“WeCrashed,” the Apple miniseries, is a supernova with a lot of flares. Jared Leto plays the WeWork CEO, Adam Neumann, and Anne Hathway portrays the character of his wife, Rebekah Paltrow Neumann, who is also the Chief Brand and Impact Officer at WeWork. The series has been adapted from the podcast “WeCrashed: The Rise and Fall of WeWork.”
The prolific actors give us an insight into the dynamics shared by Adam and Rebekah as a couple and also into their individual, unconventional inspirations. “WeCrashed” is an almost perfect blend of stillness and chaos that never reaches a plateau, and things never seem dreary in this world. Though it charts the events that led to the rise and fall of one of the most potential startups of the United States, along the way, it also tells us about the characters who were involved in the whole fiasco. The psyche of any character is never stated explicitly, but you infer it by looking at the intricacies of the performance that acts as a trail which leads you to the subconscious level.
“WeCrashed” strikes you with its vivacity and exuberance. The writing and the direction are able to create an immersive experience that does not lose out on the essence of the narrative while trying to be commercially viable.
Major Spoilers Ahead
‘WeCrashed’ Episode 1,2 And 3 – Recap
The series opens in 2019 with the board of directors passing a motion that mandates Adam Neumann to step down from the post of CEO of WeWork. They ask for Adam to be woken up from his slumber and demand his presence in the office. An article had come out in the Wall Street Journal stating that Adam Neumann was, in fact, the company’s biggest liability. Adam thought that the board was going to kill the IPO, and, as he and Rebekah had taken 380 million dollars out against their shares, he got paranoid even before entering the meeting room. It comes as a shock to him that they were not after the IPO but him.
The narrative of “WeCrashed” takes us back 12 years to a time when Adam was still trying to get funding for his various businesses. Nothing seemed to be working at that time. From onesies with knee pads for babies to collapsible heels for women, Adam was ready to sell anything and everything. He called himself a serial entrepreneur. His business ideas weren’t taking him anywhere, but he had a knack for solving problems with his intriguing and innovative techniques. His limited resources never stopped him from believing in his dreams. His pockets were empty, and his life was directionless when he met Rebekah.
But much like his business pitches, he was not going to take no from her, even if it meant embarrassing himself on a date where he came 45 minutes late and without a single penny in his pocket. He storms into Rebekah’s yoga class the next day, goes straight to the owner of their classes, and demands to give Rebekah a hike and stop keeping all the profits for himself.
Rebekah eventually starts dating him and gives him a piece of advice that no one had ever given him. She tells him to sell the thing that he cares about. Adam tells her that, growing up, he always loved the feeling of staying in a kibbutz. That’s where the idea for WeWork popped up. Adam thought that if the joy of communal living that he felt in the kibbutz was brought to workplaces as well, then it would change the perspective of the people. They would never see workplaces as boring cubicles surrounded by mundane concrete walls. More than a shared workplace, the concept was to sell an experience.
Adam offers Miguel Mckelvey to be his partner. Miguel was from the same business class that Adam also attended, and had once graciously offered him a place to start his business. Miguel agrees, and they start finding investors straightaway. They went to the landlord, Randall, who owned the space in which they used to work. They prepare a pitch overnight, and the landlord comes on board. The initiative is called Greendesk.
It was a great start, but Adam realizes that he is still not where he wanted to be. He pitches Randall the idea of expanding Greendesk to Manhattan. He knew that Randall would not agree to an expansion. He wanted him to buy out Greendesk, which he did. They start hunting for potential investors and, after a lot of hustle, are able to fix a meeting with Yevgeni Risakov. Yevgeni Risakov not only gives them space, but also assures them that he would bring 50 million dollars on board, as he was impressed by their concept. Later they come to know that Yevgeni was not a man of his word, and often made such kind of promises to people.
Adam marries Rebekah, and the one million dollar cheque that was given as a gift from Rebekah’s father is used by Adam to renovate the space that he bought from Yevgeni. It was a big risk, but as they say, fortune favors the brave. Adam is able to bring Bruce Dunlevie of Benchmark Capital on board and also convince Stavros Gatakis, President of Gatakis Property, to invest in his venture. Meanwhile, Rebekah tries to find her footing in the acting world, but eventually decides to quit the struggle as she feels that the field was not meant for her. WeWork started in full swing, and there was no looking back for Adam and Miguel.
“WeCrashed” episode 3 takes us deeper into the psychology of the characters, especially Rebekah’s. She had a brother named Keith Paltrow, who had died due to cancer. As she puts it, she stopped eating meat post his death, and her father stopped living. Her father had opened a charity named the American Cancer Research Fund, which was accused of defrauding the victims. Rebekah is reminded of that case when she is asked by her father to write a character reference as he is stuck in yet another legal matter.
Adam and Rebekah were at Lake Raquette in New York for the summer camp organized by WeWork, where all the employees were also invited. Rebekah, stressed by her father’s legal troubles, ends up saying something that hurts the sentiments of a lot of women. She says that a big part of being a woman was to help men manifest their dreams. She starts getting a lot of slack from the young employees present on the scene and also on social media. A reporter named Damian Saito, who had come to cover the fest, gets the perfect headline for his gossip column. But Rebekah puts herself together and takes care of the whole situation. She offers the reporter a job at WeWork and fires Vanesa, who was supposed to handle the reporter but was unable to do so.
Was Rebekah’s Father A Fraudster?
Rebekah’s father, Bob Paltrow, had been accused of embezzling funds earlier. When she was a teenager, she had heard it when the judge made her father say, “I am a fraud.” That moment stayed with Rebekah. She could never forget it. Her own father, who had done so much for the family, was being accused publicly. In the end, her father comes down to the summer camp, as he was getting anxious about the character reference that he needed Rebekah to write. He tells Rebekah that he has brought an extremely expensive wine for her.
Later, she finds out that he had stuck another label over the original one, and that it was not an expensive wine. It was never about the wine being expensive or cheap. It was about a deeply embedded habit. It was in his nature to lie. Though she writes the character reference, she realizes that he might not be as innocent as she perceived him to be.
Rebekah was also holding onto some fear. She was scared that one day everybody would leave her. Her mother had left her. Her brother, in whom she confided, met his fate, and her boyfriend, too, had left her for her best friend. With all the legal trouble surrounding her father, she was in a messed up state. But amidst all this chaos, she had one thing working for her. She had a person who was ready to stick with her for life. He was ready to support her in her endeavors. She could rely on him. That man was her husband, Adam Neumann.
Adam’s image was of this wild, impulsive, and eccentric hippie, who walked the city barefoot and woke up to a bong hit. Sometimes it felt like he was just using everybody for his personal gains. For him, everything was business. But that was not the case. Yes, he was passionate about WeWork, but he equally treasured his family and a few people who meant a lot to him. Rebekah wants to make things better for herself and her family. She goes on stage and justifies her statement that she had made earlier, which had made her look like somebody who vouched for a patriarchal society. The crowd cheered for her, and maybe it was the first step towards her journey of becoming the Chief Brand and Impact Officer at WeWork.
“WeCrashed” is a 2022 Biopic Drama Series created by Drew Crevello and Lee Eisenberg.