Peloton is standing by their stupid ad campaign, even though their stock dropped

Pippa Middleton and James Matthews leave annual service at St Luke's Church in London

We discussed the viral Peloton commercial earlier this week. The latest holiday “give the gift of Peloton this Christmas” commercial has been airing for weeks, but for some reason, it reached peak saturation and peak parody this week as everyone began piling on about the stupid messaging of the commercial. Here it is again:

It’s still sort of rage-inducing. A husband “surprising” his wife with a $2200 stationary bike for Christmas, and then she nervously films herself using it for a year. Everyone had strong feelings about the entire vibe and message. And it got so bad that Peloton had to respond… even as its stock price tumbled. LOL.

Peloton is standing by their controversial holiday commercial, despite a seemingly correlated drop in their market value amid backlash. On Wednesday, the high-end fitness equipment company responded to criticism they’ve received since releasing the ad in late November.

“We constantly hear from our members how their lives have been meaningfully and positively impacted after purchasing or being gifted a Peloton Bike or Tread, often in ways that surprise them,” a company spokesperson told PEOPLE in a statement. “Our holiday spot was created to celebrate that fitness and wellness journey. While we’re disappointed in how some have misinterpreted this commercial, we are encouraged by — and grateful for — the outpouring of support we’ve received from those who understand what we were trying to communicate.”

Regardless of the pushback against the criticism, Peloton still saw a nine percent drop in their stock on Tuesday, their largest single-day drop since October, Markets Insider reported. It cost the company nearly $942 million, bringing their total market value down to roughly $9.4 billion. Analysts from Raymond James, an investment banking company, told CNBC the drop would not impact the company in the long run.

“While reactions to the holiday ad are disappointing, we do not expect it will adversely affect holiday demand,” the analysts told the outlet. “We do believe Peloton may review its marketing strategy, given the frequency in which its ads are parodied on social media.” Peloton has a history of drawing ire with their commercials, critics often pointing out that their ads only seem to feature wealthy customers. The company’s bike retails at $2,245, and a membership for the company’s virtual classes costs $39 a month.

[From People]

$2245 for a bike PLUS a monthly membership and the message from the ad is “SURPRISE your wife with this.” Think of all the other gifts you could buy your spouse with that money. F–k, the Omaha Steak of the Month club is a lot cheaper and a lot more fulfilling!! You could also get your wife – the mother of your child, in the context of this commercial – a lovely piece of jewelry for that money. You could get a great piece of jewelry AND the steak of the month club. Anyway, I love that the people were clowning on Peloton so hard that it affected their stock. I love that Peloton is “reviewing” their ad buys too. Because I feel like screaming whenever that ad airs, and it airs SO MUCH.

Pippa Middleton and James Matthews leave annual service at St Luke's Church in London

Pippa Middleton and James Matthews leave annual service at St Luke's Church in London

Screencaps courtesy of that terrible Peloton commercial.

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78 Responses to “Peloton is standing by their stupid ad campaign, even though their stock dropped”

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  1. BlueSky says:

    I think all their ads are dumb but this took it to another level. You know that ad room is probably full of men who thought nothing of putting this ad out.

    • Sara says:

      This right here.

    • Critifur says:

      I think it would have been a great ad if he had bought bikes for both of them to use together, we then seem them do the program over the year and become closer, better couple, better parents together. Otherwise its like, “here wife, I spent an extreme amount of money, you need to get into shape, but don’t leave the house, you must be isolated”.

  2. KJ says:

    I don’t have a problem with someone buying their spouse a bike — beyond it being stupid-expensive — but the “surprise!!” element of this makes me insane. That woman looks TERRIFIED when she gets on the bike, and the implication is that she’s never even done a spin class before this. THAT is bonkers.

    • manda says:

      yeah, she is really the one that makes it so weird, IMO. I don’t know what the actress is really trying to convey with her facial expressions, but they come across as scared and uncomfortable, which is just not a good look

      • Originaltessa says:

        It would be pretty hilarious if Peloton lost a billion dollars in value because they hired a bad actress… What if the original storyboard had her seem excited and stoked? Lol

      • Rapunzel says:

        See now I thought it was the husband’s smug ass face at the end while watching her video that was the worst.

