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Pete Campbell: The Black Sheep of the Mad Men


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#601

Jenn

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Posted Apr 14, 2012 @ 3:48 PM

Thanks for the link - hadn't seen that before.

I agree that Trudy is vital for Pete - if anything were to go wrong in his marriage I think Pete would start to steer wildly off course.

I thought it was interesting when he talked about Pete getting frustrated at doing the right thing, but not getting the right responses from people. For me, that's sort of an extension of Pete's old social confusion.
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#602

Blue32

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Posted Apr 14, 2012 @ 4:03 PM

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.

Yup. Peggy does the same thing: she mimics behaviour and tries on different identities and personas to see if they fit. At the end of "Maidenform," Pete shoots dolled-up, feminine, flirtatious Peggy a knowing, reproving look, which seems to say "I know you, and this is not you." The reason he recognizes what she's doing, of course, is that he does the same thing all the time. Of course, he usually tries to model one specific type--Don Draper, or his idea of what Don Draper represents (charming, savvy, dominant, successful Alpha male god)--with middling results.

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.

What strikes me about Pete is that he seems so profoundly uncomfortable, like he's thisclose to crawling out of his own skin and even the most harmless of interactions with others are difficult for him. Even when he's "on" and performing adequately in social settings--meaning he's not pissing off everyone around him--it seems mannered and forced, like he's acting, and his body language is stilted. Contrasted with someone like Ken, who's truly comfortable with himself, who's honest, genuine, and charming in a low-key way (and who seems to have swallowed Pete lording it over him with no lingering malice), it really sticks out. An underlying awareness of his "otherness" (I know, I know, privileged white dudes are pretty much the opposite of "the other") and, well, what a shit he can be, could explain that. There's very, very little that's authentic about Pete, as much as he seems to have no tact and less charm, but he does show glimmers of awareness of being messed up--"You must think I'm a creep," "I'd never heard [that I'm good with people] before," "Like Bud and I turned out so great," "Don't go away without me" (to Trudy), etc.--and of knowing that he doesn't fit in.

Peggy has that great line in Season 3 about Pete infecting her with his anxiety. It's not just anxiety, though; it seems to be a broader dissatisfaction with everything. Part of that is his ambition, but it seems broader than that. Even though things are going well for him, it's not enough; he wants more, but he's not quite sure what the "more" is. I don't even know if he could give the "more" a name if he could. It's interesting that he seems to be where Don was at the beginning of Season 1: house, kid, loving wife, success at work (he's even ahead of where Don was, since he's happy in his marriage), but the pieces aren't quite coming together. There was that line of Joan's from Season 1, "Sometimes, when you get what you want, you realize how limited your goals were." It might equally apply to Pete.

Edited by Blue32, Apr 14, 2012 @ 6:28 PM.

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#603

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Posted Apr 14, 2012 @ 5:11 PM

What strikes me about Pete is that he seems so profoundly uncomfortable, like he's thisclose to crawling out of his own skin and even the most harmless of interactions with others are difficult for him. Even when he's "on" and performing adequately in social settings--meaning he's not pissing off everyone around him--it seems mannered and forced, like he's acting, and his body language is stilted. Contrasted with someone like Ken, who's truly comfortable with himself, who's honest, genuine, and charming in a low-key way (and who seems to have swallowed Pete lording it over him with no lingering malice), it really sticks out. An underlying awareness of his "otherness" (I know, I know, privileged white dudes are pretty much the opposite of "the other") and, well, what a shit he can be, could explain that. There's very, very little that's authentic about Pete, as much as he seems to have no tact and less charm, but he does show glimmers of awareness of being messed up--"You must think I'm a creep," "I'd never heard [that I'm good with people] before," "Like Burt and I turned out so great," "Don't go away without me" (to Trudy), etc.--and of knowing that he doesn't fit in.


I LOVE this analysis. It's so spot on. He's like Don in that he's playing something he's not. He's just wretched at it. Even in "A Little Kiss", look at his face as he sips the martini. He's gauging the reaction of the Mohawk boys as he's beginning the conversation. He's still not Roger in the wooing department.

