Television Review: “WeCrashed” — A Not-So-Funny Dark Comedy About Capitalism Run Aground

By Henry Chandonnet

WeCrashed, Apple TV+

The show never grapples with the casualties of corporate crashes because it would mean critiquing a system that is making a lot of people at the top rich (looking at you, Apple).

Jared Leto and Anne Hathaway in WeCrashed. Photo: AppleTV

The popular infatuation with watching stories about corporations that crash and burn has run its course. There was always something distasteful about our rubber-necking at oversized capitalist delusions biting the dust. Yes, the ultra greedy sometimes get theirs, and their riches-to-rags comeuppance serves as a morality tale for those anxious to startup the next con. But thousands of employees are also left out in the cold. And the message — hubris doesn’t pay — has been delivered so often that, by now, what is the point of going through the dismantling of the grift yet again? AppleTV’s WeCrashed falls into this tired category, retelling the story of WeWork’s founding and ultimate demolition. It reeks of laziness; there’s little interest in nuance or bite. It seems the creators were so bored with the genre they couldn’t spend the time to adequately condemn the scammers. So the series ends up praising what it means to mock.

WeCrashed is the hyperbolic story of Adam and Rebekah Neuman, whose relationship and company come together and fall apart at supersonic speed. Adam (Jared Leto) is portrayed as a big-dreaming entrepreneur, an egomaniac who likes to play hard. Rebekah (Anne Hathaway) is a study in contrast, her poised pretension racing so far into the outer reaches of new-age thought that she falls off a cliff.  Though the grisly fate of WeWork is at the center of the narrative, the writers attempt to shed some psychological light on our protagonists. As hapless profiteers go, Adam and Rebekah are charismatic enough to generate some empathy and curiosity. And that is good, because without the pair WeCrashed would be nothing but a gauche, empty tale about how wheeling-and-dealing creates human suffering.

And that is the problem with the supposed fascination of business failure stories: the casualties. In one of its more harrowing scenes, WeWork executives are forced to lay off almost a tenth of the company’s employees. To boost morale, the higher-ups hire Run-DMC to perform for the remaining workers. As the fired are packing their belongings and heading out, we see others taking tequila shots and screaming out lyrics to the songs. That’s supposed to be funny? Tell that to those unemployed.

What’s lost in the farce is that the Neumanns and their partners cast aside aside their workers without a thought. The show never grapples with the casualties of corporate crashes because it would mean critiquing a system that is making a lot of people at the top rich (looking at you, Apple). There is no savaging of the bosses or commentary on a system that allows for this kind of top-down executive malpractice. Adam and Rebekah Neuman end up mostly fine, though their get-rich plans did not turn out as they had hoped. They did not go to jail or face massive losses. The series would have been much more compelling if they or others had been faced with the consequences of their actions. Even some commentary on the inequities of the situation would have made a difference. Why were the Neumanns  and others able to get away with what they did? WeCrashed is mum on the issue of responsibility.

In terms of the performances, Anne Hathaway gives Rebekah, who is written as a fabricated and insincere caricature, refreshing nuance. The battle between Rebekah and Elishia Kennedy (America Ferrera) is set-up as a somewhat chauvinistic cat-fight, but Hathaway’s emotional commitment makes it more than that. Even better, Hathaway provides the series with some much needed camp and self-irony. In the final moments of the last episode, Rebekah runs into the Dead Sea screaming “the money!” It is an obvious allusion to genre-titan Laura Dern and her iconic “I will not not be rich” speech in Big Little Lies. That spark is an impressive testament to Hathaway’s talent: even cast in an unfunny, overblown show, she can bring some refinement and much-needed humor.

As for Leto, he is fine. He plays the crazed CEO in his customarily captivating style. Still, news of Leto’s off-screen behavior overshadows the series. Every public rumor sours our perception of him, from how difficult he is to work with and his alleged preference for much younger girls to his incessant homages to the joy of method acting. WeCrashed is supposed to be about how corporate malpractice and poor working conditions are undercutting American business. Leto’s behavior smacks of the same privileged environment that the show is supposed to be critiquing (albeit ineffectively). The result is a lingering, inescapable smell of hypocrisy — and celebrity exploitation.

The fall of WeWork, and other corporate crashes, can make for powerful drama when handled right. For example, in the The Dropout, a recent series about the Theranos scandal, in-depth storytelling and moral specificity came together for a compelling study of the wreckage left by the collapse of grandiose money-making dreams and its impact of the lives of those involved. Real-life corporate scandal shows have become a dime a dozen. WeCrashed proves what happens when show-runners take the cheap way out.

Henry Chandonnet is a current student at Tufts University double majoring in English and Political Science with a minor in Economics. On-campus, he is an Arts Editor for The Tufts Daily, the preeminent student-run campus publication. You can reach out to him at, or follow him on Twitter @HenryChandonnet.

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