SPOILER ALERT: This article discusses a major plot development in the first episode of “And Just Like That,” the “Sex and the City” revival series now streaming on HBO Max.
Shares of Peloton, the fitness equipment company, fell 11.3% Thursday — tumbling to a 19-month low — after a key character in HBO Max’s “Sex and the City” revival, “And Just Like That,” was shown dying of a heart attack after a 45-minute workout on one of the company’s exercise bikes.
The stock continued its slide Friday, down more than 5% in midmorning trading.
According to Peloton, the company had approved the show’s use of the bike as well as the appearance of “Allegra,” a fictional instructor played by real-life Peloton cycling instructor Jess King. However, Peloton did not know that “And Just Like That,” which premiered Dec. 9, would show [SPOILER ALERT] Mr. Big, played by Chris Noth, collapsing and then dying after a Peloton workout. Mr. Big was the on-again-off-again love interest of protagonist Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker). “And just like that — Big died,” Carrie says in the scene.
In response, Peloton pointed to Mr. Big’s unhealthy lifestyle choices as the likely cause of his demise — rather than the fact that his death was precipitated by his use of the company’s exercise bike. Prior to hopping on the Peloton bike, Big is seen puffing on a cigar.
“I’m sure ‘SATC’ fans, like me, are saddened by the news that Mr. Big dies of a heart attack,” cardiologist Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a member of Peloton’s health and wellness advisory group, said in a statement released by the company. “Mr. Big lived what many would call an extravagant lifestyle — including cocktails, cigars, and big steaks — and was at serious risk as he had a previous cardiac event in season 6. These lifestyle choices and perhaps even his family history, which often is a significant factor, were the likely cause of his death. Riding his Peloton Bike may have even helped delay his cardiac event.”
In a research note to clients, BMO Capital Markets analysts called out the “And Just Like That” scene, writing, “Although unlikely to impact sales, it does question whether [Peloton] is losing degrees of control over its storytelling, perhaps its greatest achievement to date.”
Peloton was among the “stay-at-home” stocks that experienced a surge during COVID lockdowns, as people stopped going to gyms. Part of the pressure on Peloton’s shares stems from expectations that consumers will be spending less money on home-exercise products and services once coronavirus cases subside.
On Friday, Credit Suisse analyst Kaumil Gajrawala downgraded the stock from “outperform” to “neutral” and cut his 12-month price target on the stock from $112 to $50 per share. In a research note, the analyst cited headwinds for Peloton related to “Higher mobility, a shift in consumer spending, and the return of in-person fitness” after the company experienced “a breakneck” fiscal 2021.
Peloton last broke into the cultural zeitgeist to this extent two years ago, when a holiday ad that many perceived as sexist and elitist was widely satirized on social media.