        But nervous over a stationary bike ride is dumb. I also did not like her forcing herself to ride at 6am when she clearly didn’t want to. Or that she is shown immediately dropping everything when she comes in the house to ride her bike. Who does that?

      • Wilady says:

        I think they’re trying to appeal to people who might be nervous about beginning to exercise, but the actress just went too far with her face.

        Lots of people drag themselves out of bed to workout. If I didn’t workout because I wasn’t in the mood, I barely would. But I have absolutely NEVER said, “I really wish I hadn’t run today.” I’m always grateful and happy I dragged my butt out of bed, and that’s what I try to remember. There are days you don’t want to, but you thank yourself for sticking with it an hour later.

        I could see this if my husband gave me like boxing gloves or something and a kickboxing class. I would be nervous doing something new but who knows how I’ll feel in a year? Could change my life, or not, but who knows?

        People went crazy over this and I don’t really get why. I hate that people made it about weight because they clearly made a point to NOT make it about weight. They made it about strength, cardio fitness, sticking to your goals, and I appreciated that.

        I think this just blew up because it blew up and it’s not that big of a deal.

      • bros says:

        This is an ad for Peleton Stockholm Syndrome. WHAT IS WITH HER EYES

      • Dutch says:

        @Wilady, people went crazy because in making fun of Peloton’s pretentious ads has become sport. This one is the modern equivalent of buying your spouse a vacuum cleaner as a surprise: unromantic and passive aggressive. Then the ad doubles down and shows this woman going on a tearful fitness journey transforming herself from a 116-pound woman to a 112-pound woman.

      • PPP says:

        What if she’s not a bad actress but just a feminist who brought out all the uncomfortable undertones of a husband surprising his wife with an exercise bike for Christmas?

    • Derriere says:

      That is the takeaway I have from the commercial. Outside of the creepy aspect of a husband gifting his wife exercise equipment, the woman looks like she has been taken hostage and she is on the verge of tears but will be shot by someone off-camera if she doesn’t get this take on a bike!

  3. Cee says:

    They should take it off rotation and replace it with a more meaningful ad. Like perhaps the wife ASKING for a Peloton and not looking like someone being held against her will.

    • TQB says:

      I think it was last year’s commercial where the husband again bought one for his wife, but the commercial was all about it being hidden in the garage and both of them sneaking out to use it. I thought that was cute – clearly this was a thing both of them wanted, cared about, and were happy to have.

  4. Tammy says:

    Would everyone think differently if the woman didn’t looked terrified? I know I am asking for a spin bike (not this one) so I would be thrilled. I’m also not a jewelry or meat type of gal. I guess it’s all everyone’s preference and relationship with their husband. While I don’t think it’s the best commercial, I think if the actress looked happy it would be much better.

    • Becks1 says:

      I do think this is part of it. Most of the peloton commercials this time of the year are about one spouse surprising another with it. And, some people (men and women) would be thrilled with a gift like this. But, she does look terrified, and in many of the “Action shots” she looks like she is in a gilded cage of sorts. It is definitely reminiscent of that episode of Black Mirror.

      I liked the commercial last year or the year before – where the husband buys one for the wife, and she finds it before Christmas, so goes and uses it every night when he goes to sleep and then still acts surprised when he gives it to her. That was a good way of showing that the woman DOES want the bike and she IS really excited about it.

      If you have never really worked out regularly or been on a spin bike (and that’s the impression I get from this commercial), a 2k bike is a big risk.

      • Becks1 says:

        Oh and I’ll add that my husband got me an exercise bike for my birthday last year. (not an expensive one, more of a “let me see if I like going to the basement to work out” kind of thing, lol) – and I was really excited about it, but I had specifically told him I wanted one. So I am not put off by the idea of exercise equipment as gifts in general.

    • LadyMTL says:

      As Cee said above – and I agree – it could have been so much better if they’d just showed her asking for a Peloton, or even wishing for one. Like “man, I love my spin class but I get home so late because of all of this crazy traffic! I wish I had a bike here at home” then boom, she gets one for Xmas. I know if I got a piece of exercise equipment as a ‘gift’ and hadn’t asked for one I’d be kind of pissed, lol.

      As to why she looks terrified, that’s just beyond me. For me, it’s just a strange, dumb ad overall.

      • damejudi says:

        My first impression was similar. “Thank you for this gift-and for protecting me from my fata*s self.”

