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Series / Super Pumped

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Every surge comes at a price.

Super Pumped is an American Anthology series that airs on Showtime. The series is created by Brian Koppelman and David Levien.

The first season (The Battle for Uber) is based on Mike Isaac's book Super Pumped: the Battle for Uber. Premiering on February 27, 2022, the first season follows the rise of Uber and the rise and fall of Travis Kalanick (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), as he creates one of the most successful, and destructive, companies in Silicon Valley history. The Battle for Uber also stars Kyle Chandler, Uma Thurman, Kerry Bishe, Babak Tafti, Jon Bass, and Elisabeth Shue.

Before the show even aired, it was renewed for a second season that will cover Facebook.

Tropes for the series:

  • Alliterative Name: Erich England (Fred Armisen) in "X to the X".
  • As Himself: Mark Cuban appears as himself in War.
  • Can't Take Criticism: Throughout the series, Travis demonstrates an inability to accept criticism without being combative or dishonest to those who bring out legitimate complaints against his company, whether it's sexual misconduct, poor driver relations, or clashing with board members. This becomes his Fatal Flaw, as his inability to listen to Gurley and other board members leads Uber to mishap after mishap.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: The series depicts Travis Kalanick as a ruthless and abrasive CEO who would be willing to conduct in unethical activity to give Uber an edge over the competition. He is also shown to love his parents, and he diverts his private jet to be with his father after a boat accident leaves him comatose and kills his mother.
  • Foregone Conclusion: By the first season's premiere, Travis Kalanick was forced to resign as Uber's CEO and sold 90% of his shares. The company also paid $148M to the Federal Trade Commission for violating privacy laws, with an additional $7 million spent to settle claims of gender discrimination, harassment, and hostile work environment. Moreover, once valued at $69B, Uber IPO'd far below its valuation target as a result of Kalanick's mismanagement and the company's issues with discrimination and privacy.
  • Historical Domain Character:
    • Travis Kalanick, the founder of Uber who was eventually ousted after numerous internal and external battles.
    • Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post.
    • Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, Inc.
  • It's All About Me: Throughout the series, Travis Kalanick is obsessed with his own self-image being the CEO of Uber. This is exemplified in Episode 5 when an Uber driver kills a child in Ohio, as Travis expresses concern about another hit to his reputation rather than that of his company.
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine:
  • Jerkass: Oh god, Travis Kalanick. In addition to him fostering a toxic culture of backstabbing and sexual harassment, he breaks up with Angie to quickly get himself with Gabi and he shows no qualms in ordering his company to conduct in unethical behavior involving consumer privacy or driver pay cuts.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: Travis' inability to resist this costs Uber an opportunity to acquire Lyft. After spending much of War showing Uber's efforts to counteract Lyft's growth, the founders of Lyft come over to Uber's HQ to negotiate an acquisition. While Lyft suggests a deal where their owners get to be on the board with 16% stake, Travis attempts to bring their stake down to 8% while gloating about his company's market share.
  • The Millstone: Emil Michael, ironically, was brought on by Bill because his easygoing personality would be a good balance to Travis' hotheadedness. Instead, Emil develops a toxic friendship with Travis that not only brings out Travis' worst impulses, but also begins making stupid and selfish mistakes that cause Uber's mismanagement and abuse to be revealed to the public.
  • Narrator: Voiced by Quentin Tarantino in exactly the style you'd expect.
  • Never My Fault: Throughout the series, Travis Kalanick not once sincerely takes any responsibility nor admits guilt for any of his company's wrongdoings. His inability to own his mistakes allows Uber to create a toxic culture and ultimately is what alienates Kalanick from his board.
  • One-Word Title:
    • War.
    • Boober.
  • Psychotic Smirk: Travis loves doing this, especially when a plan he concocts is going to plan or when he demonstrates his willingness to do anything to put Uber on top.
  • The Show of the Books: Based on Super Pumped: the Battle for Uber by Mike Isaac.
    • The second season will be based on Issac's second book on Facebook.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: Angie delivers one to Travis in the finale when he attempts to guilt her into talking to others within the board to preserve his position as Uber's CEO, calling him out for cheating and wanting to run away from his past failures.
  • Title Drop: Kalanick says, or rather shouts it, during his presentations about the company.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: While Travis already had some serious flaws, meeting Emil Michael and Arianna Huffington causes those flaws to become too apparent to ignore. Emil, initially brought on to serve as a balance for Travis' personality, instead begins encouraging Travis' bad behavior, while Arianna provides convenient excuses and justifies Travis' behavior on the grounds that he is an innovative disruptor.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Kalanick goes through this in the finale when Ryan Graves stands his ground and refuses to help Travis preserve his position as the CEO.
    Travis: You have to stick with the company? I AM the fucking company! You answered a goddamned tweet with another tweet, and I made you CEO! And I kept you in the company, even though we saw in FIVE MINUTES YOU couldn't do the CEO job, and I had to step in and do ALL OF IT! THE STRATEGIC WORK! THE SCUT WORK! THE FUCKING WORK!!! I'd say Et Tu, Brute? but you'd probably think it was a fucking Dave Matthews lyric!