5 reasons why you should watch WeCrashed…
The year 2022 so far has turned out to be something of a golden age for streaming shows about real-life entrepreneurs who turned out to be insane people.
Right now you can watch the story of Elizabeth Holmes’ Theranos fraud on Hulu’s The Dropout, or how Travis Kalanick created and ultimately pissed away Uber on Showtime’s Super Pumped. Joining those ranks, March 18, is WeCrashed, a new Apple TV+ series about the rise and fall of WeWork and its CEO, Adam Neumann.
Like The Dropout, WeCrashed is based on a Wondery-produced podcast (and not, notably, on the definitive book about the case.) And it also comes on the heels of Netflix’s Inventing Anna, another recent streaming series about a questionable go-getter with a heavy accent, on the make in New York City. Both shows also feature the same actor, Anthony Edwards, as the gatekeeper of venture capital.
Is WeCrashed for you? Based on the early episodes, it has much to recommend about it.
1. A crazy real-life story
Neumann was an ambitious entrepreneur who, after his first couple of ideas failed, came up with a co-working concept called WeWork. Fusing ideas from Silicon Valley and the New York real estate world, Neumann came up with a new way to work, one based on the kibbutzes of his homeland of Israel, only replacing its socialism with capitalism.
The company raised billions and billions of dollars, with Neumann landing on the cover of business magazines, and getting into business with Japan’s Softbank and Saudi Arabia’s Vision Fund. At its highest point, WeWork was reportedly valued at $47 billion.
The company, however, went through a sudden crash in 2019, between the company’s hard-partying culture and Neumann’s highly questionable business plans. He was pushed out, on the eve of a planned IPO. But ironically, even if none of that had happened, there still would have been a pandemic, commercial real estate still would have collapsed, and WeWork may have been dead in the water anyway.
Neumann is not a criminal or fraudster like Holmes and has never been charged with any crimes. He has, however, blown billions of dollars, suffered personal disgrace, and engaged in some of the worst corporate governance in the history of business.
The story was previously the subject of an underwhelming documentary, WeWork: The Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn, that debuted at last year’s South by Southwest and landed on Hulu shortly afterward. Much like John Carreyrou’s Bad Blood for Theranos, Reeves Wiedeman’s Billion Dollar Loser is the definitive book about WeWork, which conveyed the craziness of the company in a way the documentary couldn’t.
In its early going, at least, WeCrashed is much better done than the documentary.
2. Jared Leto, going all out
Leto is known as one of the more intense actors working today, and stories of his bizarre on-set behavior are legion. His performance last year as Paolo Gucci in House of Gucci was so wildly over-the-top that it practically collapsed the distinction between good and bad acting. Leto was nominated for “good” acting awards, including from the Critics Choice and Screen Actors Guild Awards, and also for a Razzie, both for that role.
The performance as Neumann isn’t nearly as over-the-top, but Leto still channels the real man’s wild energy. Leto is neither Jewish nor Israeli, is about 15 years older than Neumann was when he founded WeWork and is six inches shorter than the famously tall former CEO. But none of that bothered me after about five minutes.
The actor reportedly hired a team of five Israelis to help him master the accent; there’s no telling how many Italians were required to help him learn that accent for House of Gucci.
3. Anne Hathaway is back
Anne Hathaway, for whatever reason, likely related to her having small children, hasn’t been acting much the last few years. She was in just one movie in 2021 — the forgettable early pandemic film Locked Down — just two in 2020 and has just one scheduled this year or beyond. It’s been even longer, probably going back to the 2019 curio Serenity, since she last had a meaty role.
That streak ends with WeCrashed, in which Hathaway plays Rebekah Neumann, the CEO’s wife, who ended up taking a hugely active role in the company. A cousin of Gwyneth Paltrow and sometime actress, Rebekah would even reportedly fire people for Fengshui-related reasons.
A few years ago, around the time of her Oscar-winning role in Les Miserables about a decade ago, a lot of people decided they hated Anne Hathaway for some reason. This was always unfair, ridiculous, and more than a little sexist. But Hathaway has always been a talented actress with ridiculous range, and she’s more than up to playing this part.
4. Threading the needle
Shows and movies about the business world, especially in the tech world, have a difficult needle to thread because audiences are going to approach them with wildly divergent viewpoints. Some watching the show will see the subjects of the show as creative visionaries and entrepreneur heroes, while others will see them as greedy, amoral fat cats. This will especially be a challenge if, say, there’s ever a biopic about Elon Musk.
The key is to make the show compelling enough to appeal to both sides of that divide. HBO’s Silicon Valley, in particular, mastered that, as does Showtime’s Billions. WeCrashed seems to nail that as well, at least in the early going.
It also helps that none of the principals cooperated with the show, and it’s not filtered through their perspective.
5. It’s got enough
WeCrashed is an eight-part series, with the first three debuting on March 18 and one a week arriving each Friday through April 22.
A lot of limited series like this end up stretching ridiculously to get to a larger-than-needed episode count. Some of these might have been better as movies, and fun as Inventing Anna was, it could have been six or seven episodes instead of ten.
WeCrashed, however, has enough to its story to justify eight hours. And we also know that there’s no way there will be a second season since the story is essentially done.Watch WeCrashed Now Streaming