About halfway through eight episodes of Apple TV+ We crashed, an investor named Cameron (OT Fagbenle) shares with fellow Benchmark Capital Bruce (Anthony Edwards) his skepticism of WeWork’s high-cost business model. “We’ve seen this movie before, haven’t we? Cameron points out. “So what’s different this time?” »
Bruce is firm in his response, insisting that it’s Adam (Jared Leto), the company’s incredibly ambitious and uniquely magnetic co-founder, who makes all the difference. But it’s Cameron’s words that will prove more prescient. We to have Seen this story before, detailed in actual Neumann reporting or taken up in other recent mini-series about shadowy and corporate fraud. We crashed makes a reasonably entertaining re-enactment relishing in the absurdity of Neumann’s worst impulses, but doesn’t have much to add to the beats we already know by heart.
Fun but ultimately inessential.
Created by Drew Crevello and Lee Eisenberg, with episodes directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (Crazy, Stupid, Love), Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini (American Splendor, Things Heard and Seen) and more, We crashed follows a familiar formula of rise and fall, tracing Neumann’s journey from a restless “serial entrepreneur” selling baby clothes and collapsible high heels to the world-renowned CEO of a theoretically-valued company from $47 billion, until its rapid decline in notoriety after a disastrous IPO filing exposed the worst excesses of the culture of WeWork and Adam himself.
Unusually enough, it’s also a love story. Every step of the way, standing right next to it, is Rebekah (Anne Hathaway) – sometimes eagerly amplifying her brilliance, sometimes resentfully standing in her shadow.
Adam is a gifted bullshit himself, blessed with rock-solid confidence, endless persistence, and a knack for convincing everyone to do the hard work. “Every great business story has an all-nighter,” he gleefully tells co-founder Miguel McKelvey (Kyle Marvin) at the start of their partnership, before going home to bed and letting Miguel prepare the day’s 17-page pitch. on the next day. Leto’s relentless energy makes it clear how Adam could wear down even those who thought they were smart enough to know better, while his dark contact lenses have the odd (and perhaps unintended) effect of making Adam look soulless.
But as said in We crashed, Adam and Rebekah’s relationship is the foundation upon which the best and worst — especially the worst — of WeWork is built. It’s Rebekah who first encourages Adam to pursue his passion for chasing the world, who restores his self-esteem to full health when he experiences a rare moment of insecurity, who convinces him it’s time for WeWork to expand into private education with WeGrow.
Hathaway resists the temptation to turn Rebekah into an exaggerated caricature of a guy titled woo-woo, which ultimately only makes Rebekah funnier: the only thing more ridiculous than Rebekah spouting a line like “I a m the soul of the business,” is Rebekah almost moving to tears with her own depth as she puts it.
Adam and Rebekah tend to indulge in each other’s most ridiculous impulses, and as WeWork swells in value and reputation, the pair yes and each other in a permanent galactic brain state. Sober strangers might point out that their business is struggling, but for them that’s not the point: “WeWork isn’t a business, it’s a feeling,” they insist.
We crashed plays the pair’s nonsense completely without blinking or nudging, leaving us in the audience to blink or scream or shake our heads in disbelief when, for example, they persuade each other to throw away the mandatory S-1 documents prepared by their attorneys and replace them with what Cameron scathingly calls “a children’s book.” Obnoxious as Rebekah and Adam meet, it’s easy to see what drew them to each other. In their own way, they are a perfect match.
We crashed, which is based on Wondery’s podcast, does rather less well in demonstrating what attracted everyone to the business, or what held them back as more and more red flags began to appear. For example: That Adam has cult-like control over his workforce is evident in scenes where he leads chants at weekly booze-fueled “Thank God it’s Monday” meetings. But why these employees are so attached to a company they explicitly describe as “a very bad place to work, especially if you’re a woman” is barely explored, beyond a few vague nods to the shiny culture and toxic hustle and bustle of the early-to-mid 2010s that WeWork (and Adam) exemplified so perfectly.
It’s also unclear for most series how Adam got away with it for as long as he did by tricking ostensibly experienced businessmen like Bruce. Besides, it’s not clear for most series even What he got away with it, since We crashed fails to explain the more damning details of Adam’s shady business practices – such as his habit of buying buildings to rent to his own company – until very late.
And like so many dramas ripped from the headlines, We crashed struggles when it comes to delivering grander takeout after all the time he’s spent dwelling on the details of recent history. In the wreckage of WeWork’s failed IPO, Cameron berates the company’s young employees for tricking themselves into buying Adam’s nonsense about ‘raising the consciousness of the world’ by renting office space — which seems more than a little rich when it was Cameron’s venture capitalist colleagues who helped inflate WeWork’s reputation to such dangerous proportions in the first place.
Maybe it’s just that there isn’t much else to say, at least about the weird-romance version of the story that We crashed is revealing. The real saga of Adam Neumann and WeWork came to an unsatisfactory end in 2019, with Adam (er, spoilers for real life?) losing his business but walking away with more money than most of us have. will see in our lifetime. Even fiction cannot go so far as to correct a reality as confusing as this.