A character you “love to hate” is a cliché in the world of television. In general, I have low tolerance for such characters. Usually, I don’t love to hate them. I just flippin’ hate them. Hate. Them. Like, get them off my TV show. I especially hate them on sitcoms, where a hateful character is far too easy a foil for jokes that can leave an unpleasant taste in your mouth. But on dramas, they can be at least as bad, and they can chew up screen time, torturing your eyeballs between commercials.

There are a handful of characters I’ve genuinely loved to hate over the years. Miles Drentell on thirtysomething. “Rocket” Romano on ER. Cordelia Chase on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

And Pete Campbell on Mad Men.

Are there human beings more poisonous than Pete? Pete, who will gladly prostitute his wife to get a short story published, who will push that same wife into an unwanted pregnancy to get a client, who fantasizes about wiping fresh blood onto his leg? Obsessed with parentage, pouting, jealous, angry, mean, adulterous, blackmailing Pete?

And yet, I can’t take my eyes off him.

P.S. This post was written and saved a couple of weeks ago (I do that), and now that we’re discussing Pete, it seemed the time to bring it back.

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