The Peloton predicament

Death by Peloton?  That seems to be the new method of murder on the rise.

During the recent premiere of season 6 of Showtime’s drama Succession, Mike Wagner collapsed with a heart attack after taking a Peloton class.  This is just months after Mr. Big dropped dead following a Peloton workout at home on the premiere of And Just Like That, the Sex and the City reboot.

Two heart attacks?  Two months apart?  Two Peloton bikes?  Coincidence?

I think not.

After all, if you’re a hit show focusing on rich, successful people, you’re going to insert products that are popular into your storylines.  Your characters will drive expensive cars, wear designer duds, and have the latest electronics.

In 2019, Peloton was a four billion dollar start-up with a nearly cult-like following that actually got a huge boost when the pandemic hit and gyms were shut down.  It will also put you in the hole to the tune of nearly two grand for the base model – four thousand for its top end equipment.

So yes, two TV shows wanted to incorporate this fad into their storylines as a status symbol.  And it’s great publicity.  Except Peloton claims that it’s now being blamed for causing heart attacks.

The company was flattered to supply a bike for the much-anticipated AJLT show.  At first.  The moment Mr. Big flat-lined, the suits at Peloton rushed to have their doctors assess this fictional character’s lifestyle and medical history.  (He’d had a prior cardiac event on Sex and the City.)  Their preventative cardiologist immediately released an explanation of why Peloton was not at fault for Big’s death.  She further outlined the bike’s added features which could help avoid such a tragedy.

But was this rush to defend oneself really necessary?  Does BMW put out press releases every time a character crashes one of their cars on television?  Does Apple need to protect its reputation if a criminal is located using one of their phones in a movie?

How many viewers are at home watching television and sending suspicious looks at the stationary bike currently being used as a clothing rack in the corner?  I’d hazard to guess, there are a few.  And they’re secretly patting themselves on the back – and the heart – for the layer of dust that has built up on their exercise equipment.

However, the majority of sane potential customers are not worried about a fictional character’s infarction when they’re selecting their method of home workout.  Besides, only Mr. Big died.  Succession’s Mr. Wagner did not.  Instead, he invoked Big’s name and swore he was not going to be taken out by a Peloton.  (Side Note: The episode was produced last spring and the line about Big was only recently added.)

But the company is still annoyed.  They didn’t know their product would be used again or in this manner.  So it was a shock.  And bad timing.

Between high prices, last year’s product recalls, and general unemployment numbers in America, Peloton is dealing with a multitude of reasons behind its falling share prices and questionable corporate future.

None of them have anything to do with a TV show.