- WeCrashed focuses on the tensions of the growth of the enterprise while maintaining the “soul of the company.”
- All and all, WeCrashed is a fun ride for folks in the world of shared office space who have been inundated with headlines of WeWork’s tremulous journey for the last decade.
- In the end, WeCrashed did what WeWork has always done for the industry; put a giant spotlight on coworking and then dominated that light.
The idea of a coworking space being the focus of a major television event is, well, unheard of. But then again as said early in the show, “It’s not a coworking space. It’s more. It’s a lifestyle.”
The new Apple+ limited series WeCrashed followed that idea as its storyline, using the creation of the world’s largest coworking brand merely as the backdrop to the personal stories of the company’s infamous founder.
Nevertheless, just hearing the word coworking on a major streaming service was pretty exciting for a lot of folks in an industry who get excited when “coworking” appears in print without a hyphen.
From all accounts, WeCrashed seems to be a fairly accurate telling of the rise and fall of the We Company unicorn. The show gives small nods to a few other coworking pioneers and acknowledges that coworking was a growing movement before WeWork arrived.
It also did not shy away from illustrating some of the notoriously ruthless tactics WeWork used to lure members away from other spaces. Coworking of course continues to grow and thrive around the world as WeWork has shifted, shrunk, shifted again, at last gone public, and edged forward as a leader once more.
The series draws in the audience by skimming past the growth of coworking and the thrilling nuances of commercial real estate to focus on the personal lives of bigger than life WeWork Founder, Adam Neumann (Jared Leto) and wife, err cofounder, Rebekah Paltrow Neumann (Anne Hathaway).
Jared’s accent aside, the two academy award winning actors’ wonderful performances give the characters depth and vulnerability and still allows for a healthy amount of cringe and disdain.
WeCrashed focuses on the tensions of the growth of the enterprise while maintaining the “soul of the company.” This would be a tremendous moral tale if not for the contrast of the company’s actions and culture with its mission statement.
At times, WeCrashed paints Adam as debaucherously reckless and teases the idea that he’s a con artist. This is in stark contrast to the image conjured up by Rebekah as the We Company is somehow simultaneously “lifting the world’s consciousness.”
This comes to a head when both lavish (HR absent) tequila-fueled raves are declared as a necessary business expense amid the extravagant attempt at launching the holistic elementary school, WeGrow.
WeWork Cofounder Miguel McKelvey (Kyle Marvin) comes away from the series rather unscathed, except for a mild assault on his real-life charisma. Portrayed as dedicated, responsible, and detailed-oriented, he’s in many ways the opposite of Adam, although highlighted by a sheepish lack of bravado. A point is made to show his frugality, lest we forget he ended up with an estimated $900 million as well.
Even as backdrop, the evolution of the workspaces featured captured the energy WeWork strived to create. Many of the energetic common areas were highlighted. Many of the features that have become synonymous with coworking and startups in general were on full display like kombucha on tap, beanbag lounge areas, and of course, ping pong tables.
Filled with happy faces collaborating and mingling, the spaces were often a wonderful glimpse of how great work/life in a flourishing coworking community can be. Missing, of course, were the long narrow tunnels of small dense fishbowl offices that would also become synonymous with the WeWork experience in later expansions.
A viewer quick on the remote may have paused to see the WeCompany dream projects listed on a mobile whiteboard; a glimpse at perhaps dozens of other WeBrands that included anything from WeAirlines to WeSurf.
The set designers showed true constraint by not adding their own equally frivolous brands like perhaps WeChurch, WeSubmarine, WeWeed, WeOuija board, or any other number of made-up projects no more preposterous than the actual ventures proposed or attempted.
All and all, WeCrashed is a fun ride for folks in the world of shared office space who have been inundated with headlines of WeWork’s tremulous journey for the last decade.
The acting is (of course) wonderful, the sets do justice to the WeWork vibe, and the characters manage to have us both cheering for and against them at the same time; a great portrait of excess and good intentions and the entrepreneurial spirit taken to the extreme.
In the end, WeCrashed did what WeWork has always done for the industry; put a giant spotlight on coworking and then dominated that light.