By now you’ve probably seen that Peloton commercial or at least come across one of the takedowns or memes it’s spawned. And as an under-the-wire favorite for the worst commercial of the decade, “The Gift That Gives Back” deserves all of the heat it’s catching. But in the end, it’s just not that big of a deal.
If you’ve somehow avoided the ad, the first thing you should know about it is that Tal Bachman’s treacly “She’s So High” is the soundtrack. On Christmas morning, a wife comes downstairs with her daughter to find that her husband has gifted her a $2,245 stationary bike. She is now Peloton wife.
The remainder of the ad is presented as a video diary as if people often vlog their exercises. There she is looking terrified before her first ride, celebrating five days in a row, waking up at 5 a.m. as Peloton husband sleeps in, celebrating a shoutout from the trainer on her screen. Then, the twist: it’s suddenly the following Christmas and Peloton couple is sitting on their couch watching her diaries on their very large but very thin television. “I didn’t realize how much this would change me. Thank you,” she says, nauseatingly.
Canadian actor Sean Hunter—Pelton husband himself—told Psychology Today that he’s worried about the repercussions of his four seconds of screen time. It’s true that, like husbands in a lot of commercials, his character comes off like kind of a dick, but for him to worry that his career will be permanently damaged is a pretty big overreaction.
Similarly, while you could spend a lot of time analyzing the abysmal class and gender politics of the ad, you probably shouldn’t because it’s just a (supremely) dumb ad. There are other cultural texts that have more of an impact. This ad is something that a few clueless advertising people came up with and a bunch of oblivious executives approved. Like Hunter, they’re also going to be fine, having rightly suffered a few days of roasting before the internet outrage cycle, as it always does, moves on to the next thing.