Showtime’s ‘Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber’ shows the humble beginnings of the ride-sharing app


I’m sure we all have ridden in an Uber, or frantically searched for one at 1 a.m. after a night out, but do any of us really know how Uber came to be? Showtime’s newest limited series “Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber” delves into the story of how Uber became a billion dollar business, starting from the very beginning.  

Episode 1, “Grow or Die,”  takes the viewer into the stressed out life of Uber founder Travis Kalanick (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), as he first begins his journey bringing the ride-sharing service to people’s daily lives. We witness Kalanick’s ongoing enthusiasm and belief in Uber, especially when he screams, “The city has been taken!” across the office after winning the mayor over. While there are times of victory, Kalanick is humbled when his company begins to suffer financially. Not being able to keep up with money, he scores a deal with venture capitalist Bill Gurley (Kyle Chandler), an individual who hopefully has the money, and expertise, to take Uber global.  

“Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber” gave many of the same vibes as “The Social Network.” While most of us are customers of Uber and Facebook, it is always a harsh reality to watch how many of these companies often rise to power through unethical practices. At one point during the first episode, Kalanick says, “Once we get them in our car, we can charge whatever we want the next time.” This quote goes to show that while many individuals will claim they care about their customers and value their opinion, in reality it all comes down to profit and money. To persuade Gurley to be on board, Kalanick tells him, “If someone rides twice, we have them for life.”  

While it does portray the greedy aspects of humankind, I still enjoyed watching “Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber.” I believe much of my enjoyment stemmed from seeing the discovery of something that I actually use. I’m sure I will be much less interested in Hulu’s “The Dropout” because I was never aware of Theranos or Elizabeth Holmes. On the contrary, Uber is an invention that is used by millions, and is especially popular in colleges where there is a strong drinking culture.  

I’m a sucker for most non-fiction shows or movies that showcase the invention of something that is now widely popular. For example, I also enjoyed watching “The Founder,” a 2016 film about the rise of McDonald’s. Now that Uber has already been created, I often find myself thinking “That is such a simple concept!” We all know what taxis are, so why not create one that can pick you up at an exact location, at an exact time? It seems like such a miniscule creation that has had such a large impact on today’s society.  

While I was only able to get through a couple episodes of “Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber,” I’m excited to continue watching and see the rise, and ultimately fall, of Travis Kalanick. If you are someone who enjoys non-fiction drama series, then I highly suggest this one for you. It can be found on Showtime.  

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars  

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