Silicon Valley's Journey From Reality To Scripted TV
Ever since the award-winning film "Social Network" caused a stir about the digerati drawn to the Silicon Valley like moths to a flame, other would-be producers have tried to capture the zeitgeist of this lifestyle in various forms - books, movies and TV.
Working the century's new credo: geeks are our new rock gods, even a sibling of the famed Facebook founder couldn't resist the attraction. Unfortunately, Randi Zuckerberg who left a lucrative marketing post at Facebook did not realize that it actually took more than a social media pedigree to produce a reality TV show that's going to work - or even come close to the real deal.
By stringing together a series of geeky buzzwords like "ecosystem," "FU Disruption," and "balls to the walls" to promote her series, Ms. Zuckerberg's "Start-Ups: Silicon Valley" in 2012 essentially ended up parodying the lifestyle from whence she came, versus any attempt to drill down to the pychographics of a techie neighborhood playground.
Once aired, it was in short order, members of the digerati from bloggers to established entrepreneurs criticized her meager attempt at only skimming the surface of what life was like on the inside -- and also for selecting BRAVO, a TV network rightfully ridiculed for their petulant, ad nauseum "Real Housewives" reality series.
Harsher reviews followed. Some bewailed the show as a "Jersey Shore" wannabe that bore little resemblance to real life in the startup trenches. Blogger Sarah Lacy warned that executive producer Randi Zuckerberg had "sold her Silicon Valley soul for 15 minutes of fame."
No surprise - but after a half-dozen episodes or more, the show drew its last breath and faded into a fog of disappointment for Zuckerberg who was not only pinning her hopes on its success, but also the possibility of a New York City based "Silicon Alley" knock-off to be picked up. Not the case!
Flash forward two years, and now HBO is taking a stab at the illustrious valley of bits, bytes and coda -- this time using the genre of comedy versus reality or drama. However, instead of someone on the inside of the techie world taking the helm, HBO's has wisely selected someone with solid TV credentials. Mike Judge of "King of the Hill" and "Beavis & Butt-head" fame will be in charge of steering this new vessel into Silicon harbor.
With a premiere preview at South by Southwest on March 10 (followed up by an April 6 debut on the paid network), Judge's first live-action TV comedy series could be described as "Office Space" meets "The Social Network." Instead of unknown reality stars outliving their 15 minutes in less than 60 seconds, Judge's new comedy has cast some familiar comedic actors including Kumail Nanjiani, T.J. Miller, Thomas Middleditch, Zach Woods and Martin Starr.
Judge's advance ad poster for his "Silicon Valley" and video trailer look promising. The first glimpse spoofs the look of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, complete with black turtlenecks and that chin-rub pose off the cover of Walter Isaacson's biography.
This show could break new ground or follow in the footsteps of Randi Zuckerberg's ill-fated attempt and as one YouTube commenter graphically noted: "suck dead bunnies through a bent straw."
For those of you who are fortunate enough to take in the premiere at South by Southwest, you'll have to report back and let us know if Judge was successful in whacking the proverbial Silicon nail on the geeks' noggin? Comments welcome.