Someone asked a question about the first episode of the series so I let it play in the background while paying bills today. My goodness but your comments are so on the mark. He is so uncomfortable in everything he's doing. And yet he is driven to go seek out Peggy. I wonder why.

And Peggy does do the same exact thing that first episode. She's soaking up everthing Joan says with a sponge. And she lets Pete in. I think in this case her squeaky "Me?" shows exactly how flattered she is by his attention. But then she boldly takes his hand and pulls him in. That scene to me said so much about Peggy -- and surprised the hell out of me.

Peggy has that great line in Season 3 about Pete infecting her with his anxiety.


One of my favorite Pete and Peggy moments. They have this dueling asynchronous conversation that makes total sense and shows them to be two peas in a pod at that stage in their lives. It's not romantic it's just very natural. Which is something they never really are in so many situations.

I also see him completely at ease with Trudy, which is nice. The first moment I recognized it was his petulant "why can't I get anything good all at once" EP 3.1). Then later in the year, when he was eating right out of the bowl after finding out Kenny got the job. He was in full-"ME" mode there, completely unguarded. Those are the moments you feel like they've resolved the bulk of the marital power play (unlike Don and Megan or Don and Betty).
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#604

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Posted Apr 16, 2012 @ 1:35 AM

From the episode thread:

[VK will] continue to be criminally underrated BECAUSE he's willing to play unlikeable qualities. He's also willing to let Matt Weiner shave his hairline and make him look less attractive. He's an unusual actor, and I think people dislike the character so he won't be getting awards. Pity.


Up for a weird parallel? Vincent/Pete is the show's Jason Alexander/George Costanza. It is startling that JA never won an Emmy for playing George, while Michael Richards won three for Kramer. Both characters were annoying in their fashion, but Kramer was "cool"; George wasn't. You wouldn't want to hang out with George, and if you saw any of yourself in him, it probably made you uncomfortable. But in hindsight, wasn't Alexander's George the greater achievement and the gutsier performance? Richards got to play a boundlessly confident hipster doofus from start to finish. Alexander started out as an unattractive loser and spent nine seasons going farther and farther toward the bleakest outer limits of loserdom.

I feel the same about Kartheiser's Pete vis-a-vis Slattery's Roger. At least in nominations, Slattery has been the magnet for supporting-actor awards. Roger is as pathetic a human being in his way as Pete is, but like Kramer, he is fun to have around. He's debonair and witty and he's always good for a quotable quip, he does well with women, and people love the character in spite of themselves. Pete is much harder to love, as his character deficits don't come in a bright wrapping of rakish charm.
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#605

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Posted Apr 16, 2012 @ 7:30 AM

Absolutely, VK has been criminally underrated from the beginning and I can only put it down to a kind of life imitating art. Pete doesn't get recognition for not being as outwardly charming or cool to like as others, and VK doesn't for playing him. I think many people refuse to engage with Pete as a character because he isn't bound up in such a charming package, his flaws tumble out at the worst moments and anything bad happening brings out the worst in him. He reflects that impulsively jealous, "life is so unfair!" side that I think we all don't want to admit we have at times, whether or not we can master them in a way Pete can't.

That was such a painful Pete episode, both in cringe terms (his unmasked glee at Don coming to his home, the scenes with the teenage girl) and in how painfully sad he is. He gave off such an aching sense of displacement, loneliness and insecurity throughout, I'm always sympathetic to Pete as a character but I don't think I've felt quite so wretched for him since season one.

He has "everything" yet when Don fixed the tap or Handsome wafted in and stole the girl's attention without even trying to, you could see how the confidence Pete's been constructing and presenting can crumble in an instant, because underneath it's never been there at heart. It's like no amount of fawning or support from Trudy can save him from his misery because, like in Ken's story, he's "soulsick" for something else, and he doesn't even know what, only that what he does have, and what was supposed to give him happiness, respect and self worth, has failed to. He has Don's life, he's done everything right in that sense, but it feels completely hollow, he still thinks Don has some answer to the mystery of how to be, that he himself is being denied.

