"Mad Men's" Pete Campbell, an executive as ruthless as they come

When you think about the runaway success of “Mad Men” it’s really kind of remarkable given that we live in an age where being a corporate suit — a description that fits just about everyone on the show — is tantamount to being a criminal.

Weren’t those Occupy Wall Street protests last summer and fall really about fat cats like Don Draper who lives in a fabulously decorated expensive Manhattan with his second trophy wife? I mean, not for nothing, but this is a show that celebrates the 1%. Of course, it’s the benefit of time that saves it. If it were set in present day instead of the ’60s, it would have been cancelled long ago.

I was thinking about this after Don Draper’s angry rant to a corporate executive in last week’s show when he says, “You have 50% of the market and you think that’s good? I won’t be happy until I have 100%.” That’s just before he storms out, leaving a cadre of shaken fellow fat cats in his wake. I mean, jeez, Don take a chill pill.

Just try to imagine that scene playing out in present day. Viewers would have thought Don was a soulless advertising executive who cared more about peddling bogus products than giving the consumer a decent shake.

And it’s not only Don. Is there a more ruthless and shameless executive on television than Pete Campbell? I know a lot of the show’s fans admire Pete even after he had the chutzpah to a buxom office manager to sleep with a client so the agency could secure the account. “Well,” they say, “He did what he had to, to keep the company afloat.”

Even old warhorse Bert Cooper sides with Pete, saying “You just can’t put a price on a car company.”

These guys are as ruthless as they come. They’re corporate fat cats who peddle nonsense and still we admire them. What does that say about us? Are we such suckers for the ’60s?

 

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