Note: Spoilers ahead for “Billions” and the Sex and the City reboot “And Just Like That…”
Peloton cannot seem to catch a break.
The high-end, high-tech fitness equipment company has become a bit of a punchline, most recently in television.
Just weeks after the “Sex and the City” reboot “And Just Like That…” shocked viewers last month by having main character Carrie Bradshaw’s (Sarah Jessica Parker) longtime love interest Mr. Big (Chris Noth) die from a heart attack on a Peloton stationary bike, another TV show wrote in a similar accident.
“Billions” character Mike “Wags” Wagner (David Costabile) suffers a minor heart attack while riding his Peloton bike in the first episode of the drama’s sixth season which premiered Sunday.
Unlike Chris Noth’s Mr. Big however, Wags survives his Peloton heart attack and even makes a sly reference to the “Sex and the City” reboot’s tragic storyline.
“I’m not going out like Mr. Big,” he says.
As one might imagine, Peloton is not happy with the “Billions” scene. The company released a statement saying it never gave permission for a Peloton appearance in the show’s new season.
“We get why these fictional TV shows would want to include a brand that people love to talk about, but Showtime’s use of Peloton’s Bike+ and reference to a Peloton Instructor was not a brand, product, or instructor placement, and we did not agree for our brand and IP to be used on this show or provide any equipment. As referenced by the show itself, there are strong benefits of cardio-vascular exercise to help people lead long, happy lives,” Peloton said in its statement.
Peloton’s stock dropped shortly before Christmas after the “Sex and the City” reboot premiered, featuring the fatal heart attack in the very first episode.
The “Billions” producers said the similarity between the two storylines was purely a coincidence and that the “Billion” scene was written and shot last spring, long before the “Sex and the City” reboot appeared on screens. The line about Mr. Big was dubbed in post production, they said.
“We added the line because it was what Wags would say,” the show’s producers said in a statement.
“It would be completely out of our character not to take a swing,” executive producer Beth Schacter told USA Today about the decision to add the snarky line. “It’s too good. We’re going to make the joke.”
Peloton scrambled to course correct after Mr. Big met his fate, even snagging Noth to film an online ad featuring Mr. Big and Allegra, played by real-life Peloton instructor Jess King, who led the character’s fatal class.
“Shall we take another ride?” Mr. Big asks in the ad. “Life’s too short not to.”
Even the cheeky ad ended up being a potential problem for Peloton, however, when Noth faced multiple sexual assault allegations, and Peloton pulled the spot a few days later.
Peloton’s TV show troubles are only the latest for the company, which first faced widespread criticism over a 2019 ad that was criticized as “privileged” and “sexist.”
Peloton also apparently censored hashtags that include the phrase “LetsGoBrandon,” an anti-Biden slogan, from its platform, according to a Daily Wire review of the company’s web platform.
Last year, Peloton recalled its treadmills after a 6-year-old child died after being pulled under the rear of the treadmill.
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