The episode's added fuel to the "someone's gonna die/commit suicide" theories, and to be honest I am now quite worried about Pete. My only hope is that he's far too important to the show and too great a character to lose. I can't stomach the idea, I love him too much!

What do you guys think?

Edited by Nyoko, Apr 16, 2012 @ 7:34 AM.

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#606

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Posted Apr 16, 2012 @ 10:23 AM

I certainly don't want to lose Pete if the show is going on for another season. But they could get a lot of drama out of a failed suicide attempt that had to be hushed up or passed off as an accident.
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#607

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Posted Apr 16, 2012 @ 10:58 AM

That was such a painful Pete episode, both in cringe terms (his unmasked glee at Don coming to his home, the scenes with the teenage girl) and in how painfully sad he is. He gave off such an aching sense of displacement, loneliness and insecurity throughout, I'm always sympathetic to Pete as a character but I don't think I've felt quite so wretched for him since season one.


God, me too. He makes my heart hurt. This episode made me realize he's possibly my favorite character. I've always liked it whenever he showed up.

I, too, thought of a possible failed suicide attempt for Pete. I wouldn't want him to succeed, but I could see it getting covered up. I completely bought him last night as the hollow person with a gaping need--perfect contrast to Ken who was always okay with himself. If you're okay with yourself the job can't touch you--Roger's advice that when it's working right the job gives you "everything" you could want was completely wrong.

VK is criminally underrated on this show.
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#608

Nyoko

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Posted Apr 16, 2012 @ 11:26 AM

He's my favourite too, my heart still hurts right now! I feel haunted by Pete's arc last night, especially the final scene with the drip, drip of the tap coming back again.

In the Inside 505 featurette Weiner was saying how he hopes viewers feel for Pete by the end of the episode because he feels a pain and heartsickness for the expectations of what life is. To me that really sums up how, no matter what he tries, for Pete life is always an eternal mystery that frustrates him and leaves him in the dark. Yet, he looks around him and thinks other people have a better clue than he does. Like when he told Peggy "everything's so easy for you", I think he genuinely thinks other people find life easier than he does (and, I suppose in many ways a lot of the other characters do, by virtue of being better at rebounding from bad luck or getting over things, or social interaction!), and doesn't understand why he can't 'get it'. His expectations never meet the reality, but because he bases so many of his expectations on what he perceives others to have, he thinks their reality better matches what they want, and that it's completely unfair and unjust.

I'm going to cling to this failed suicide idea because that gives me hope! It seems so overt a direction at the moment (then again, we're only at episode 5 and a week ago I'd been been thinking the same for Roger) which also gives me hope that since it seems so clearly foreboding there must be something more complex planned. I just can't imagine 2 whole seasons after this without Pete being a thorn in so many sides. He's a foil to so many characters, they'd lose an awful lot if they wrote him out.

Maybe Don, since he seemed at least vaguely concerned in the way he kept looking at Pete (and his failure to compose himself enough not to cry) in the elevator, will end up helping him? The suicide references make me think of Don's brother, but Don's so compartmentalised and so intent on distancing himself from people, maybe not.

Then again, if Ken's noticed Pete's pain, maybe someone else will?

Edited by Nyoko, Apr 16, 2012 @ 11:30 AM.

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#609

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Posted Apr 16, 2012 @ 12:48 PM

Then again, if Ken's noticed Pete's pain, maybe someone else will?


As I think I said in the ep thread, if Ken noticed Pete's pain he just used it to gain sympathy for his fictional character rather than reaching out to Pete or giving a heads-up to Trudy. Every man for himself.
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#610

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Posted Apr 16, 2012 @ 12:49 PM

Slate has an interview with Vincent Kartheiser today:

Kartheiser: With success comes a level of sadness. You think, “I’ll reach this goal, and then I’ll feel a sense of completeness, of wholeness. I’ll feel that I have accomplished something. I will see myself as a worthy man.” And it doesn’t really exist.

He also has the weight of this entire agency on his shoulders, and he doesn’t feel like he’s getting any respect for that. I think that a bigger man would handle that better. Pete becomes pouty and kind of aggressive. He tries to show off and make people respect him, and that’s not possible.


