Joseph Gordon-Levitt has a lot of modes, but my favorite might be “smiley but untrustworthy scumbag”. He doesn’t do it often, but every once in a while, you get a Don Jon or a Hesher out of him, and damn, I love it every time. So of course, I am all in on Super Pumped, an upcoming limited series in which JGL plays Travis Kalanick, the former CEO of Uber who was ousted for classic scumbag behavior like ignoring reports of sexual harassment at his company. I am here for JGL going full Smiley Scumbag on the legacy of Travis Kalanick, a guy who got to walk away with billions after nurturing one of the most garbage corporate cultures of the 2010s. Yes, please, give me an entire television series devoted to telling this tale. Also, Kyle Chandler and Uma Thurman are in it, two more major reasons to watch.
Even though Uber is not a scam, there’s something about this series that sticks in my mind in the same corner as The Dropout, the Hulu series centered on Elizabeth Holmes starring Amanda Seyfried, and Inventing Anna, the Netflix series about scammer Anna Delvy starring Julia Garner. Maybe it’s because Travis Kalanick always struck that untrustworthy con man chord with me, or maybe it’s something about all those years of reports of Uber losing money hand over fist, yet Kalanick made billions when he sold most of his shares in the company in 2019. Or maybe it’s because Uber was blowing up around the same time as Theranos, an actual scam, and WeWork, another wildly overvalued company using tech buzzwords to reinvent the wheel (it’s just a corporate leasing company, for all the fancy branding). It also doesn’t help that all these shows are coming out around the same time. Inventing Anna drops February 11, Super Pumped starts February 27, and The Dropout drops on March 3. The next couple months are going to be heavy on the garbage corporate culture and scams of the 2010s. Whee?