Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

This Peloton commercial needs to calm down

Screenshot: Peloton (YouTube)

When looking for the perfect gift, it’s important to pick something that will rend the recipient’s mind asunder. A pair of slippers or a good book may be welcome in the moment, but before long they’ll be forgotten. A truly exceptional gift, on the other hand, inspires equal parts terror and wonder—it should be awesome in the full meaning of the word.

As a new commercial from Peloton makes clear, one of the best ways to accomplish this goal is to give your loved ones stationary bikes that hold them hostage for at least a year of anxiety-soaked daily exercise.

The ad, unassumingly titled “The Gift That Gives Back,” shows a woman walking downstairs on Christmas morning to find an exercise bike waiting for her. She gasps in disbelief and, whether in horror or simple astonishment, shouts out, “A Peloton!?” with the kind of intonation more appropriate to finding a rusting iron maiden waiting in the living room than some workout equipment. Tal Bachman’s “She’s So High” begins to play in the background.

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The commercial goes on to show the woman obsessively documenting her biking journey by taking videos of herself furrowing her brow in fear before the first ride, running home from work to take about her exercise streak, and recording herself waking up at 6 a.m. “That was totally worth it,” she says one morning, eyes pleading through the camera for relief from her torment. The final moments show her sitting on the couch with her partner—the man who gave her this albatross in the first place—to review her video diaries from the past year. He smiles, and she looks at him with the sort an expression that manages to convey duty and fear, mixed with a dash of Stockholm syndrome, all at once.

After being tweeted out by @SamuelMoen, Twitter chimed in to offer readings of the ad’s potential meanings or to just screencap the bike prisoner’s powerful acting.

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Whatever you take away from the video, the ultimate message is pretty clear: Buy an exercise bike as a holiday gift and whomever you give it to will never forget you, or the moment they entered into a dread pact with the device, for as long as they live. No matter how hard they try.

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About the author

Reid McCarter

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.