Lots more interesting stuff, though VK does go on to say he's not nearly as insightful about the show as many people who watch and write about it. ;-)
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#611

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Posted Apr 16, 2012 @ 12:50 PM

I, too, thought of a possible failed suicide attempt for Pete.


While timewise it's probably a little too early (wait a year or two), I wondered, given how uncomfortable Pete is and how meaningless he sees his existence, whether he's a candidate to break out of the Madison Ave. mold and end up on a commune, drop out, etc.
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#612

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Posted Apr 16, 2012 @ 1:36 PM

While timewise it's probably a little too early (wait a year or two), I wondered, given how uncomfortable Pete is and how meaningless he sees his existence, whether he's a candidate to break out of the Madison Ave. mold and end up on a commune, drop out, etc.

So go hobo? It would be kinda funny if Pete ended the series with a different name.
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#613

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Posted Apr 16, 2012 @ 2:42 PM

He's my favourite too, my heart still hurts right now! I feel haunted by Pete's arc last night, especially the final scene with the drip, drip of the tap coming back again.


Me too. Still. And it's been nearly a day. I read that interview this morning. Think about it. The guy from Slate talked to VK after 11pm Pacific time and had it up by 8:30am Eastern Time. He must have been up all night. Good scoop.

And although I've read enough interviews to know VK can be a goof-ball, he's totally understating his understanding of the show. You can't get the subtleties to play Pete so right and not appreciate the rest of the characters. His DVD commentary gives that away too.

Edited by SueB, Apr 16, 2012 @ 2:43 PM.

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#614

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Posted Apr 16, 2012 @ 3:19 PM

Up for a weird parallel? Vincent/Pete is the show's Jason Alexander/George Costanza. It is startling that JA never won an Emmy for playing George,

Significant difference...Jason was nominated, something that's never happened to Vincent (and has to the other major actors)
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#615

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Posted Apr 16, 2012 @ 3:26 PM

I'm not surprised Pete did what he did and I can understand why he'd do it but it doesn't stop me being disappointed with him.

When he was curled up on the couch when Trudy was heavily pregnant in that pink nightie and he reassured him "it's nothing like that" when she thought he might be having another affair, I really thought he'd turned over a new leaf and was, at least in that moment, perfectly content with his home life.

I don't think Trudy realised just how much Pete hates the suburbs. I think she feels that he's simply moaning because that's what he does and she thinks that at some point he'll realise she's right and fully appreciate what he's got. Trudy really makes Pete a better person but I don't know how much more crap she'll take from him before either a) she leaves him (which I doubt she'd ever do) or b) I lose respect for her for not leaving.

Kudos to Vincent Kartheiser and his acting chops. I loved Pete before this episode but I was so angry with him when he followed the prostitute into the bedroom that I really felt that that was it, I was going to hate Pete forever, but then he goes and starts crying in the elevator and I start feeling sympathy towards him again. What's wrong with me? I don't think I've had such an emotional see-saw as violent as this for any one character before.

Pete's talked a lot about gophers this season. My mind is already constructing a weird gopher-based accident which leaves Pete with a receding hair line, a renewed love for Trudy and the inability to cheat ever again.
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#616

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Posted Apr 16, 2012 @ 4:21 PM

I don't think Trudy realised just how much Pete hates the suburbs. I think she feels that he's simply moaning because that's what he does and she thinks that at some point he'll realise she's right and fully appreciate what he's got.



Matt Weiner said that Allison Brie perfectly captures Trudy's "Of course, you silly thing, that's how it's suppose to be" attitude. She does it with Don and wins and she does it with Pete and usually wins. She lost out on the adoption thing but then won on the house. Personally, the way Pete was so proud looking of little Tammy, I think he's going to be a complete pushover someday for HIS little jelly bean.

It bums me out that Allison Brie's time was limited this year because I'd really like to see her help Pete through this.

As for the prostitute, I was like "Nooooooo!" but when he was so lifeless with her, I don't know how to explain this but it didn't really feel like he enjoyed himself. I honestly think he's not going to cat around anymore. That was a hollow experience and he knows it IMO.

