumping on Greg as Dr. Rapist, but Pete and what he did to that au pair, which certainly was not consensual, eventually got pushed under the carpet. One and the same.
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#575

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Posted Apr 11, 2012 @ 7:07 AM

I find it odd that many people keep jumping on Greg as Dr. Rapist, but Pete and what he did to that au pair, which certainly was not consensual, eventually got pushed under the carpet. One and the same.


emphasis added

I totally disagree. The Dr Rapist scene was intended to be a rape. The au pair scene was not. The DVD commentary and interviews with Weiner and Kartheiser have made these statements multiple times.

Certainly the interpretation that it was rape is very common. One blogger who repeated "Pete Campbell is a rapist" like 20 times in their article IMO to make it a true fact but it was not the intent of the show to turn Pete into a rapist. "Mad Men" is not going to play it like it was a rape because from the show runner's perspective it wasn't. It was intended to be consensual. In the rape scene w/ Joan we see her face and the act. With the scene with Gunrud she was kissing Pete back and they did the "fade to black".

What they intended to show was the power balance wrong and Pete pushed the issue. More importantly, the intent of the entire liaison was to show Pete realized that he is far better with Trudy than without her. Hence the final "apology" scene of don't leave me alone again. Further, it was made clear IMO Pete did not intend to rape her and didn't know Gunrud was upset til her boss said so the next day. It does not make what Pete did right but per the commentary Pete didn't even think sex was an option til she kissed him on the cheek. I know it can be interpreted vastly differently, this is what the commentary said. Before listening to the commentary, I thought Pete was trying to play "nice New Yorker" and didn't pursue sex til he got drunk. I think I am the only person on the planet with that interpretation but it's closer to the writer's intent than "Pete is a rapist".

Look at two other power-balance issue liasons and see why they are not called rape:
1) Roger when he had a heart attack. Was the power balance with the selected twin right? No. She was in the room because Roger picked her out of a lineup to get a job and then took her back to his office for drinks. They looked uncomfortable at the start to be sure. But then she was laughing and drunk so that must have meant it was okay while Gunrud cried tears the next day so it wasn't? In this case it was showing Roger being abusive IMO with the girl and he "pushed the issue" but it was all about Roger's heart attack and Miss double aluminum is never remembered.
2) Don and Allison. Don pushed the issue. Allison was attracted to Don and had a good time but got tossed away the next day with devastating consequences. In this case one could say as her direct boss the power balance was wrong. But no one ever says that. Why? Was it because she was always so nice to him and clearly never acted like her job was in jeopardy? I think that is the case. So on paper the power-balance is wrong but the reality seemed different. Instead this is chalked up to Don didn't follow his own rules. Certainly not considered rape but at the end of the day, Allison has a new job.

The show dealt with the fallout with Allison by giving Don a funny secretary. And that's how it rolls.

My point is simple: the show doesn't treat what happened with Gunrud as rape because that was not their intent. MW was surprised at audience reaction and I suspect he probably will be more clear in future iffy scenes because of unintended audience reaction. But he's just not the kind of show-runner to take audience reaction to a scene and retrofit it into a character trait of Pete.

Mad Men has a lot of iffy scenes. The audience has a right to interpret the show's scenes anyway it wants and react to it. I think it's unrealistic to expect Matt Weiner to change one of his main character's storylines due to that unintended reaction.

Edited by SueB, Apr 11, 2012 @ 7:11 AM.

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#576

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Posted Apr 11, 2012 @ 9:15 AM

I rewatched Wee Small Hours, Ep. 3-9, recently and noticed a quick scene I'd overlooked before: Lee Garner, Jr. trying to instruct Pete on the proper way to inhale a cigarette. Pete, of course, chokes and coughs, so it appears he has never been a smoker (consistent with his asking/telling Roger not to smoke in his office a few weeks ago and his disdainful reference to being surrounded by smoke on his train ride). Trudy doesn't seem to be a smoker either, so they really ARE at the vanguard of the new generation. But man, it must be tough to be so surrounded by smokers all the time.
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#577

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Posted Apr 11, 2012 @ 9:26 AM

But man, it must be tough to be so surrounded by smokers all the time.


No kidding. I grew up in a house of smokers til I was 14 (by then my father died and my mother quit smoking). I'm like a reformed smoker, I can smell it from a distance.

