The WeWork series starts off conventionally, but builds in complexity
The spate of start-up bust stories seems to have come to a momentary end after the slew of shows airing at the same time have released their final episodes. We got one on Theranos (The Dropout (2022)), on Uber (Super Pumped (2022-), and WeWork (WeCrashed (2022)) this latter one surprisingly coming from another start-up itself: Apple.
WeCrashed follows the rise and eventual fall of Adam Neuman (Jared Leto) an Israeli entrepreneur who revolutionized the shared-workspace industry in the 2010s with his smart branding and business aesthetic. We see how Adam begins to rise through the industry through his free-wheeling and unconventional methods, meeting his wife and frequent collaborator Rebekah (Anne Hathaway) and how their unique view of their company and the world inevitably hits up against the brick wall of capitalism.
WeCrashed comes from Drew Crevello and Lee Eisenberg. This is the first writing credit from Crevello, who has previously only produced such films as The Grudge 2 (2006). Eisenberg is the TV veteran of this duo having not only worked on the American version of The Office (2005-2011), but also with Apple TV+ in one of their most acclaimed and underseen series Little America (2020). The duo seems to take on a rather conventional approach to telling this true story, following the similar beats of a genius whom no one understood, who slowly begins to break big. It seemed at first that Crevello and Eisenberg weren’t interested in indulging into the crazy personalities of the two protagonists, but as the context of their story is set, we do begin to uncover layers.
Curiously, it is not so much Adam who interests WeCrashed, but Rebekah. This may be in part because of Hathaway’s ability to play dualities of a self-assured guru as well as a deeply insecure woman. Hathaway does a fantastic job in portraying a character who is lost within her own identity and has a contradictory relationship in helping WeWork both help others in her same situation as well as condemn them. WeCrashed sticks with her increasingly with each episode to the point that she could arguably be the lead by the end. Leto’s Adam, meanwhile, is the typical eccentric character that the American actor loves to portray. However, as with many of Leto’s recent roles, his love for imitation and characterization goes deeper than the desire to explore who Adam is. This disappointed me throughout much of the series, until the final two episodes where Leto is finally given scenes to navigate Adam’s anxious and vulnerable side. More moments like these littered throughout the series would have helped make Adam not just a caricature, but a flawed intriguing character as well.
I appreciated that WeCrashed was not taking on a straight black-and-white approach to its fallen idols or company. With WeCrashed Crevello and Eisenberg aren’t so much laughing and ridiculing WeWork’s initial ideology, as trying to understand where such a worldview is coming from. As such, WeCrashed achieves a difficult balance of both acknowledging the fraud and exploitative methods used by Adam and Rebekah, while also admiring the beauty and ambition of their vision. It is a refreshing take on these corporate series, where there is no clear-cut villain, only Icarian dreams.
In the end, WeCrashed started as one of the lesser start-up series of the spring, but has grown in complexity and character depth with each successive episode to become one of the strongest. The great work from Hathaway and the always bonkers Leto do enough to make WeCrashed an informative and enlightening watch.