Pete needs to get more of a life outside the office if he's going to be happy. Something that is just for Pete or Pete & Trudy. Not the BBQ or the kids activities. Before he was Manhattan-Man. He needs something more than work/eat/sleep. Good for Pete, bad for SCDP.
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#617

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Posted Apr 16, 2012 @ 6:50 PM

VK's acting was incredible. There was so much that was so good--so good!--but my favourite bit was his fear and panic after Lane hit him the first few times. You could see his instant realization that he was outmatched and his terror, as well as his efforts to conceal it. A+++.

After last night's episodes of Mad Men and Game of Thrones, I've seen several commenters--even Maureen Ryan at the Huffington Post--observe that Pete Campbell and Theon Greyjoy are more or less the same person, and even though I'm a fan of both series, I'd never realized how true that was.

What's wrong with me? I don't think I've had such an emotional see-saw as violent as this for any one character before.

I'm right there with you. His predatory pursuit of yet another woman in a subordinate/lesser position (like Peggy the secretary in Season 1 and Gudrun the au pair in Season 3) had me wishing I could reach through the screen and strangle him, yet his desolation and confusion in the elevator had me wishing I could reach through the screen and give him a hug. It's very confusing.

It makes sense to me that Pete and Trudy's marriage is in deep trouble. Aside from the strain to the marriage caused by the move to the suburbs and the baby (as significant upheaval can disrupt even the healthiest marriage), I gotta be honest: Pete and Trudy's relatively healthy marriage in Season 3 and Season 4 never really rang true to me. Trudy's forcible good humour, as admirable as it is, would be pretty wearying after a while to someone like Pete, I think. There's sunny optimism and spousal love and then there's unrelenting cheeriness to the point of denial and crushing devotion to someone who struggles under the weight of his self-loathing. I don't know if it's Allison Brie's performance, but there's something very forced or artificial about Trudy...not consciously artificial, though. It's like that description of Holly Golightly: "she's a phony, but she's a real phony." Someone like Pete, who seems to feel hollow inside and who has trouble relating authentically to people, might react negatively against that after a while. On top of that, all of Trudy's acknowledged awesomeness (beautiful, capable, socially savvy hostess/devoted wife extraordinaire) is its own kind of burden. How dare Pete feel anything other happiness with such an awesome wife, you know? Don's reproach about Pete throwing away his marriage Trudy by cheating is our reproach, but it's almost like Trudy's awesomeness cuts off at the pass any possible reason Pete might have to feel ennui in his marriage.

(Not that that's in any way an excuse for Pete's abominable behaviour, but their marital problems don't surprise me.)

Edited by Blue32, Apr 16, 2012 @ 8:18 PM.

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#618

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Posted Apr 16, 2012 @ 7:05 PM

It seems to make sense to me that Pete and Trudy's marriage is in deep trouble. Aside from the strain to the marriage caused by the move to the suburb and the baby (as significant upheaval can disrupt even the healthiest marriage), I gotta be honest: Pete and Trudy's relatively healthy marriage in Season 3 and Season 4 never really rang true to me. Trudy's forcible good humour, as admirable as it is, would be pretty wearying after a while to someone like Pete, I think. There's sunny optimism and then there's unrelenting, crushing cheeriness.

I don't think she's a stepford wife though. She was there for him during his father's death in a very real way, got angry as he did during Kennedy's assassination, and has gotten angry and confronted him a couple times over the course of the series. I agree that she's not good for him, but I think there's very little Trudy could do. Maybe move back to the city, but Pete would probably have problems after that too.

I'm right there with you. His predatory pursuit of yet another woman in a subordinate/lesser position (like Peggy the secretary in Season 1 and Gudrun the au pair in Season 3) had me wishing I could reach through the screen and strangle him, yet his desolation and confusion in the elevator had me wishing I could reach through the screen and give him a hug. It's very confusing.

From Couch Baron's recap in season three:

He's the only character that simultaneously brings out the best and worst in me.


.

