Let’s be honest, we all watch too much t.v. I’m no exception, the minute I complete one show series I seem to stumble upon a new show that sucks me in, keeping me constantly and consistently waiting for new episodes each week or binge watching full seasons.
Lately a television trend has arisen of tech-based drama series. There have always been the ridiculously, over-dramatized movies about computer geeks and ‘hackers’, typically criminally based, such as Swordfish and Hackers, even Jurassic Park gave a nod to the mysterious and all-powerful hacker. But anyone with an ounce of computer savvy or know-how understands the over-the-top nature of these films.
Enter the Prototype
To my delight a number of shows have become syndicated revolving around exactly what I love–the design and development of hardware and software. Honestly, it’s about time the entertainment industry opens up a new genre, how many medical dramas and cop thrillers do we need?
The IT Crowd
My Rating ***
The IT Crowd is one of the earliest attempts at nerd humor. The British comedy began in 2006, lasting four seasons with one special. The show follows a cast of characters working in the IT department for a corporation, dealing with the day-to-day nuances and trivialities anyone who has handled tech-related support request can identify with.
My Rating ***
Betas is one of Amazon’s first attempts at syndicating their own content. The Betas pilot garnered enough attention by Amazon Prime subscribers to elicit a full season. The show centers around a tech startup working in an incubator attempting to create the next social platform. Betas is a solid mix of reality, drama, and humor making it a fun and catchy show to watch.
Unfortunately Betas has not been renewed for a second season which disappoints me, but at least Alpha House will return! Unless you can’t handle watching something you know will never continue I still suggest checking Season 1 of Betas on Amazon Prime.
My Rating *****
Silicon Valley is one of the smartest, down-to-earth tech dramas out there. The show features a rich, well-balanced hodgepodge of real life scenarios, hot drama, and scorching comedy. Silicon Valley has a freshness to it that I rarely see in the media. Even with its sometimes over-the-top witticisms, the script and performance of its actors are superb.
Silicon Valley revolves around a small team of developers as they begin a startup around a compression algorithm. The shows creators employed real-life developers to ensure a realistic expectation with the show (why not? all the cop and doctor shows do it). The show was renewed for a second season. Viewership has been lower than expected, just shy of 2 million at the season finale, but I expect the show to pick up as its reputation grows.
Halt and Catch Fire
My Rating **** (1 episode)
Halt and Catch Fire is the latest show by AMC, the creators of The Walking Dead, Mad Men, and Breaking Bad. The show follows a small cast of characters in a race against IBM to build the personal computer. I see a couple of things going for the show: 1. it’s about people going for crazy dreams, 2. it takes place in the 80s (I keep saying the eighties are coming back!). Yeah, I know those are not really great points. But check it out, the pilot episode shows promise for the series, I know I will be watching.
What’s the Impact?
I’m interested to know how these shows (and others) will influence our society. There is already a rockstar-like mentality with the tech industry–everyone dreams of being the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerburg or Jack Dorsey, being discovered, and striking it rich. But in reality most designers and developers are like everyone else, working for a paycheck and hoping to squirrel away for retirement.
There has also been a push to ‘commodify’ coding, comparing coding to a skill like literacy or the ability to type with a keyboard. While I have no problem with anyone dabbling with code, the assumption that anyone can learn to code is wrong and misleading, but I’m not going to get into that at the moment.
Before I say adieu I present one last resource for your consumption. Source Code in TV and Films is a great Tumblr account focused on analyzing screen caps from film featuring shots of code, and sourcing the language and/or origin of said snippet. Check it out for a good laugh.
As always, if you have any thoughts or questions or want to chat about any t.v. shows feel free to leave a comment or find me on Twitter at @calebsylvest.