I liked that the had Pete 1)put out Kenny's still smoldering cigarette and 2) tell Roger not to smoke in his office. The first was very subtle, the second could be interpreted as a power play but I really think Pete is reflecting a culture that has changed and says at least saying it's alright to ask people not to smoke in your "area". He can't do that yet in the conference room, the train, or in someone's office but at least he feels free enough to say "please don't" in his own workspace.
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#578

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Posted Apr 11, 2012 @ 9:35 AM

That scene also gave a really good comic gag (pun intended) of Pete hacking afterward in the background while Ken (?) dealt with Lee Garner, Jr. in the foreground.
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#579

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Posted Apr 11, 2012 @ 9:54 AM

I loved when Pete told Roger not to smoke in his office. I am also the child of two smoking parents and have NEVER been a smoker. I remember when I first hit the workforce in early 1979, people still smoked in the office. I think it was this way until 1990 at least...maybe later. By 1990, I was working in Seattle, which was way ahead of its time on issues like this, so our office was no smoking.

I also traveled extensively during the 80s and hated it. It didn't matter if you sat in the no smoking section...the air was all recirculated. I still smelled like smoke. When they banned smoking on flights less than 2 hrs, I would hop across the country on commuter flights to avoid the smoke!

In this past week's episode, Megan told Don to go home "and no smoking". On the surface, this seems obvious because he's sick, but I've also not seen Don smoking around Megan this season. I wonder if she's put up the "no smoking" sign in the apartment.
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#580

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Posted Apr 11, 2012 @ 10:45 AM

I totally disagree. The Dr Rapist scene was intended to be a rape. The au pair scene was not. The DVD commentary and interviews with Weiner and Kartheiser have made these statements multiple times.


Despite the fact that she had told him she had a boyfriend and he obviously pressured his way into her apartment when she obviously wasn't enthusiastic about having him in there and she was seen crying afterwards? It is strange that they would go to any lengths to defend it as not rape, b/c in the end, it still shows that Pete is beneath contempt and it is no better than what Greg did.
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#581

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Posted Apr 11, 2012 @ 10:50 AM

I was fascinated when I learned that Pete scene wasn't intended to be rape--in fact, it makes me look a little askance at Weiner for it. It reminds me of Ginsberg's pitch about the shoes. He sets up a situation that's all about the power imbalance, has Pete make a pass at the girl, she says NO, he goes home and gets drunk then comes back and reminds her of all she owes him (with the implied threat that he could tell on her) and she lets him in (having already gone to bed) and they have sex. And he's SURPRISED that people read it as rape? Makes me think he's dealing with a rather male-centered view of rape--the one that says that it's only rape if the man tells himself he's raping her!

I mean, that whole episode is set up around who has power and who doesn't, and the person with the power gets to force the person without power to do things. I think it works the same way whether Weiner wants Pete to be a good guy or not. I think it's clear in the ep that Pete himself doesn't think he's raping the girl and it always read to me more about the imbalance in the society making it so easy than Pete himself being inherently misogynist or prone to rape. A bit like Peggy's innocent complaint about her money going missing wound up getting a black employee fired. Pete's remorse seemed to show that he got that too--it wasn't just about possibly getting into trouble, it was genuine disturbance about having possibly hurt someone. So I don't at all have the problems with Pete as I do with Joan's husband in a different situation.

But if I was ever talking to MW I would honestly want to encourage him to seriously think about why the scene was interpreted (and is still seen) as rape by many people. I know they've both said they felt the problem was that the actress playing the au pair wouldn't kiss VK in the scene, but that makes me wonder if she just couldn't help but see the scene the way a lot of the audience did and played it as coercion. If so, well played, I say!
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#582

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Posted Apr 11, 2012 @ 11:30 AM

if she just couldn't help but see the scene the way a lot of the audience did and played it as coercion. If so, well played, I say!


Interesting thought.

it still shows that Pete is beneath contempt and it is no better than what Greg did.


I couldn't disagree more. But I'm going to agree to disagree if that's okay with you. I'm not saying what Pete did was right but he the story was having consensual sex. If it was the actress' choice to change the tone, I think you can't blame the character or expect MW to change future stories.

I DO agree MW either didn't appreciate what he wrote or (at least at the time) has a bias to be re-evaluated.

ETA: I think Pete has plenty of other reasons why people this he's "beneath contempt" (not me), but I think if this event is primary rationale - given the mismatch of intent versus execution - it doesn't make sense to me.

Edited by SueB, Apr 11, 2012 @ 11:52 AM.

