If there is a market for a product, someone is bound to find a way to make money off of it. Nothing is more true than in Showtime’s new original series Super Pumped. Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as the CEO and co-founder of rideshare company Uber, Travis Kalanick. With the success of films like The Social Network and fascination with figures such as Elon Musk, it was only a matter of time before this story was told. Showtime had previously released a teaser trailer for Super Pumped, but the new trailer demonstrates just how far Uber’s founder was willing to go in pursuit of the company.
In the new trailer for Super Pumped, Joseph Gordon-Levitt portrays Travis Kalanick as passionate, confident, and unrelenting while he is creating one of the most utilized companies in the modern world. The idea of Uber is almost a no-brainer now with many similar companies such as Lyft. But the trailer implies that none of this could be possible without Kalanick’s outrageous personality and refusal to back down. Also featured is Kalanick’s mentor Bill Gurley (Kyle Chandler). Gurley admits in the trailer that Kalanick’s drive is what will make the company successful. However, it is also his greatest vulnerability. Uma Thurman is also featured as Ariana Huffington, Uber board member and also the founder of The Huffington Post (via Entertainment Weekly). Check out Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the trailer for Super Pumped.
Super Pumped will be an anthology series and is based on the book of the same name by Mike Isaac. The book was a best seller and had a main focus on the turbulent relationship between Kalanick and Gurney. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s portrayal of the aggressive and unrepentant founder does not seem to be that far off from the truth. Since Uber’s founding in 2009, the company has been embroiled in a myriad of controversies. By all accounts, this has to do with Kalanick’s personality. Uber as a company is a direct mirror of how it engaged with the world which ultimately led to him stepping down from the company in 2017 (via The Verge).
It is unclear if Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s show will go into the details of every complaint against the company. Among many issues involving Uber included allegations of sexual harassment and intellectual property theft. One of the most concerning accounts was that of former engineer Susan Fowler. The former employee of Uber only lasted a year at the company but stated that from day one, she was made to feel uncomfortable by the work culture. Tech companies are familiar with these practices. The Verge points out that Silicon Valley was especially guilty of sexism in the workplace. Fowler detailed the inappropriate nature of the work environment and how her manager continued to berate her with intimate details of his sex life unprompted.
Even if these details aren’t specifically referenced in Showtime’s Super Pumped, there is likely to be many controversial details depicted in the show. Joseph Gordon-Levitt initially became notable in his career for indie contributions such as Rian Johnson’s Brick as well as larger action franchises such as Robin for DC. His appearance as the larger-than-life character is sure to gain audiences when Super Pumped airs on Showtime on February 27th.