Edited by jr352, Apr 16, 2012 @ 7:16 PM.

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#619

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Posted Apr 17, 2012 @ 6:01 AM

I'm surprised by how many people think Pete is headed out the window, or ready to do something foolish with the rifle. I personally think he might be the first of the guys to head for the analyst's couch; he's just progressive enough to consider it. Ideally, he could finally speak his mind without being judged, figure out what he really wants, and get some insight into why he rubs people the wrong way. His marriage might not survive the scrutiny, though, and being Pete he would probably bore people to death with his new insights.
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#620

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Posted Apr 17, 2012 @ 8:35 AM

Pete's talked a lot about gophers this season. My mind is already constructing a weird gopher-based accident which leaves Pete with a receding hair line, a renewed love for Trudy and the inability to cheat ever again.


And he can use the gopher for a toupée.
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#621

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Posted Apr 17, 2012 @ 9:32 AM

...Trudy's acknowledged awesomeness (beautiful, capable, socially savvy hostess/devoted wife extraordinaire)...Blue 32

I was thinking about Trudy in comparison with Betty. Remember when Betty threw that dinner party with the international twist in A Night to Remember? Granted, Betty's party included more guests, but Trudy seemed so much more at ease with the menu, serving, and general pace of the evening. And the fact that Trudy chuckled at the misfiring kitchen faucet and juggled Tammy's interruption with a minimum of fuss- now I get a feeling for why Don saw Pete as having it all.

Edited by Decormaven, Apr 17, 2012 @ 9:33 AM.

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#622

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Posted Apr 17, 2012 @ 11:43 AM

After last night's episodes of Mad Men and Game of Thrones, I've seen several commenters--even Maureen Ryan at the Huffington Post--observe that Pete Campbell and Theon Greyjoy are more or less the same person, and even though I'm a fan of both series, I'd never realized how true that was.


So sad and in their own heads all the time. At least Pete isn't fondling his sister, though.
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#623

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Posted Apr 17, 2012 @ 12:22 PM

I was thinking about Trudy in comparison with Betty. Remember when Betty threw that dinner party with the international twist in A Night to Remember? Granted, Betty's party included more guests, but Trudy seemed so much more at ease with the menu, serving, and general pace of the evening. And the fact that Trudy chuckled at the misfiring kitchen faucet and juggled Tammy's interruption with a minimum of fuss- now I get a feeling for why Don saw Pete as having it all.


The main difference between Trudy and Betty and their domestic endeavors is that Trudy seems to be happy doing what she's doing, and Betty never really did. I think that's part of what Don responded to, in fact, with Trudy. Not only is Trudy smart and persistent in getting around Don's avoidance maneuvers, but seems content in her role in a way that Betty did (does) not.
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#624

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Posted Apr 17, 2012 @ 12:40 PM

The main difference between Trudy and Betty and their domestic endeavors is that Trudy seems to be happy doing what she's doing, and Betty never really did. I think that's part of what Don responded to, in fact, with Trudy. Not only is Trudy smart and persistent in getting around Don's avoidance maneuvers, but seems content in her role in a way that Betty did (does) not.


Of course, a big reason why Betty was so unhappy that evening was that she was shut out and felt humiliated when they all laughed at her around the world meal. Betty didn't understand why it was funny when she included Heinekin beer just like Don said "any housewife" would, it just felt like a joke on her.

Pete, for all his current problems, appreciates Trudy's social skills and thinks they're valuable. And in this ep it was him who wound up being laughed at and humiliated. Pete and Betty have some important things in common, and getting the reactions they want or think they've earned is one of them.
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#625

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Posted Apr 17, 2012 @ 1:19 PM

After last night's episodes of Mad Men and Game of Thrones, I've seen several commenters--even Maureen Ryan at the Huffington Post--observe that Pete Campbell and Theon Greyjoy are more or less the same person, and even though I'm a fan of both series, I'd never realized how true that was.



So sad and in their own heads all the time. At least Pete isn't fondling his sister, though.


They really both are tragic douchebags. Not terribly likeable, but infinitely compelling.