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#583

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Posted Apr 11, 2012 @ 9:11 PM

Edited: I did a double-check of the commentary for "Souvenir." The topic comes up at about the 30-minute mark; Weiner asks the others (Kartheiser and the episode writer, Lisa Albert) what they think, and gives his own view. Weiner does ultimately say "There's no doubt in my mind that he forced the situation."

I had thought that of the three, MW's comments most suggested he felt it was rape. Listening to it again, though, I do think they're all in fundamental agreement. VK talks about the power imbalance, and how "in this country, everybody is her boss," so any such encounter is going to have the tinge of harassment. But to MW's blunt question "Do you think he rapes her?" Albert says, "I felt that she gave him permission. But I didn't feel that she wanted to be with him," and Weiner agrees.

I don't know whether that adds any nuance, but it was interesting.

Edited by Birdhee, Apr 11, 2012 @ 10:07 PM.

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#584

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Posted Apr 12, 2012 @ 10:01 AM

It seems like most people -- both the critics and the show's creators -- basically agree about what's going on in the Pete/Gudrun scenes. Gudrun felt coerced, and she wouldn't have had sex with Pete if she didn't think he was basically saying, "Do it or I'll get you in trouble." The points of contention seem to be a) whether the term "rape" applies to that sort of coercion (legally, I'm not sure it would, even today; sexual blackmail is a crime, but in many jurisdictions a different one), and b) whether Pete intended to be coercive, and whether that affects the morality of the situation at all.

Edited by Dev F, Apr 12, 2012 @ 10:03 AM.

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#585

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Posted Apr 12, 2012 @ 10:08 AM

Whatever your opinion of that scene, I think it helps we've had four seasons of Pete being a good guy and plenty of other moments to fall in love with him. For Greg, Joan's rape and the scene where he made her play the accordion are really the only chance we get to see his character. We never see another side to his personality.
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#586

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Posted Apr 12, 2012 @ 11:32 AM

I had thought that of the three, MW's comments most suggested he felt it was rape. Listening to it again, though, I do think they're all in fundamental agreement. VK talks about the power imbalance, and how "in this country, everybody is her boss," so any such encounter is going to have the tinge of harassment. But to MW's blunt question "Do you think he rapes her?" Albert says, "I felt that she gave him permission. But I didn't feel that she wanted to be with him," and Weiner agrees.


Thanks for looking that up! I was disturbed to imagine the woman writer of all people seeming to be defending it, but now that I hear that description it does make sense. And I completely understand the distinction she and others are making and agree with it. Because she does clearly give him permission. But that permission pretty clearly comes because she feels threatened if she doesn't. That, to me, was totally what the episode was going for, and what I think both characters were reacting to the next day, when she was crying all day and Pete seemed to be feeling a sort of creeping horror about it. So I'm really happy to hear what they actually said.

Whatever your opinion of that scene, I think it helps we've had four seasons of Pete being a good guy and plenty of other moments to fall in love with him. For Greg, Joan's rape and the scene where he made her play the accordion are really the only chance we get to see his character. We never see another side to his personality.


Not only that, but every time we do see Greg's character it's coming back to that same thing. It's a really driving force for him. Where as I would never describe what he did to the au pair to be the central thing that's always driving him--which is why it's believable that he'd acknowledge it by the end of the ep. The aspects of Pete's personality that came out in that ep, imo, were his privilege (to use a non 60s word) and petty resentment--we've soon both those things at work. In a situation where he had so much power, those things all too easily turned into a crime.

With Greg we see him unhappy when Joan takes the lead sexually, as if this makes him insecure, and rape her in the office. There's the ongoing conflict between who he thinks he should be and is entitled to be (loved, respected, a talented surgeon) and who he really is. His first decision to go to Vietnam was again him putting his ego first, and the second even more so, because now he was no longer reeling from a failure, just craving more respect. Insecurity over his "manliness" made worse by marrying a very competent woman he can't help but notice is having to help him out, was central to his scenes over and over.

On some level, imo, Greg hated Joan and that hostility was always right there under the surface. Pete was by contrast more of a spoiled, petulant rich boy relying on others to keep him from doing something really bad.
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#587

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Posted Apr 12, 2012 @ 12:12 PM

For Greg, Joan's rape and the scene where he made her play the accordion are really the only chance we get to see his character. We never see another side to his personality.


