Last weekend Silicon Valley premiered on HBO. Although this show is eponymous of a growing hotbed where brilliant techies are looking to take over the world, this program is not the first to tackle the drama that is the tech start-up. A similar show titled Betas has been running on Amazon, and Bravo has the reality show Start-Ups, which follows young ambitious techies as they navigate the treacherous NorCal waters. But do Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs-wannabes deserve a reality show or dramatization? Does America want to see behind-the-scenes at the inner workings of this go-for-broke industry?
With an Oscar-winning drama based on the genesis of Facebook and not one, but two films centered on the life of Steve Jobs, it’s clear that potent drama exists in tech industry. After all, it’s a king-making, cut-throat gauntlet where younger and younger geniuses keep showing up, all looking to rewrite the rules. (Who needs Game of Thrones?) But can the atmosphere of socially awkward 20-somethings binging on Oreos and writing code at all hours translate to great television ratings?
In the late seventies and early eighties films like Taxi Driver and First Blood captured the struggle of Vietnam War veterans attempting to adjust to life after combat. The social demands, the residual trauma, the undercurrent of surging psychosis all drove great stories and propelled great performances. At the turn of the Millennium, disaster films like Deep Impact and Armageddon brought apocalyptic popcorn fare to the masses, always subtly brushing on the possible end of mankind. Nowadays tech founders are the new rock stars. They are the minds that set lifestyles and culture altering trends in motion. They have a hand in our reality, whether we acknowledge it or not. And although at times we don’t grasp the enigmatic, baffling, sometimes irritating personalities these techie figureheads purport, we are all in awe of their foresight.
No matter what the industry, some things will always transcend. Courage. Ambition. Deceit. Integrity. But unlike ages past, the narratives of these entrepreneurs target a desire to understand how we buy eggs, how we pick a car insurance provider, how we fall in love, and how to profit from our natural everyday needs and desires. Although both exciting and ominous, this prerogative is fundamentally human. The ultra-nerdy tech giant is a provocative choice for drama because these individuals don’t move like Jagger, their social graces are at times less than desirable, but their ideas have an existential bravado that is envy of the world. Socially incoherent individuals teaching us how to be social? Yes, I’ll tune in.