Television|Another Peloton Heart Attack on TV? ‘Billions’ Says It’s a Coincidence.
This article includes mild spoilers for the Season 6 premiere of “Billions.”
Mr. Big wasn’t the only one.
In an early scene of the Season 6 premiere of the Showtime white-collar crime drama “Billions,” a main character on the show, Mike Wagner (played by David Costabile), has a heart attack while riding a Peloton, the high-end stationary bike.
Television viewers may well experience déjà vu after seeing the character dismount his Peloton and react to a wave of chest pain amid luxury furnishings. In the premiere episode last month of HBO Max’s “Sex and the City” revival, “And Just Like That …,” Carrie’s husband, known as Mr. Big (Chris Noth), dies of a heart attack after finishing his 1,000th Peloton ride.
One difference in the bizarrely similar plot points is that Costabile’s character, an executive at the hedge fund at the center of the show, survives. And when he returns to the office after his heart attack, the show took a chance to address the plot parallel head on.
“I’m not going out like Mr. Big,” Wagner, better known as Wags, says triumphantly to his employees.
Peloton said in a statement that the company had not agreed to the use of its brand or intellectual property on the show, and that it had not provided equipment for the episode.
“As referenced by the show itself,” the statement said, “there are strong benefits of cardiovascular exercise to help people lead long, happy lives.”
The Season 6 premiere was given a surprise early release on Friday morning ahead of its scheduled on-air premiere Sunday night. The episode will be available free until April 10 across multiple streaming platforms, including on Showtime’s own website, Showtime.com, and on YouTube.
In a statement, the show’s executive producers said the scene was written and shot last spring, months before Mr. Big’s onscreen demise. The line of dialogue about Mr. Big was overdubbed only recently in postproduction.
“We added the line because it was what Wags would say,” they said in the statement. Showtime did not immediately respond to a question about whether Peloton was aware of the cameo before the episode debuted.
The ill-fated “Sex and the City” cameo became a problem for Peloton: After the episode debuted, the company’s stock dropped.
The company tried to turn the unflattering cameo around by quickly filming an online ad featuring Noth, who lounges cozily with his Peloton instructor by the fire. But that move backfired when, later that week, The Hollywood Reporter published an article in which two women accused him of sexual assault. Peloton deleted the ad from its social media accounts. (Noth called the accusations “categorically false” and has since been accused of and denied sexual misconduct by multiple others.)
The company has already been facing challenges this week. After CNBC reported that the company planned to pause the production of its bikes, Peloton’s chief executive released a statement denying the report but saying that the company is considering laying off some workers. Peloton’s stock dropped 24 percent on Thursday.
The scenes were devised as restrictions kept people exercising at home during the pandemic, but demand for Peloton’s equipment has been waning as the country returns to old routines.