Is there a limit to how many rise and fall startup stories networks and streaming services greenlight?
not yet. Following “Super Pumped” and “The Dropout,” the stories of Theranos Uber and Elizabeth Holmes’ follies, comes “WeCrashed.” On Apple TV+ March 18 is an eight-episode series based on Wondery’s podcast (“The Dropout”) about WeWork.
What’s next? “History of MySpace?” (in fact…)
They’re all variations on the same theme: some terrifyingly driven person gets a great idea and pursues it in search of success, including friendship and loyalty.
Why would anyone want to see another one of these?
Leto and Hathaway don’t hold back on their pictures.
Two reasons, actually: Jared Leto and Anne Hathaway. The story wanders all over the place – characters who seem crucial to the story first disappear for great distances and then return without any impact.
But Leto is doing his Leto thing as Adam Neumann, the co-founder of WeWork — going all in and immersing himself in his usual ways (and I mean looking amazing and menacingly like Tom Hiddleston as Loki). What it lacks in subtlety it makes up for in sincerity.
And yes, there’s an accent — Neumann spent part of his childhood on an Israeli kibbutz — but nothing over the top like Paolo Gucci in the “House of Gucci.” As big as his performance here is, it’s positively restrained in comparison.
Hathaway plays Newman’s wife, Rebecca, and nails the casual brutality of the entitled. When she told Newman on the low level that the money wasn’t important, she replied that the only people he could talk to were the ones he always had. (She has it. He doesn’t have it.)
Neumann is a serial entrepreneur by his own description. We see some of its early failures, like tiny pants for babies with knee pads and women’s dress shoes with collapsible heels.
He is still selling products as a business student at Baroque College, but he is selling himself. He meets Miguel McKelvin (Kyle Marvin) and hits on the idea of shared office spaces. The original company was called Green Desk. They moved to acquire WeWork, and a pattern emerged: Neumann wanted more.
McKelvey is more cautious and more subdued (as is Marvin’s performance). But Neumann is poised to become the biggest owner of real estate in New York City, which means more investors to court, more banks to court, more opportunities to sell his vision — again, he’s selling himself.
‘WeCrashed’, like most startup stories, is ultimately about ego.
WeWork will become a cult. “Thank God it’s Monday!” They sing as they say. At the beginning of the week, he worked for minimum wage with the vague promise of one day going public. Neuman hosts “summer camps” wild parties with musical performances.
Rebecca is considered the soul of the association, oblivious to the stubbornness of her colleagues. She fires workers for “bad labor.” For all her talk of saving the world, she is ruthlessly vengeful. (America Ferrera is a successful friend who learned this the hard way.)
She doesn’t know what real life is like either. Inevitably failing when she starts a crappy private school, she tells angry parents to just start their own school.
(Interesting side note: Anthony Edwards has long appeared as a trusted mentor; he played the same role in “The Dropout.” He seems to have a gift for acting.)
There’s a point in all these stories where you want to grab the main character by the neck and shake them awake and look around. Self-esteem and greed overshadows any normal human behavior until they destroy their own dreams and look outside. Sometimes it’s billions in the bank, sometimes it’s jail time. But it’s always outside.
In the end you could give all these series the same title: “Ego.
It is the tragedy of the times.
Premieres on Apple TV+ March 18.
Reach Goodykoontz at firstname.lastname@example.org. Facebook: facebook.com/GoodyOnFilm. Twitter: @goodyk. Sign up for the weekly movie newsletter.
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