Film and TV | James Wolk | Mad Men | News | Television

Bob Benson’s Secret Revealed On 'Mad Men' [Spoilers]




After weeks of speculation, Sunday’s episode of Mad Men finally answered the question, “What is up with Bob Benson?”

The rising accounts man (portrayed by James Wolk) had recommended a nurse to care for Pete Campbell’s aging mother. When Pete’s mother started suggesting she and the nurse had a romantic relationship, Benson sat Pete down and tried to explain.

“Couldn’t it be that if someone took care of you, very good care of you, if this person would do anything for you, if your well-being was his only thought, is it impossible that you might begin to feel something for him? When there's true love, it doesn't matter who it is.”

As he spoke, he slipped his knee up against Pete’s, and suddenly it was clear Benson wasn’t just talking about how Pete’s mother could fall in love with the younger nurse. He was talking about how Pete could learn to love him.

To Benson’s dismay, Pete made his feelings known. “Tell [the nurse] I'll give him a month's pay. And tell him it's disgusting.”

While that’s one question answered, we’re still left wondering: All those handsome men running around SC&P, and you choose Pete Campbell?

Bobby Hankinson is a Brooklyn-based writer and digital strategist. His days are spent thinking about digital engagement for non-profits, while his nights are spent shimmying to Spotify, reading comic books and watching the best (and, let's be honest, worst) TV has to offer. His work has appeared in the Boston Globe and Houston Chronicle.

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  1. He's not gay...
    There's more to this than meets the eye....

    Posted by: Alan Brickman | Jun 10, 2013 9:26:11 AM

  2. Plus Roger would check it out.....

    Posted by: Alan Brickman | Jun 10, 2013 9:28:15 AM

  3. Told you he was gay!

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Jun 10, 2013 9:38:48 AM

  4. Bob knows how to climb the ladder. First Joan, now Pete. He's looking for the way up.

    I don't think it's over with Pete. Probably not over with Joan either.

    Posted by: the other Ken | Jun 10, 2013 9:39:58 AM

  5. Lusting someone doesn't demand that they lust after you in return.

    As for the nurse, that's a completely unprofessional, inappropriate -- and unequal -- relationship. That's not something I'd want in the background of the foundation of a gay relationship. Too many unfortunate implications.

    Posted by: Zeta | Jun 10, 2013 9:51:09 AM

  6. Dear Mad Men Executives,
    If you wanted the audience to believe that Pete was a desirable man for whom suburban women would leave their husbands, and whom (presumably) gay men would hit on at work, you should not have cast an ugly actor with less sex appeal than used dishwater to play him.

    Pretty much everyone

    Posted by: dws | Jun 10, 2013 10:32:22 AM

  7. Oh so Ehrenstein told us he was gay. Big deal. Imagine, a whole career in gossip, it's like living on sandwiches.

    Posted by: UFFDA | Jun 10, 2013 10:37:35 AM

  8. I think Bob is more like Nolan Ross on Revenge, he'll do whoever or whatever it takes to get the job done.. whether it's with a man or a woman.

    Posted by: Poof | Jun 10, 2013 10:41:37 AM

  9. Is it wrong that I was hoping that when Peggy called Mr. Grizzley to come get the rat in the trap I was hoping it was Bob in bed next to him?

    Posted by: Mike | Jun 10, 2013 11:01:34 AM

  10. Given that even Pete's own mother called him "unlovable" and a "sour little man" in this episode, AND that the show does its best to make Pete unattractive, I'm not yet buying the narrative that Bob (who, let's face it, could do much better) has been longing for Pete in silence. This is a very interesting development, but it doesn't solve the Bob Mystery yet.

    Posted by: Profe Sancho Panza | Jun 10, 2013 11:16:56 AM

  11. I agree -- nothing solved. Or, it raises as many questions as it answers. I get that he and Joan would make a lovely gay/gaypal relationship. I get that he would try to be helpful to everyone.

    But there is a smarmy side to all this sucking up. People like that in the office are most concerned about how they are perceived by the uppers and kiss their ass constantly. After the regular staffers catch on, they don't give up, but they never let their facade down.

    And yeah, Pete is singularly unattractive physically, emotionally, and professionally, and I doubt anyone would lust after him, man or woman.