Pete and Betty have some important things in common, and getting the reactions they want or think they've earned is one of them.


I think Weiner has done a lot to link Pete and Betty even though I'm not sure they ever shared a scene together. They are both privileged adults who seem to have it all, but neither one really knows how to be a functioning grown-up. I can think of at least three episodes ("New Amsterdam," "The Inheritance," and "Souvenir") where they were each featured in parallel main stories.

New Amsterdam: Pete and Betty each cross a line their not supposed to (Pete selling that Bethlehem steel guy a new ad idea, Betty and the lock of hair for Glen) in attempts to feel good about themselves.

The Inheritance: Pete and Betty each have difficult confrontations with parents, deal with the legacies left behind.

Souvenir: Pete and Betty each take a vacation from their "real lives," profoundly changing their relationships with their spouses.
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#626

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Posted Apr 17, 2012 @ 2:41 PM

And the fact that Trudy chuckled at the misfiring kitchen faucet and juggled Tammy's interruption with a minimum of fuss- now I get a feeling for why Don saw Pete as having it all.


That ease is what drew him to Megan too. The kids spilled the milkshakes and she handled it with Trudy aplomb.
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#627

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Posted Apr 17, 2012 @ 5:43 PM

From the Signal 30 thread:

Oh wait, this is Pete. He'd be talking to other agencies about getting a job someplace else and taking all of his accounts with him. Then he could tell everyone everyone that conditions at SCDP were so desperate that accounts meetings are erupting into schoolyard brawls. And his former mentor Don Draper is actually Dick Whitman who deserted from the army.

But that would screw up the storyline, wouldn't it?

Pete's 3-year contract should be up in Decemeber 1966, right? His conversation with the other train-rider (about the in-ground pool) suggested Pete is looking for better terms in his contract renewal ("full" partnership, with a greater percentage ownership? Plus name in title?). Some of the initial draw for the accounts he brought along to SCDP has to have been Don's presence as Creative Director, but if Don continues this ennui about work, Pete could make the case to his clients that they're better off with Ted Chaough. Wonder if we'll see that character this season...
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#628

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Posted Apr 17, 2012 @ 6:23 PM

That was such a painful Pete episode, both in cringe terms (his unmasked glee at Don coming to his home, the scenes with the teenage girl) and in how painfully sad he is. He gave off such an aching sense of displacement, loneliness and insecurity throughout, I'm always sympathetic to Pete as a character but I don't think I've felt quite so wretched for him since season one.


I watched it and thought, wow - Pete hasn't grown at all since season one. And I was starting to think he had, especially in terms of his marriage - but apparently not. So many old issues came up: his attraction to 'innocent' girls, his need for Don's approval, his ambition, his lack of social skills, his feeling emasculated, etc.

It was fabulously well-acted though. There's something achingly, horribly wrong with Pete - and I don't know if even he knows what it is. He has tiny moments of contentment, but they're very fragile, and only when one of his psychological needs are met - Don grants him approval, the girl in class talks to him, etc.

I can really see him spiralling this season.
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#629

Dev F

Dev F

    Fanatic

Posted Apr 18, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

I watched it and thought, wow - Pete hasn't grown at all since season one. And I was starting to think he had, especially in terms of his marriage - but apparently not. So many old issues came up: his attraction to 'innocent' girls, his need for Don's approval, his ambition, his lack of social skills, his feeling emasculated, etc.

Yeah, it's interesting . . . I always get frustrated when people quote things a character said three or four seasons ago as evidence of how they're feeling now, since many of them have changed so much since then. But it took this episode for me to realize that Pete hasn't really changed fundamentally since season 1.

While characters such as Don, Joan, or Peggy have had an evolving set of personal desires and psychological needs, Pete seems to want and need to same things he did when we first met him -- to be "genuine," unencumbered by the arbitrary demands and suffocating compartmentalization of society; to be validated as human being and a man. If he's grown as a person since then, it not because he's overcome those hang-ups but because he's discovered new and less loathsome ways to satisfy them -- coming to see Peggy as a model for genuine living in season 2, and then realizing that his job and his wife could provide him with validation in seasons 3 and 4.

