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If you want to understand Silicon Valley, watch Silicon Valley (gatesnotes.com)
855 points by trequartista 21 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 459 comments



Amazing anecdote from a 2016 New Yorker article on the show:

> During one visit to Google’s headquarters, in Mountain View, about six writers sat in a conference room with Astro Teller, the head of GoogleX, who wore a midi ring and kept his long hair in a ponytail. “Most of our research meetings are fun, but this one was uncomfortable,” Kemper told me....

> “He claimed he hadn’t seen the show, and then he referred many times to specific things that had happened on the show,” Kemper said. “His message was, ‘We don’t do stupid things here. We do things that actually are going to change the world, whether you choose to make fun of that or not.’ ” (Teller could not be reached for comment.)

> Teller ended the meeting by standing up in a huff, but his attempt at a dramatic exit was marred by the fact that he was wearing Rollerblades. He wobbled to the door in silence. “Then there was this awkward moment of him fumbling with his I.D. badge, trying to get the door to open,” Kemper said. “It felt like it lasted an hour. We were all trying not to laugh. Even while it was happening, I knew we were all thinking the same thing: Can we use this?” In the end, the joke was deemed “too hacky to use on the show.”

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/how-silicon-v...


Reminds me of Steven Tyler reacting to Spinal Tap:

Tyler expounded on his reaction in a rare Library of Congress interview made public back in 2012. "That movie bummed me out," he said, "because I thought, 'How dare they? That's all real, and they're mocking it.'"

To be fair, Silicon Valley (the show) never interested me... kinda found it to be boring. But it _is_ hilarious when you run into these art imitates life imitates art things.


oh man, they definitely should have used that. it fits right into the show in every way. i am laughing just reading a straight account of what happened.

silicon valley is really insufferable. i don't understand that place at all and don't ever wish to be there. and i am often reminded of adam curtis' documentary all watched over by machines of everlasting grace. i wish he would do another one along these lines.


Like they said, people would have written it off as fake and over the top.


where did they say that? they said it was "too hacky".


It was a great show because of on point, biting satire like this. Then in the last season the writing dropped off a cliff, I guess they got neutered - post Gawker world and all that.


X labs actually does great things. Nobody has invested into such different areas of scientific research as Alphabet. I love SV, but hated that potato cannon joke. They painted X Labs as a joke, which it isn't. Sure, they have had their failures,but I'd rather take their failures rather thn "successes" like Snapchat, Tiktok. Craig Frederighi demoing Memoji is much more laughable.


Agreed. When the problems they try to tackle are orders of magnitude harder than...making Snapchat, you have to attribute their failure more to difficulty of the problem than incompetence of the people.


Yes. And thankfully, Ruth Porat has controlled the losses otherwise around 2013 they were on fire,bought so many robotics companies etc. Though, the incentive structure at the Self Driving project led to a lot of great engineers leaving the project and making tons of . I was also excited for Project Soli. Haven't seen any update regarding their work in 3 years. Waiting to see how Loon, Wing monetize as they graduated this year from X. No idea why I got downvotes on my 1st comment above. Probably, Snapchat or other insignificant Social startup employees.


I didn’t downvote you, but I wasn’t surprised to see that comment downvoted. The person you replied to said that they thought the show’s satire was really good. You replied, saying Google X does great things. That is either an off-topic reply or a weak way to disagree with whether the satire is good. Like Gates said, the high technology industry can accomplish great things and have some funny aspects at the same time.

Hang on a second. Why would there be a badge reader to get _out_ of a conference room? Can anybody who's been at Google HQ confirm the setup?


I remember reading a story about someone who got fired from some Silicon Valley tech job, and they almost immediately revoked their key card, so they got stuck in the staircase and had to wait for someone to hold the door open so they could get out of the building. (As if getting fired wasn't bad enough, you have to beg favours from random passers-by.)


Fire codes demand stairwells always open to the outdoors without obstruction. So this seems fishy?


In that story he was trying to go to the second floor from the third to collect his bag before leaving.

https://zachholman.com/talk/firing-people


Common after layoff to have to return at an arranged later date (exit interview?) to collect belongings. But can be a bummer if your car keys are in your desk!



Sometimes there are conference rooms outside the secured perimeter of a building, in the lobby before you go past the receptionist and have to badge in. I've seen them used for interviews and such. Since Google X has all sorts of top secret stuff, I could see them doing things that way.


That and the idea that he would wear skates to a meeting where he intends to show a group of comedy writers the seriousness of his work make this anecdote very unbelievable.


Just search for Astro Teller rollerblades :)


Those search results are heavily polluted by stories of this interview now. It's weird that they would give him trouble if he always wears them. If only Google had figured out a way for people to have human-powered wheeled transportation between buildings without having to be hobbled indoors...


Don’t know about Google but I’ve seen that at HP.


New Yorker, not NYTimes article.


Fixed! Thank you


Any shows of the same style on Hollywood?

Do the show producers feel something similar to some in their own industry or their surreality is just reality for them? Are they brave enough to mock powerful people they may wish to work with later?