        I think I said out loud (the first time I saw the commercial) “Merry Christmas! Now get in shape-or else!”

        Just yikes. Women own their fitness, and may genuinely wish for exercise equipment as gifts, but this ad is tone-deaf.

    • manda says:

      Yes, this 100%

    • Ainsley7 says:

      It would have read very differently if she had been happy. The fact that she is terrified to do something that she’s clearly more than capable of is why people are forced to assume that her husband is putting pressure on her or something. It’s the only way to make sense of her fear.

    • goofpuff says:

      If the woman didn’t look terrified. If the husband didn’t look smug. And if she didn’t look like she was trying to please him so she wouldn’t get beaten in the next frame. Then the ad wouldn’t be so cringeworthy. There’s nothing wrong with getting your spouse exercise equipment AS LONG AS THEY HAVE SAID THEY WANT IT. I can’t emphasize that enough. Nothing is more depressing than being ‘surprised’ with fitness things you didn’t ask for and didn’t realized someone actually though you needed. As in, I thought I was healthy, so you’re saying I’m not?

      • My3cents says:

        Yup, I got really bad controlling abusive vibes.
        She’s terrified and she has to film herself so she could prove she was using it because he is never around?
        I don’t know it just looks like he’s super controlling and she’s appeasing him.

    • Lady Keller says:

      Personally, I would not have minded the ad if she looked happy. Some people I know were offended by a spouse surprising their partner with exercise equipment. I would love to get something like this for christmas if we had the space for it. I would totally use it, and I think my husband knows me well enough to get that.

      Other people I know were offended that a thin woman was given exercise equipment which I think is unfair. Thin people can still strive to be healthier and live better lives. Thin does not always equal in shape and not everyone works out for weight loss.

      My issue is the actress and her facial expression and mannerisms. To me everything about her screams terrified. I get sleeping with the enemy vibes from her house. I’m scared for her that she didn’t put the groceries away right, or she isn’t home to greet him when he gets home. I dont know if it is the actress, or the director, or the editors, but someone really misinterpreted the message.

    • Chaine says:

      I would be scared if my partner spent thousands of dollars on that thing, too, because I wouldn’t feel that I had any option but to use it to get the money value out of it, and I HATE stationary bikes, don’t care about the health benefits, the crotch pain and numbness is NOT worth it!

      • goofpuff says:

        Omg I hate them too! My BFF has a Peloton and has been trying to get me to get one. But I HATE THEM. I have tried so many times, but they are just all uncomfortable.

    • M.A.F. says:

      Her facial expressions are that of person about to have major surgery, not getting on an exercise bike. Then the video at the end, to her husband? Is that suppose to be his Christmas present? “Hey watch this video I made for you of me on the bike from last year! Merry Christmas honey!”. No thank you.

    • Tourmaline says:

      Yep this was a major fail for whomever directed the commercial. The terrified/under duress macro-expressions on the part of the actress with the big pleading eyes and nervous demeanor (“Please love me, sir! I will ride the bike until you love me!”) were so over the top. Either she should have been directed correctly or recast.

    • morrigan01 says:

      Yeah, I think if she had been shown to be clearly *happy* about the gift, it would give the commercial a different tone. I’ve seen the ad a LOT in the past few weeks and each time I think it feels like the husband gave her the bike because he think she’s fat and needs to lose weight – because that’s the vibe the *wife* gives off when she receives the gift. Like she didn’t ask for it, expect it, or want it, but feels obligated to use it because he think she’s fat or something, and is scared of not using it because he might be cold to her or something if she doesn’t stay in better shape.

      Didn’t know until now however that I wasn’t alone in getting that kind of undertone from the ad.

    • Some chick says:

      She didn’t ask for it. It was a surprise. And he’s just so smug, and she’s so terrified. I don’t think she’s a bad actress. I think the entire concept was a bad idea. Let’s not blame her – she’s hired to do a role.

  5. Originaltessa says:

    I mean the ad sucks and the actress seems like a prisoner in a cult, but the devaluation of the company seems disproportionate? I wonder if there’s something else behind the drop? Like healthy competition that won’t drain the bank account?

