WeCrashed tells the story of WeWork, a company founded by Adam Neumann and Rebekah Neumann and how they finessed and scammed their way into turning a single co-working space into a global brand worth $47 billion before seeing its valuation plummet in the lead up to a failed IPO when a full audit uncovered their excess spending, lieing and over-inflated egos.
Advertised as a love story first and a rise and fall second, neither are fair descriptions. In fact, initially I wanted to call this series a fable of how not to do business, but fables normally end with consequences for unsavoury actions and a teachable moment. Those who are well versed in the true story of WeWork and its founders will be aware of the unsatisfactory conclusion.
Based on Wondery’s limited podcast series of the same name WeCrashed attempts to tell the story of the infamous workplace through the love story of its insufferable founders over eight drawn-out episodes. It’s a curious choice to ignore the criminally underpaid staff, the multiple lawsuits around sexual harassment and discrimination, or the “frat boy” culture so prevalent at WeWork in favour of an ego-maniacal scammer and a failed actress and business-woman from generational wealth who’s greatest struggle in life was living in the shadow of her successful actress-entrepeuner cousin Gwyneth Paltrow.
Whilst I’m clearly not a fan of either of the real-life personalities at the centre of the show, I am a fan of Jared Leto and Anne Hathaway who work the material from series creators Lee Eisenberg and Drew Crevello into stellar performances worthy of their respective career highlight reels. Jared Leto, complete with prosthetic nose, contacts and accent - which more than makes up for last years House of Gucci shenanigans - delivers a performance as infuriating and draining as it is intoxicating. A tour-de-force of absurd shithousery paired with a charisma that is far too flattering to the real life person - see post credits during the finale for the real life Adam Neumann and compare.
Anne Hathaway’s depiction of Rebekah turns in another strong performance from the Academy Award winner and whether intentional or not, you will laugh and cringe on the rare occasions that Hathaway acts up and feels comfortable enough to embrace the ridiculous. From Rebekah’s cringe Russian accent during an intense pressure situation to her straight-faced delivery of the WeGrow mission statement for educating conscious entrepeunership to toddlers “from birth to death” its hard not to watch - even if its through your fingers. That said, the one thing neither Hathaway nor Leto can do is make the audience feel sympathy for either, and it’s that failed ambition that ultimately sees the limited series fall short.
Over a running-time that spans close to eight hours I learnt little about WeWork that I didn’t know from the Hulu documentary that came before. That’s maybe because the true story from which the show gets its source material is actually unremarkable. That may also be the reason the series creators decided to gawk and fetishise two con-artists rather than make a unique statement about the whole sorry affair. An affair that left employees to pick up the pieces whilst the couple negotiated themselves a $1.6 billion buy-out.
In moments where WeCrashed focuses on those employees and ordinary people swept up in the cult of WeWork, Eisenberg and Crevello find something interesting to say. It’s with regret that those moments feel too few and far between.
'WeCrashed' premieres globally on Apple TV+ Friday March 18th with the first three episodes. Each subsequent episode will premiere on Fridays through April 22nd.