4 TV Shows That Accurately Portray the IT World

Check out these TV shows for a glimpse into the life of an IT professional.

4 TV Shows That Accurately Portray the IT World
If you’ve ever watched an episode of CSI: Cyber, you wouldn’t be blamed for assuming that most IT professionals are able to hack into secret government agencies all the while defusing virtual bombs while sharing a keyboard with a gorgeous colleague. With multiple screens flashing incomprehensible images and code, the IT professional is able to make sense of it all with admirable aplomb. While the latter is (hopefully) true, Hollywood has, on the whole, been misrepresenting the IT industry for decades. 

Whether it is simply due to a misunderstanding of what the average IT professional actually does for a living or exercising loose dramatic license, the number of movies and/or TV shows that accurately represent the tech world are few and far between. Ask the average policeman of how his job is represented on film and I am sure it would invoke the same response. However, there have been some exceptions over the years that have more accurately represented the day-to-day lives of those who work in the tech world. Here are four TV shows worth exploring if you are interested in learning more about the reality of IT:
 
Halt and Catch Fire (AMC)
This AMC drama revolves around the fictionalized events that took place during the personal computer revolution in the early 1980s. The show follows a small group of hardware and software engineers working for a system software company, on their quest to reverse engineer an IBM personal computer as a means of improving on the design and developing the world’s first portable personal computer. While the events of the show are fictional, the series injects its narrative directly into the early PC wars and the drama that surrounded the major players at the time, namely XeroxIBM, Texas Instruments and Apple. Unlike many other tech-centric shows, Halt and Catch Fire is aimed towards the tech savvy historian and doesn’t dumb down the lingo for the masses.
 
Silicon Valley (HBO)
Silicon Valley is a Mike Judge vehicle that takes a modern and caustic look at the current tech start-up environment currently thriving in California. The series focuses on a small group of developers who are looking to gain funding for their data compression company. Richard Hendricks and his merry little band of misfits stumble their way through the complex world of founding a fledgling company, raising venture capital and competing with thieving rivals all the while trying to improve their compression algorithm. While the show is subversive and often crude, it accurately portrays the very male, jargon-filled and cut throat world of tech start-ups.
 
The IT Crowd
The IT Crowd is the silliest show in this list but it is easily the most accessible to non IT folk. The show is set in the fictional IT basement office of Reynholm Industries, occupied by two walking and talking IT stereotypes: Roy, sarcastic and work-avoiding and Moss, prototypically literal and socially inept. Together they form the personification of every company’s IT department: two underappreciated yet highly skilled employees who suffer through the incompetence of their end users. While the show is often slapstick and reaches for the obvious joke, a great deal of truth is often revealed in jest. To wit, their manager, Jen, doesn’t even know what IT stands for, a recurring jab that suggests skilled IT workers don’t need to be managed.
 
Person of Interest (CBS)
While the premise is slightly sensational for my personal taste (a billionaire genius has developed a computer system that can predict future terrorist attacks), the show touches upon some deeper tech-related philosophical elements. There have long been discussions about the emergence of artificial intelligence and the possible threat that automation may pose to humanity. Furthermore, the notion of whether said AI will possess a sense of morality is something that anyone from Elon Musk to Bill Gates are warning against. These very themes are central to Person of Interest (although somewhat concealed behind bleeping screens and stylized action sequences).
 
Office Space (1999)
As a bonus, I thought I would mention another Mike Judge cult classic. While this comedy is a scathing indictment of the large tech corporation, the central characters tell a very accurate and human story of the average software developer. Office Space follows a discontented software analyst who is searching for an escape from his imprisoning cubicle. While the film satirizes the reality (and surrealistic nature) of working within a soulless tech company, a great deal of truth lies in the film’s overall message. The life of a software engineer in 1999 (lest we forget Y2K), was an endless foray into the world of replacing 2-digit years codes with 4-digit ones. This film hilariously captures the despair that many of us felt at the time.
 
Truth of the matter, aside from any TV portrayal, the IT world can be an interesting and fascinating niche worth exploring if you are looking to have a successful career in the field.
 
Image is property of HBO Silicon Valley

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