  6. T.Fanty says:

    I have a Peloton and *many* people gift them. And people document their rides, and obsess over the communities. It’s a bit of an insane cult, but this audience hits the exact demographic for whom the bike, and place in the community is aspirational. What Peloton has done, that is brilliant, is got people to think that a fitness bike is a lifestyle.

    • insertpunhere says:

      Also a peloton owner here (a single one, so my bike was a gift from me to me), and my sister and I literally refer to it as “worshiping at the altar of peloton” when we discuss our rides. It’s cult-y, no doubt, but as someone who never consistently exercised and now does, it was a cult worth joining for me.

  7. LaUnicaAngelina says:

    The thing that first caught my attention with this ad was the song. I hate the song so damn much and it doesn’t seem to fit a fitness ad. I consider myself into fitness and I workout regularly.

    Gifting the bike isn’t a bad thing, because she obviously works out, but maybe she’s tired of going to the gym? But the vibe of this part commercial is way off because they’re trying to give the impression that’s she’s never worked out and she needs to improve herself. It’s also her terrible “aw shucks” acting and the song that make it horrible to me.

    But maybe I should thank Peloton for the distraction this week because it’s been a terrible one. My brother passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on Tuesday afternoon. I’m still shocked, but damn Peloton pulls me out of my fog for a few minutes when the ad pops up.

  8. Soupie says:

    Oh, so it’s simply a matter of “we’re just not getting what they’re trying to communicate.” OK then. 🙄

  9. Kk2 says:

    This ad is bad and awkward, but I don’t get the part where it says they have been criticized for only featuring wealthy customers….er what?? A $2000 exercisle bike is supposed to appeal to the Everyman? That would be a dumb marketing decision. Their target customers are wealthy people, which is fine.

  10. Murphy says:

    Where’s Peggy Olson when you need her?

  11. Casey says:

    I don’t want to see that lady’s face anymore. Also you know that saying any publicity is good well in this case not sure… before this nonsense I had heard of this bike and thought it must be awesome to be so expensive and now I think of it as a joke.

  12. Helloitsme says:

    Can’t someone buy a bike for themselves. Or a wife buying it for a husband or parent or sibling or anything other than the stick-thin trophy wife theme. It’s getting boring.

  13. Lucy2 says:

    It would be fine if she didn’t look terrified, and had asked for the bike. Peloton also should have responded with a sense of humor about it, their response is too serious.

    Do people really spend that much on gifts anyway? My family and I spend less than $100/person, and I only buy for a few others, plus donations. My group of friends like to do stuff together instead of gifts, like a cookie exchange party and holiday dinner out.

    • Christin says:

      It’s her look and how it appears she is seeking approval at the end.

      As for gifts, we buy for ourselves and a family member through the year and do not ro any actual presents at Christmas. We don’t have kids, and grew tired of “having” to buy for adults in our extended family. Everyone needs their money, and it was tedious to try and purchase a small gift for 10 or more people we really aren’t close to anyway.

    • insertpunhere says:

      My sister got hers as a combination anniversary/birthday/christmas present, and it was still more than her husband typically spends. He rationalized it when he offered it with the idea that they’d quit their gym membership, and it would pay for itself within 2 years if they both used it instead of going elsewhere. My sister hates the snow, so she hates going to the gym 5 months out of the year in Michigan.

      Also, as an important note, this was an offer he made to my sister after she’d repeatedly said how much she’d love one, not a surprise gift.

  14. Jamie says:

    This isn’t even the first time Peloton’s ads have been skewered. A guy named Clue Heywood went viral making fun of their ads earlier this year.

  15. IMUCU says:

    I wish my husband would get us a new exercise bike for Christmas. The one we have (handed down from his folks, which they got right before they got pregnant with him, then didn’t use much after) works fine, but isn’t very comfortable being a copper Schwinn Exerciser stationary bike from the 1970s ( I don’t need a Peloton though, just a comfy seat and more ergonomic handle bars!

    • Chaine says:

      All you need is a camera operator and a YouTube account and there is a parody commercial in your future!

  16. M.A.F. says:

    Still hate this commercial and I am glad I’m not the only one who was annoyed by it.

  17. Tiffany says:

    And somewhere the execs at Nordi Track are popping champagne and sending Peloton a ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ card.

