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Kevin Cullen

Cut Grace from Boston some slack. There are ads far more insulting than Peloton’s

A Peloton stationary bikeScott Heins/Getty Images/Getty Images

First, a stipulation: Anyone who spends more than $2,000 on an exercise bike should have their head examined.

That includes my son, an earnest 23-year-old Boston College freshman fresh out of the Coast Guard, who doesn’t have a pot to you-know-what in and, as the proud owner of a Peloton, has a habit of hitting me up for quarters for parking meters.

With all that stipulated, I am struggling to understand all the outrage over a Peloton commercial that features some nice young actress called Grace from Boston pedaling, and peddling, an overpriced exercise bike.

Granted, the ad is majestically stupid. It shows some rich guy buying a Peloton as a Christmas present for his already fit and thin wife, presumably because he thinks she could stand to lose a few LBs.


Worse, it shows Grace practically in tears, profusely thanking her husband for his generous and genuine concern for her BMI.

The ad has garnered so much negative publicity that Peloton’s stock price took a hit.

It’s worse overseas. The British newspaper The Guardian suggests the commercial might be in violation of some Orwellian rules in the UK insisting that ads “must not include gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm, or serious widespread offense.”

I don’t even want to know who gets to decide what constitutes a gender stereotype or just how one defines serious widespread offense.

But if we were to adopt the British rules, as we did so many other customs from our former colonizers, there are clearly some Christmas ads that might cause more serious widespread offense than our poor Grace.

There is, for example, that one where a woman scores a pair of matching trinkets on Black Friday and her husband upstages her by buying a pair of matching, fully loaded GMC pickup trucks worth almost $100,000. When the little lady says she likes the blue one, which he had intended to give himself, the husband gallantly agrees to settle for the red one. What a guy.


Almost as bad is the one in which a mom and her kids try to hide a ridiculously large red bow for the new Lexus she bought dad, a task made immeasurably easier by the fact that their house is roughly the size of Buckingham Palace.

In this Christmas season, when the White House wants to cut access to food stamps again, all of these ads for products far beyond the reach of most Americans are more offensive than the one featuring poor, extremely fit Grace.

So, back to my kid, the genius.

Earlier this year, I opened our front door to find two very nice young delivery men struggling under the weight of what I learned was a Peloton.

“Where do you want it,” one asked.

“Back on the truck?” I asked hopefully.

They deposited it in my home office, where I have been known to spend an inordinate amount of time doing extremely important things, such as surfing the Web so I can read about English football, Miles Davis, and cuisine indigenous to the Indian state of Kerala.

My son encouraged me to use the bike, and, out of Grace-from-Boston-like guilt, I obliged. I took a pass on those streaming classes under the tutelage of some barely dressed, Type-A lunatic somewhere in a virtual studio who would bark at me to pedal harder and not be such a mook. If I wanted more of that sort of . . . encouragement, I’d spend more time with my wife.


Not surprisingly, after my son started college he found himself invariably broke. It goes with the territory.

So did canceling the monthly fee for the streaming classes.

My son is now discovering the nonmaterialistic joys of academia, while the Peloton gathers dust, relegated to his father-in-law’s house somewhere in the bowels of Connecticut, so isolated that even David Letterman’s stalker can’t find it.

The kid will learn. But the Jesuits will earn that tuition.


Here’s why people are reacting so viscerally to the ‘Grace in Boston’ Peloton commercial

Here’s what Peloton had to say about the viral reaction to its ‘Grace in Boston’ ad

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Nestor Ramos: If Peloton is canceled, here are some gifts that won’t get you in trouble on Twitter

Kevin Cullen: Cut Grace from Boston some slack. There are Christmas ads far more insulting

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Kevin Cullen is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at