But because the needs themselves never changed, what happens when married life starts to seem like an arbitrary obligation again? When the daily commute from and to the country makes him feel like he's back to shoving himself into different boxes? It's like the dripping faucet: He thought he fixed it, but whatever he did had no effect on the fundamental problem. And when the pressure on the valve is too much, he erupts.

Edited by Dev F, Apr 18, 2012 @ 2:06 AM.

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#630

SueB

SueB

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Posted Apr 18, 2012 @ 7:45 AM

Yeah, it's interesting . . . I always get frustrated when people quote things a character said three or four seasons ago as evidence of how they're feeling now, since many of them have changed so much since then. But it took this episode for me to realize that Pete hasn't really changed fundamentally since season 1.

While characters such as Don, Joan, or Peggy have had an evolving set of personal desires and psychological needs, Pete seems to want and need to same things he did when we first met him -- to be "genuine," unencumbered by the arbitrary demands and suffocating compartmentalization of society; to be validated as human being and a man. If he's grown as a person since then, it not because he's overcome those hang-ups but because he's discovered new and less loathsome ways to satisfy them -- coming to see Peggy as a model for genuine living in season 2, and then realizing that his job and his wife could provide him with validation in seasons 3 and 4.

But because the needs themselves never changed, what happens when married life starts to seem like an arbitrary obligation again? When the daily commute from and to the country makes him feel like he's back to shoving himself into different boxes? It's like the dripping faucet: He thought he fixed it, but whatever he did had no effect on the fundamental problem. And when the pressure on the valve is too much, he erupts.


I think you've hit the nail on the head with regard to it's a fundamental problem that he hasn't fixed but I would argue that Pete actually HAS changed a tremendous amount since S1. I would almost liken "Signal 30" as a wake-up call to Pete that he has issues to be resolved that he thought he overcame. His specific behavior was a regression to the past but more like an echo for some elements.

Differences:
- S1 Pete wouldn't have cried in the elevator because S1 Pete wouldn't have felt the loss of perceived friendship so deep in his soul.
- S1 Pete would have really had a good time at the brothel. He wouldn't have needed "Nope. Nope. Okay." He also would have blamed Trudy for his failure to be faithful. I think he knows this one was all on him.
- S1 Pete wouldn't have actually said such mean public comments to someone he felt superior to (Lane). The bite in those remarks to Lane was beyond mean. His meanest comment in S1 was "I don't like you like this anymore." (to Peggy) and his evil gossip in the first episode. S1 Pete was frat boy humor, his S5 comments to Lane were knife wounds.
- Finally, S1 Pete was not nearly as competent at his job.

IMO what happened to Pete was that he WAS feeling contentment and thought he had a "solution". He experienced a more comfortable period in his life than he ever had before. His also thought he had "arrived" and was untouchable like Roger was. But when his ego started taking hits, he regressed back to wounded, entitled child. His responses though were both more damaging and more hollow. He IS balanced on the knife edge right now. He either falls completely into despair and settles in as the hated man of the office, continuing to scrap for power, or he'll pull back and think on it a bit. If he ignores the events of "Signal 30" I do think he'll blow. If his character has actually grown, he'll try a different approach. I think we won't know for a few episodes.

IA with others, this guy is clinically depressed. He was functioning reasonably well by S4 because he had externally driven self-esteem. Even though that was eroding, he was still coasting on past success and business success for a while but like Wiley Coyote when he finally looks down, he sees he sees his true situation and "splat".*

Another analogy: when young children make progress they often regress a bit before moving forward. Pete was making work progress and regressed back to entitled arrogance. He got spanked mighty hard this episode. If he doesn't explode, he's more likely to get much better.

Bottom Line: S1 Pete was not capable of seeing what was wrong and blamed everyone else. I think S5 Pete knows the problem lies in the guy in the mirror. If he can overcome in inner hurt (no guarantees there!), he'll be able to continue to improve.

JMO YMMV.

*I've always been a fan of Bugs Bunny physics.

Edited by SueB, Apr 18, 2012 @ 7:55 AM.

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