  18. Amber says:

    I don’t have a television at home but I work in a bar and we keep the TVs muted. I’ve been seeing this commercial for WEEKS but without being able to tell what they were saying, and at first I thought it was a commercial for, like, a new iPhone or something (because shes filming herself on her phone). Even then I thought it was a baffling scenario. Why is she so afraid to get on this exercise bike? Why is she filming herself do it? Why is the commercial implying she made such a *big change* when she was already thin at the beginning? Then I watched it with the sound and it’s totally gross. If someone bought me an exercise bike as a “surprise” I would break up with them. If I’m with someone who has $2000 to spend on my Christmas present, I’d expect them to know I would want some Jimmy Choos or a YSL bag or something like that.

  19. Earthbound says:

    Ok just watched this. Seriously? This commercial isnt offensive so I’m glad Peloton didnt apologize, even if they are losing sales.
    Rich guy buys rich wife a 2200 dollar bike. She says it changed her life. OMG so offensive!
    Now, Boring? Ok. Offensive? Maybe Im offended I cant get a 2200$ present or just the cold cash but beyond that…lol.

    • Marigold says:

      I think people are focusing on the wrong part of this. Buying the bike wasn’t the issue. The ad shows a frightened woman being given a bike she didn’t ask for and clearly doesn’t know how to use. She uses the bike, says the she loves it (while still looking anxious about it), and demonstrates her good behavior and compliance with the program by showing video proof to a smug looking husband who looms over her on the sofa at the end of the ad.

      It isn’t about a rich guy buying his privileged and conventionally attractive wife an expensive bike to use in their enviably gorgeous home.

      It’s about the atmosphere of abuse that just hangs over the entire thing. That’s what I didn’t like. That’s what my husband immediately read from the ad, as well. Everyone on social media making jokes about husbands shading their wives’ extra pounds have entirely missed the real issue with the ad. It’s probably just bad acting. If the actors had performed the same script differently, it never would’ve become an issue. But they didn’t, so it did…and Peloton didn’t listen. They deserve the lost sales because instead of looking at what they could do better (it went viral for a reason), they just wrapped themselves in a cozy blanket of echo chamber where people who already bought the bike served up a steaming platter of yes man.

      • Earthbound says:

        Maybe you’re right. I guess im missing something . I think I just dont see it due to the fact I dont know people like in this commercial. But on thinking about it, for there to be this strong of an outcry theres got to be something going on that people different from me are being provoked by. You mentioned an “atmosphere of abuse” and my initial reaction was wtf? But, I thought on it and I bet living with a one percent-er dude is no freaking picnic. They need their trophy wife to stay “perfect”. Aka scared face on the actress? I’m getting it a bit more now.

  20. Thea says:

    It bothered me that she looked so damn nervous. It implied that she never been on a spin before. And if that is the case, then it’s so dumb to drop 2k on something new. Not everyone likes spin. What would happen if she hated spin? I also hated how he look so smug and how she looks so grateful.

    I love to workout, in fact I’m going to bootcamp in half an hour and spin later tonight. I don’t have a spin bike, but I’ve done spin classes at the peloton studio in NYC. My cousin just bought herself a second spin bike (she has two now and her and her husband ride together), not a peloton, but a cheaper one. But she does subscribe to peloton. She loves it. She both bikes herself. Her husband didn’t surprise her with them and even though she’s loaded, she still went with the cheaper bikes.

  21. Jay (the Canadian one) says:

    I asked for a treadmill for my birthday years ago so I’ve got to believe there are people out there that want to be gifted exercise equipment and wouldn’t see it as veiled criticism. You presumably just need to know what your partner ACTUALLY wants.

    That said, all ads are trying to sell you things you hadn’t wanted. (If you already wanted it, you wouldn’t need an ad.) Some are just better at it than others.

  22. helen says:

    OMG… If my SO gave me a bike worth $2,200, and I couldn’t take it outside when it’s nice, I’d quickly exchange that for something fun with **SEVERAL** upgrades. In all reality, this is NOT expensive when you consider the built in technology. I’m sure the indoor bike market is not limited by the obsession with saving weight on equipment quite like the traditional bike market, but even with that factored out, this isn’t crazy expensive. Perhaps people need to adjust their expectations (a ccheap indoor bike will not include all of that technology) or look for a less expensive hobby.

    And… before the wolves come out and call me elitist… cycling can be cheap, or sponsored, with realistic expectations about the equipment you will acquire. All the money in the world won’t buy speed or legitimize your experience.