We do, fleetingly, in the scene in which he stitches up Joan's hand. She's clearly uncomfortable with his skill level, but he does it very efficiently; he tells her a stupid joke to distract her, and makes her laugh; and then at the end, he says, "I can't fix everything, but I can fix this." It's tainted by everything else we know about Greg and the relationship, but taken in isolation, he seems charming and caring there, and I get what she saw or wanted to see in him.

But I agree with the basic point. There is more of a range for a main character such as Pete. It's harder to bring fullness to the "satellite" characters.
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#588

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Posted Apr 12, 2012 @ 12:32 PM

Thanks Birdhee, that's the gist I remember too but having the exact words is very useful. and I agree, we were suppose to "like" Greg when he fixed Joan's hand. I wonder if MW knew then he was going to ultimately pull this re-volunteer maneuver with Greg and wanted us to see some of what Joan saw in him. Of course MW has made it clear that he doesn't have the ending planned.

I also think godonlyknows is right about level of character development.

As for Pete, I'm not going mince words, I always worry if he's going to do something stupid again (i.e. the Mohawk stunt). There's a level of unpredictability in all the main cast. Somehow Weiner manages to give them "in character" WTF moments all the time.

Edited by SueB, Apr 12, 2012 @ 12:32 PM.

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#589

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Posted Apr 13, 2012 @ 1:16 AM

Sorry, Weiner, I think Pete raped the au pair. I don't think he thinks he raped her. It didn't sit well with me when he told Trudy not to leave him alone again.

Pete has always been a little weasel to me. He's shown some growth and increased in likeability over time, but I still think he's a weasel.

On another note, I haven't seen VK in any other roles. It's amazing how un-Pete-like he looks in real life.
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#590

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Posted Apr 13, 2012 @ 6:39 AM

All the men on the show either can't or won't take responsibility for their own actions. Pete's comment to Trudy basically says " if you were here, I wouldn't have done a bad thing" , putting the blame on her shoulders. Don is a master of gas lighting and blame shifting. Roger escapes from any responsibility through booze. And so on. So far, Stan is the only one who appears to hold himself accountable for his own actions.

Edited as usual because this iPad thinks it knows spelling and grammar better than I do!

Edited by rogaine2233, Apr 13, 2012 @ 6:40 AM.

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#591

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Posted Apr 13, 2012 @ 9:21 AM

Pete not only did whatever it was he did to the au pair girl (sure looked like rape to me) he cheated on Trudy with Peggy when just back from their honeymoon, tried to blackmail Don, and (to me this was his worst moment,) tried to pimp out Trudy to get his story published. Yet he's my favorite character. I adore him warts and all and I love watching his marriage grow.

I feel like Trudy raised him from a pup with a combination of the sort of unconditional love he didn't get from his parents and some really firm guidance ("Peter did you lose your temper? Good, come straight home!") Joan is getting lots of props for "kicking Greg to the curb," but Trudy's actually making a good man out of Peter and I admire that more.
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#592

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Posted Apr 13, 2012 @ 9:38 AM

Perhaps surprisingly, Trudy had better raw material to work with than Joan did. ;-)
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#593

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Posted Apr 13, 2012 @ 9:46 AM

I do love Pete showing the potential for growth via Trudy. It's funny that when the show started it seemed like Pete/Peggy would be more of a romance but that would be such a trainwreck. Pete really needs a more traditional wife like Trudy. She's clearly capable of many things, and if she were living today she'd no doubt have a good career of her own. But part of the reason their marriage works is because it's all about Pete (or was--that's why the birth of Tammy seems like it could be a risk).

Pete's clearly learned some good lessons about gratefulness with Trudy. He has come to appreciate her and not take her for granted. But it's like JudyObscure said about Trudy raising him from a pup. She takes care of him. And those kinds of marriages often do work. Given all the terrible unequal relationships we see that follow the "man of the house" example, it's really interesting the way we see one that's positive. Not a lot of women would want to take on Trudy's role--I wouldn't, but they're still my favorite marriage on the show. Sometimes I like to picture them walking around NYC today (they've moved back, of course), an adorable elderly but sprightly couple going to shows and taking classes together. This is the reality in my head.
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#594

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Posted Apr 13, 2012 @ 11:10 AM

I think it helps that Pete had a realization about Trudy and her value. It started out with him sort of marrying the woman he was expected to marry but not committed in his heart, and then having the epiphany that he lucked out. I don't think he knew and understood her til they were married and then it was - holy shit, I won the spouse lottery here! You know it's exactly the type of wife he'd want - unconditional support, someone who takes him seriously and listens to him - and he got it. The best part is Trudy is intelligent, educated, savvy about society and business and human nature, so no matter what Pete said on the train she DOES understand his world. I appreciate that Peter appreciates her and shares what's going on - unlike the other husbands. Everything from his issues with her dad to his writing to the au pair to his feelings about Kennedy's assasination.
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#595

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Posted Apr 13, 2012 @ 1:05 PM

so no matter what Pete said on the train she DOES understand his world.

