Startup crash dramas on the rise

31 March, 2022

In the past two months there has been a string of new dramas based on real life stories.  Notably, three current series focus on famous downfalls in the tech world - The DropoutSuper Pumped, and WeCrashed.  Other recent shows like Pam & Tommy and Inventing Anna have similarly dramatized true crime stories.  All of these series are not only based on actual events but specifically adapt stories that had been told in other media, whether a book (Super Pumped), an article (Inventing AnnaPam & Tommy), or a podcast (The DropoutWeCrashed).


So far in the recent “tech crash genre”, The Dropout has had the most successful premiere, peaking at over 20 times the average series demand.  However, three weeks into its season, demand for The Dropout is showing signs of dropping off.  Contrast this with Super Pumped which has had consistent weekly growth in demand throughout its season so far and looks set to surpass The Dropout.  Meanwhile, a week into its season,  WeCrashed is tracking somewhere between where the other two series were at the same point.  

All these series have invested in A-list talent to draw fans in.  By tracking the talent demand for these leads we can see which actors are bringing the most star power to a project and which are themselves benefitting from increased exposure.  Amanda Seyfried and Naveen Andrews have seen the clearest increase in interest following the premiere of The Dropout.  In particular Naveen Andrews has been boosted to a new level of awareness by the show.


Demand for Joseph Gordon-Levitt has actually remained relatively flat since the premiere of Super Pumped indicating he is doing more to attract attention to the series than the series is boosting interest in him.  Anne Hathaway has the highest demand among these leads and should help drive demand for WeCrashed with her star power.  Meanwhile, demand for Jared Leto has been steadily climbing due to multiple projects he’s involved with.  Not the least is Marvel’s Morbius which will premiere on April 1st.

Series like these have found a winning strategy: Pick a proven piece of IP to adapt; blend factual based-on-a-true-story elements with the pull of a compelling drama; add the suspense of a true-crime story (no murder, keep it white collar) and the schadenfreude of the rich and famous getting their just deserts; finally top it off with some serious star power.  While this formula for success should stand the test of time it remains to be seen if the Silicon Valley crash-and-burn subgenre is a lasting trend or just another bubble.

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