• Bob Benson's True Colors: A Case for the Nice Guy

    Why is the world so suspicious of Bob Benson? When we were first being introduced to the newest SCDP SCDPCGC SC&P account man, his exaggerated helpfulness and kow-towing made us bristle. Where did this annoyingly-friendly sycophant come from and what is he trying to get out of these one-sided conversations? But then he saved Joan, befriended her without any air of sexual pretention, and they went to the beach together. He offered services that Pete was too proud or incompetent to ask for. He tried to help Ginsberg save his skin and then brought him back from the brink of anxious collapse. 

    Despite all those unaccepted cups of coffee and unreturned waves and nods, Benson continues to smile through his existence at SC&P. He seems to be impervious to the cynicism, if not necessarily the lofty ambitions, of those around him. It is this unadulterated friendliness that raises the most suspicions, from both coworkers and viewers. Once we put the pieces together and realized Benson had lied about his father, the blogosphere erupted with conspiracy theories. Rolling Stone compiled a list of the most feasible ideas, ranging from FBI agent to red herring and then asked Twitter to come up with more.

    I would like to submit one more possibility. Bob Benson is a nice guy. He has a naturally sunny disposition and enjoys helping others. He has excellent manners and practices compassion and empathy. Yes, he's there to climb the corporate ladder. Yes, he has a habit of lying, but often to solve a problem, like getting Joan in to see a doctor, or perhaps to obscure a painful past. White lies do not a monster make.

    I'm curious to see him make his 'guardian angel' rounds through the office - How will he help Roger? Jim? Moira? Don? - and even more interested to see what Matthew Weiner has up his sleeve. In a series that revels in the complexity of its characters, I don't think Weiner would create such a one-dimensional character as Benson appears to be. But I also don't believe that his nuances and contradictions will be explored in an evil subplot to reveal Dick Whitman or sabotage the agency. There are good people in this world, and the halls of SC&P need a reminder of that.