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Bob Benson, Beloit College—or not?

June 21, 2013 at 9:44 am
By Lynn Vollbrecht

It turns out that one of this summer’s most-talked-about Beloit College (fictional) graduates may not actually have matriculated. In the latest episode of AMC’s hit ‘60s-era drama Mad Men, one character’s snooping revealed that Bob-Benson-of-Beloit-College had probably falsified his entire resume, including his undergraduate stint in Wisconsin.

Bob Benson 

Beloiters and non-Beloiters alike have been abuzz over Benson (above left, played by James Wolk), the clean-cut, handsome, and seemingly ever-present new account man who popped up in the first episode of the show’s sixth season, introducing himself to main character Don Draper in the elevator as “Bob Benson, Beloit College. Wharton. Accounts,” and handing him a cup of coffee. (Of which he seems to have a never-ending supply.) And so on and so forth. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s television and film critic, Duane Dudek, pointed out that Benson name-dropping Beloit was just one of several Wisconsin references in the season debut.

Thus began blogger and fans’ obsession with Bob Benson. Who is he? Who was he? Conspiracy theories abounded, with the most popular being that Benson was some sort of government spy, or an investigative journalist trying to get an insider scoop on Sterling Cooper & Partners. Or even, according to one person on Twitter using the #BobBenson hashtag—the Zodiac killer? Besides inspiring a great deal of Twitter chatter, the Benson character has also spawned several parody Twitter accounts.

On the second to last episode, Benson made a pass at one of the show’s leading male characters, Pete Campbell, which led many viewers to think that this was what the mystery was about. It turns out that the scene was just the tipping point of the many things viewers were about to learn about Bob Benson. Namely: that he faked his way into a job with the Mad Men ad agency, and was lying about many, many things, including having attended Beloit College. With only one episode left of season six (it will air Sunday, June 23), it remains to be seen if any of the mystery swirling around this faux-alumnus will be resolved.

However, being that Mad Men is known for its twists and surprises, isn’t it possible that Bob Benson did go to Beloit? Below, five reasons that Bob Benson could be a potential honorary Beloiter, if not an actual one:

  1. Man likes his coffee.
  2. One Beloit alumnus on Twitter, Dan Frosch’99, swore he had a class with Bob Benson: “@djfroschNYT  @eddierock9 @Beloit_College @pettyintrigues Pretty sure Bobby Benson was in our Arab/Israeli conflict class in '98. #MadMen.”
  3. He’s fluent in another language—which would not be atypical on a campus with a strong international presence. Or maybe he met Spanish nurse Monolo while studying abroad on the Granada seminar? In her recap of the latest episode, Huffington Post’s Maureen Ryan writes, “We found out some new things about Bob: He speaks Spanish; he knows how to stage a tactical retreat during a tense meeting; and most importantly, he's nobody's pushover.”
  4. If Bob Benson were looking for a queer-friendly campus, Beloit would be a perfect fit. “Go Bob Benson Go. @Beloit_College Pride,” tweeted alumnus Joel Reamer’99 after the episode in which Benson made advances on Pete Campbell.
  5. He seems to wholeheartedly believe in the power of networking, to the extent that it would make the Liberal Arts in Practice Center proud.