It is fine enough to have artistic license in your show. However, wouldn’t you agree that computers on TV almost always insult viewers’ intelligence? I mean, we practically got used to magical “zoom/enhance” button and the idea that you can hack a computer by randomly punching its keyboard.
But still, I expected better than that from a show about IT startups. “Silicon Valley” should exhibit at least some level of accuracy, at least if it was intended for a computer-literate audience. And then you watch the very first episode and see these gems:
- You can create a revolutionary compression algorithm by accident (!?) while developing some app and not even realize what you did. I mean, seriously! Exactly how do you create new data structures and algorithms by chance?
- You put your project on GitHub for everyone to see and download and yet two super rich guys bid millions against each other. For code that’s publicly available, if not open source!
- You write a piece of code and people start throwing money at you. Just like that, because you’re a genius! (sarcasm)
Admittedly, it is a long way from completely clueless magical computers, but still I could not get past it. What should have been a show about startups quickly turned into a parody at best. I was disappointed until I realized that television actually does have a perfect “startup show” – a sitcom about two girls and… wait for it… cupcakes!
“2 Broke Girls” – a story about Caroline, an impoverished heiress whose father is in jail for performing a Ponzi scheme, and Max, a lower class stoner who makes really nice cupcakes. The two of them are set against all odds to build their own business – Max’s Homemade Cupcakes – and improve their life in the process.
If you only replace cupcakes with apps you’ll have an astonishingly realistic portrayal of a typical IT startup:
- They struggle to get every customer they can through every connection, channel or referral they can get.
- They raise funds from unlikeliest of sources – their angel investors involve a homeless guy and a Polish cleaning lady.
- Their areas of expertise are split – Max is the “product girl”, a developer basically, while Caroline’s focus is on business aspects.
- They go above and beyond to be mentioned by Martha Stewart. How many of you founders based your business model on being tweeted by a celebrity? Yep, that’s what I thought!
- Most importantly, very little attention is actually given to cupcakes. Max makes them, they look pretty and tasty and that’s it! The focus is on everything else that makes a startup.
The last point is probably the most important one that founders around the world rarely manage to make – it’s not just about the code! Building a startup also involves all these other messy activities that simply need to be done. Not everyone can create a groundbreaking algorithm in Clojure or Go, but even fewer people can also build a business around it.
So, if you are tired of stereotypical “get rich quick” portrayal of IT startups as seen on “Silicon Valley” and everywhere else on TV, I heartily recommend this funny, witty and brutally realistic show.