    • Tiffany :) says:

      There’s the cost of the bike, but you also have to pay a $60/month subscription to get the live classes that are on the video screen.

  23. Texas says:

    I’m not their market. Give me jewelry baby! Or clothes. Or a car!

  24. Marigold says:

    I saw this comment on Buzzfeed yesterday about a dad who talked his daughter out of buying a Peloton bike. He said, in part, “I have heard of the Peloton, and have concluded that, like the use of cocaine, it’s another way of God saying people have too much money.” I loved that.

    But I also have to reiterate that my objection to the ad has nothing to do with people wanting to buy the bike or with people who buy one for a spouse/partner/family member/etc. Husbands or wives who see a spouse saying over and over, “I wish I could workout from home,” or constantly struggling to get more fit but with no time to work gym classes into the schedule–a gift like this is NOT a passive-aggressive gesture but one made from love and care and attention paid to what the partner would appreciate and enjoy. It’s not (for me) about a husband buying his already-lovely wife a piece of fitness equipment she didn’t specifically ask for. I don’t think that’s a problem. I just don’t.

    The problem for me, is that the ad REEKS of abuse. The atmosphere of the entire ad is oppressive and reminiscent of stories like “Sleeping With the Enemy.” It’s a combination of the frightened-looking wife and the smug-looking husband and the setup of the “story” in the ad that makes it look like she’s being forced to do this and report back to him with video proof of her compliance. The ad is horrifying, and it’s not about the freaking bike or the cluelessness of men who buy their wives expensive appliances for cleaning or working out that they didn’t ask for. MOST men who do that…do it because they really think their wives will like the item. The intention and heart actually matter, at least in my opinion.

    In this ad, the intention and heart of the husband comes off as control and threat. That’s what people were trying to tell Peloton, and their stock dropped because investors can tell when a company’s leadership is completely out of touch with the people they should be marketing to and–worse–arrogantly determined to remain out of touch with them.

    • Tourmaline says:

      It is very Sleeping with the Enemy—all they need is the cabinets with the canned good labels all facing front, house on the beach, and the wife throwing rocks to break the lampposts outside so she can make her escape.

      • Marigold says:

        Right? The woman gets on that bike with that crazy “I’m so happy I’m terrified” smile, and it’s like Julia with the uneven hand towels in the bathroom where he says, “That’s what reminding is for,” and she says, “Thank you,” with that big toothy smile.

        /shudder – exactly the same vibe.

  25. Tourmaline says:

    all they needed for full Sleeping With the Enemy vibe was to glue a big mustache onto the actor playing the Peloton husband

  26. Angie says:

    You can keep your creepy bike, lady, I’ll take $2000 of Louis Vuitton travel stuff for Christmas!

  27. Eugenie says:

    I’m going out on a limb, but I don’t think the concept of the commercial is all that bad. I think it’s just bad acting. Like if the idea was to go for a aw you shouldn’t have, like understated surprise and had a better actress, I wonder if we all would be talking about it. Because yeah, she looks scared in the commercial.

  28. jade says:

    Nothing offensive about this ad at all. I had to read the comments so I too could be instructed on the how and why to take offense at his commercial. man buys wife a peloton bike. She seems to appreciate it. Maybe I would love it if someone bought me this gift.
    I do wish people would stop being so offended

  29. Veronica S says:

    LOLOLOLOL as IF a woman married to a man who can gift a $2200 workout device for Christmas doesn’t exercise. That’s the real offense of it – the commercial is STUPID. Nobody looks like that without investment in their looks. If she’s wearing a full face of makeup to workout, bitch has been hitting the gym from the start. We have a Peloton store at the mall I work at as a side job, and trust me, the kind of demographic this caters to ain’t a stranger to diet culture.

  30. oandlomom says:

    What offends me more than anything else is that they said “gifted” in their response. I hate that so much. It’s just given. Not gifted. You give someone a fucking Peloton or a hat and scarf set or a coffee maker or whatever, you don’t gift it! Ugh!

  31. Aven Sharp says:

    That poor woman is never going to get another acting gig. The director was probably going for endearing and sincere but her eyebrows couldn’t quite handle it. I don’t feel sorry for Peloton, but I do feel sorry for her. This is probably the end of her acting career.