Office Space is considered a classic today but when it was released in 1999 it did poorly at the box office. It took a few years for it to become a cult classic. The main reason for its latter-day success was in part to how relatable the movie was. For anyone who worked in the corporate world the movie was like manna from Heaven. Never had all the frustrations and silliness of corporate work life been captured so perfectly before. It was easy to relate to the characters, their frustrations with upper management, and that stupid printer that would get stuck at the worst possible moment.
The first time I watched Office Space I had just finished a stint working at a major corporation and I was almost convinced the filmmakers had to have worked at the same place since the movie hit so close to home.
I never thought I’d ever have that experience again…until I started working at a tech company and started watching Silicon Valley.
Silicon Valley actually debuted on HBO two weeks after I started my current job, but admittedly I didn’t discover it until a bit later. It was actually my boss who introduced it to me. I had just gotten back from the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), one of the biggest (and most bizarre) tech conferences in the world. We were talking about all the chaos of the conference and my boss mentioned how similar it was to Silicon Valley and urged me to watch.
So I did.
I wasn’t 10 minutes into the first episode when I had flashback to the experience I had watching Office Space all those years ago. The show isn’t just an accurate portrayal of working at a tech company, it absolutely NAILS every last detail.
So real it’s creepy (but funny)
The brilliance of Silicon Valley is that it works on two levels. It’s funny for anyone who doesn’t work in the tech industry but it’s absolutely hilarious for anyone that does. There isn’t a single character or storyline in Silicon Valley that I haven’t seen in this industry first-hand. All you have to do is go to one tech conference like CES and you’ll see your shares of Richards, Jareds, Erlichs, Dineshes…and Gavin Belsons. Oh so many Gavin Belson’s.
It’s the rare show where the outlandish plotlines on the show are actually not as crazy as what you see in real life. If anything, the show probably tones down on the general insanity of the tech industry. But the show is absolutely accurate in a simultaneously creepy and hilarious way. At least once an episode I’ll pause the show and tell my wife “this exact thing just happened to me last week” or something similar. Yeah, it’s probably annoying for her but I’m just so amazed at how close it hits to home.
There’s no doubt the people that make the show; the writers, the actors, the producers have all spent extensive time in and around the tech industry. The show is grounded in reality in a way that no other shows on television are today, and it’s that authenticity that makes it such a great watch for anyone who work in the tech world.
But make no mistake, ultimately Silicon Valley is one of the funniest shows on television for anyone. Even if you don’t know anything about the tech industry the show will be funny enough on its own. Just don’t make the mistake of thinking that the show exaggerates the truth…as anyone familiar with the tech industry will be able to tell you, reality shows be damned, this is the most realistic show on television today.