I was disappointed he said that.

But Pete did say "you're getting the wrong impression" when Howard implied coming home later after Pete talked about Trudy getting back to herself.

I looked at the exchange again:
Howard indicated he and his wife had had a fight and he 'jumped in the car and drove... put my fist through a wall'

then he goes on:
Howard: "Maybe she's right, maybe I am a little selfish. I said I needed time alone with my thoughts, she asked me what I did at work all day."
Pete: "They don't understand."
Howard: "Who am I kidding, There's nothing a little peace wouldn't fix."

So, what is it "they" don't understand? Trudy understands the office but maybe it's the added pressure of commuter life and no time to decompress. Maybe the pace of work is harder? Although I would think the train would help, it's not 'alone time'.

I would say Pete's life is harder in the suburbs than in the city. Trudy and Tammy are okay but his day is longer and total time away from the world and at home is more. Maybe that's what Trudy is not appreciating.

As someone who work travels I can say that it's okay for a while but even if you get rest at a hotel, it's just not the same as rest at home. I know when I'm overwhelmed a bit with work, even though I can't wait to get home, I do need some alone time to decompress no matter how much I love them.
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#596

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Posted Apr 13, 2012 @ 1:12 PM

So, what is it "they" don't understand? Trudy understands the office but maybe it's the added pressure of commuter life and no time to decompress. Maybe the pace of work is harder? Although I would think the train would help, it's not 'alone time'.


Well, that's pretty classic to this day. If you're the spouse that works full time and travels etc. and the other spouse does not work outside the home or just for a few hours, the one who stays home often envies the one who goes to work and imagines what it's like not to be interrupted by kids, or to stay in a hotel and have someone clean up after you. The one who works full time or in a high powered job might think that the stay at home spouse has more freedom, doesn't have to answer to 'the man,' and may have very unrealistic ideas about what the SAH spouse does all day. Either may envy the other at times, without necessarily wanting to give up what they do.

So to me, when Pete says "They don't understand" it's kind of a given to me that he and his fellow commuter don't really understand, either.
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#597

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Posted Apr 13, 2012 @ 4:32 PM

So to me, when Pete says "They don't understand" it's kind of a given to me that he and his fellow commuter don't really understand, either.


Amen! Sorry, I've played both roles. I know exactly what you're saying.
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#598

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Posted Apr 13, 2012 @ 10:25 PM

I think the point is further underlined when Pete comes home from work very late, and Trudy still has to "be at work" by feeding Tammy through the night. Pete may have worked a long day but Trudy never stops working.

That scene was also really neat for me because it showed how someone my grandparents' age might not have been happy with or 100% sure with their decision to live in their house in the suburbs. I just imagine Pete and Trudy's grandchildren visiting them never knowing Pete didn't want to leave the city. At least in my family, that kind of stuff is never talked about.

Edited by LeDucDiableBleu, Apr 13, 2012 @ 10:37 PM.

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#599

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Posted Apr 14, 2012 @ 3:17 PM

I really hate Pete in the suburbs - he just doesn't fit.

Watching earlier episodes today, it struck me how often Pete is basically mimicking behaviour. When he's not quite sure what to do (trying to be matey with Don in the first episode, trying it on with the girl at his stag night) he basically gives a performance of what he's seen other people do in that situation. The problem is, though, it's not natural to him, and so he gets it wrong. He tries too hard, or is overly familiar, or is overly aggressive. And then you have the moment afterwards where he knows that he's messed up. There's this underlying awareness with him that he doesn't fit.

I don't know if we've seen that as much with Pete in more recent episodes. I can't decide whether he's supposed to have developed better people skills, or we're just not seeing as much of him.
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Posted Apr 14, 2012 @ 3:24 PM

In a Vincent Kartheiser Rolling Stones interview he says Pete has grown and changed, especially in S3 and S4. I think that's true. Personally I think Trudy made all the difference in the world.
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