Vincent Kartheiser believes Pete Campbell’s gotten a raw deal. He keeps hearing about how awful his “Mad Men” character is because he was the one who suggested Joan (Christina Hendricks) sleep with a client as a way to land the Jaguar advertising account. Joan agreed to the proposition with her compensation being that she became a partner in the advertising firm.
He understands viewers don’t necessarily like Pete but they love Joan and that’s why the reaction was so negative.
“You can step on the neck of a lot of people but you don’t step on the neck of Joan. Because everyone loves her, there was a higher level of protectiveness,” says Kartheiser. “But, I think it’s quite funny because everyone says ‘That’s the worst thing Pete’s ever done’ and I think ‘What did he do?’ Isn’t that the worst thing that Joan’s ever done?”
Kartheiser’s defense of his character is that all Pete did was offer Joan part of the company to go on a date with the client. He points out that it was Joan who had the option to take the deal or turn it down. Also, it was a vote of the partners who agreed Pete should make the deal and four or the five — Don Draper having left the room in protest — were on board with the idea.
“Pete knew the agency needed a car account. Plus, let’s face it, Joan’s not a nun. It’s not like Joan got to where she got because of her great secretarial skills,” says Kartheiser. “She was an element in the office for the reason that when clients came, she walked them through the office. That’s the flat truth of it.
“He offered it to her because he knew she would say yes.”
He adds that Don Draper has done just as many bad things as Pete but viewers like him far more than Pete.
“The reason people like Don Draper and Joan Harris — and not Pete Campbell — is because they are attractive, charming, subtle, well-dressed and poised. We like to imagine we’re like that too, but most of us are kind of ugly and most of us aren’t very charming,” says Kartheiser.”So we like to hate the guy on the TV screen so we don’t have to hate ourselves.”