President of “the Howdy Doody Circus Army” or Neverland or New Penzance, Pete Campbell is Peter Pan—Beth Dawes, his Wendy Darling. Perhaps it boils down to casting: brunettes with twinkly eyes, women in diaphanous nightgowns betwixt and between mad men and Lost Boys. Pete, like Pan, refuses to grow up. Or at least, he tries and fails. Pete like Pan, brawls with himself most, with his own shadow, with his tangled relationship to mothers and women. In some ways, Pete’s social status has afforded him varying versions of Neverland: boarding school, country clubs, a college frat. Until recently, Pete Campbell couldn’t drive.
Prone to temper tantrums and stunted by entitlement, both J.M. Barrie and Matthew Weiner’s Peters are pompous, cocky, wounded, and prone to brief moments of piousness. Moreover, as is with most anti-heroes, it’s unsurprising when they get punched, repeatedly.