    Posted by: Randy | Jun 10, 2013 11:46:43 AM

  12. Bob Would make a great gay icon, though. And it's great this happened during Pride week. They probably timed it that way.

    Posted by: Randy | Jun 10, 2013 11:47:32 AM

  13. I agree there may be more to Bob yet. But, to say that he's only throwing that out to Pete to move up the ladder doesn't really make sense. Remember, this is still 1968 and I doubt he'd fake a pass just to see IF Pete responded without any information that Pete would even go for it. Like Sal years before, its as likely he'd be risking a very public humiliation and firing for making that pass. It makes no sense to me that he's only trying to angle a way up the ladder doing that!!

    Posted by: princely54 | Jun 10, 2013 11:47:51 AM

  14. One last comment -- last week when Bob said he knew a male nurse, that set off my alarms. Back then, almost all nurses were female, and a male nurse would have been quite rare. Likely, most of them were gay as well.

    I suspect that the male nurse is an old flame of Bob's who is still friends with him.

    Posted by: Randy | Jun 10, 2013 11:49:36 AM

  15. First of all, we can't always control who we're attracted to, and secondly, given the time period, there is something to be said for pursuing someone you might suspect is gay as well, rather than pining for a pointless crush on someone more attractive but straight (a lesson many contemporary gay men could still learn). If he is gay, he may be much healthier than Sal was in regards to his sexuality. And I don't think Pete is physically unattractive--he just isn't served well by the '60s haircuts and fashions. (And plenty of you lusted after him when he was playing a teenager on "Angel.")

    Posted by: Ronny | Jun 10, 2013 12:00:28 PM

  16. When Pete brings up his insane mother's claim that the nurse is having an affair with her Bob says "Oh he doesn't go that way." IOW the nurse may well be an old flame of Bob's.

    Bob's clearly a Phoebe. He doesn't have to actually lust after Pete to make a move on him but he HAS to be gay to make such a move. Why you people can't see that I do not understand.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Jun 10, 2013 12:02:40 PM

  17. I have watched the first 4 episodes of this show, from the beginning, on Netflix (They have all the past seasons). I thought almost all the male actors sounded gay. I hope the acting improves or I won't watch too many more episodes. Everyone acts like their in a fog.

    Posted by: Jellybean | Jun 10, 2013 12:05:49 PM

  18. He's not gay....I think he just has alot of love and heart to give..He is a young idealistic Don Draper...before it all got to him...

    Posted by: Alan Brickman | Jun 10, 2013 12:46:23 PM

  19. That was Alan Brickman doing a perfect Karen Richards.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Jun 10, 2013 12:49:17 PM

  20. Of all the hotties in that office...Peter??? It's not so much that he's unattractive (I'm sure in another part the actor could be quite charming)'s that he's such an awful person. Blech!

    Posted by: Houndentenor | Jun 10, 2013 1:30:05 PM

  21. Pete is the anti-Don, though they are both liars.

    Posted by: anon | Jun 10, 2013 1:58:17 PM

  22. I think that James Wolk is gay in real life, and a major league hotty.

    Posted by: EricD. | Jun 10, 2013 2:03:39 PM

  23. Can we not make a fictional character on a TV show a gay icon? Really!?

    Posted by: dre | Jun 10, 2013 2:10:52 PM

  24. Is it really that difficult to remember that this is 1968, when being gay - exposing yourself to a coworker - could have dire consequences? You REALLY think Bob would do that if he wasn't gay?

    As for Pete's attractiveness, first, Bob most likely does not know the Pete we, as watchers of him since, what, 1960, know. He sees a guy much higher up on the ladder (isn't Pete a partner, though un-named?), going through a separation, who needs to be saved. Bob could be reading into that. And like someone else said, attraction is not always logical.

    Posted by: TonyG | Jun 10, 2013 2:16:30 PM

  25. Bob has been shown lying before (he's told conflicting stories about his father to separate people, for example). As careful as the show is, I don't think that's an accident. In last night's scene, he comes on to Pete right after Pete has referred to gays as "degenerate," which is very odd behavior even if Bob is gay. Something doesn't add up here, and I'm starting to fall into the camp that thinks that Bob is a grifter, a corporate spy, or FBI.

    Posted by: bobbyjoe | Jun 10, 2013 3:31:40 PM

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