How Pete Campbell of ‘Mad Men’ Garnered Respect and Approval Only When He Stopped Expecting It

Everyone wants to be Don Draper, but the sad truth is we’re all Pete Campbell.

As part of their ongoing analysis of the well-defined, flawed characters of Mad Men, Debra Minoff and Susannah McCullough of ScreenPrism dove into the seemingly shallow character of Pete Campbell, only to realize that there was so much more to him than he even knew. Campbell spent much of the series acting like a spoiled, entitled child who deserved adoration because of who he was, an expectation that led to his repeated failure in comparison to the extremely successful Don Draper. Yet as he matured, Pete began to become more confident within himself and of his skills, he let go of his tightly embedded Impostor Syndrome and became a true asset to the company and his family.

By the end of the series he’s no longer an annoying suck-up but someone who has the right to be proud of his accomplishments and who’s friendly with his coworkers… Pete still isn’t quite the hero of the story but he’s become someone we can respect appreciate and empathize with. So if we all have a Pete Campbell in us his ending point tells us that it’s possible to get past those hang-ups and insecurities.

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails. Lori can be found posting on Threads and sharing photos on Instagram.