Would be fun to watch one on Hollywood and they should have very intimate details to bare.


> Would be fun to watch one on Hollywood and they should have very intimate details to bare.

Try Californication or Entourage


Heck yeah, Entourage was good. Way good.


Conversely, I hate seeing TV / movies about Hollywood. It feels like such a crutch for writers, and feels a tad self-obsessed.

The only time I've been able to stand Hollywood critiques in recent memory is BoJack.


Hollywood have a grand tradition for satirizing themselves mercilessly - from Sunset Boulevard to Tropic Thunder. They don't shy away from presenting powerful Hollywood producers as drug users, as in True Romance, and in The Player you have cameos of Hollywood personalities playing themselves in a movie which present the business as deeply corrupt and opportunistic. I dont' think anybody is as openly cynical about Hollywood as Hollywood itself.


Episodes. It's a show about two British writers trying to make their show in Hollywood.


Bojack Horseman does a similar thing for Hollywood. It focuses on the shallowness of Hollywood culture and its effects on the people living in it though, so it swings from hilarious to extremely dark all the time.


If you line Seinfield type of humour checkout Curb Your Enthusiasm. Larry David staring as Larry David.


A bit dated, but this was the intent behind HBO's The Larry Sanders Show.


The Producers?


I don't believe this. Google doesn't have badge readers to exit a meeting room... sounds heavily dramatized


You know this about ALL Google meeting rooms? There can't be a higher security room in which you must badge out, or rather, badge into a higher security room adjacent to a meeting room?

Are you SURE


A few months ago I wrote a certain story here and to my surprise I received a call from Dan Lyons, one of the writers of the show. We had long discussions about silicon valley and his new book coming out (I'm featured in it). A few weeks ago he was in LA and we had another long discussion about the show.

Silicon Valley is the show most startup founders will refuse to watch. My startup was featured on TechCrunch Disrupt, we were on stage talking about how we will change the world with our product. Then things didn't particularly go as planed.

I discovered the show and started watching it shortly after. It was painful to see that they portrayed our exact journey as it happened. Only the show poked fun of the mistakes we were making. I watched it not only as a comedy, but also as a documentary that would predict our fate. It was eye-opening!

My favorite part (and most humiliating) was when we pitched our startup to a non-silicon valley investor and she simply replied: "OK, cut the crap. Which website are you scraping?"

All my co-founders were offended by the show. I must admit, its painful to watch someone else make fun of the things you put your heart to. But from time to time, someone has to make fun of you or you start to take yourself too seriously.

If you are trying to make it in silicon valley, please watch the show. At best, it will help you make your startup more grounded.


Man, you need to get better co-founders! I agree that Silicon Valley often hits painfully close to home, but that's precisely what makes it so fantastic.

My own startup has been mostly outside of America, but we get enough brushes with Silicon Valley culture -- or, worse, wannabe Silicon Valley culture -- to make the show really resonate.

Even closer to home, for me personally, is the Australian comedy "Utopia" (or "Dreamland", depending on the market). It's about a municipal urban development corporation, which is basically my startup's customer group. One episode features a sendup of what my own startup does (online collaborative infrastructure planning and stakeholder engagement) -- or, more to the point, what some of our would-be customers want it to do. You can tell that the writers know what they're talking about. Damn near killed me to watch it. Highly, highly recommended!


Utopia is a documentary, not a comedy. I know people that can’t watch it because it is like being in their office.


Utopia is brilliant. The new logo episode is one of the greatest pieces of tv ever made.


Another Aussie here. Try 'very small business' for a laugh.


"show most startup founders will refuse to watch"

Hah! Anecdotally, I've had the opposite experience watching the show and running a startup in the valley. Most of my co-founder friends have seen it and see it as a sort of catharsis.

"We aren't the only ones, this happens to everyone, so much so, there's a show about it"

And then there's the inspirational, "Let's have the team coalesce around a deadline and jam out something that's never been done before", episodes. Also very real.


We talked a lot about how many founders that somewhat found success, try to be Gavins or Russ Hannemans. But the show doesn't portray these people as the visionaries they think they are. In fact it makes fun of them.


Even the Presidents shit stinks. I'm really wondering how fragile your ego has to be to be offended by watching Silicon Valley. Are these really people who should be trying to "change the world"? Better to work on themselves first.


That's some really interesting insights from a founder, thanks!

I'm a huge fan of the show, but one thing I would like to point out is that I don't think everything of the show is negative. sometimes it makes me wish I was developing (data science here). my favorite moments of the show is when they overcome some huge challenge (spoiler like with 2 days of the condor)


> Silicon Valley is the show most startup founders will refuse to watch.

So, so true. I tried to start watching it when I was running my startup but it literally felt like I was watching the same place and people I was spending 9-14 hours/day at the startup accelerator I was in.


It does a great job at isolating and grinding on the insufferable pretentiousness of the SV startup scene.

The first season resonated the most with my experiences, but I know others who recognize their own experiences in different parts of it.


I can watch Silicon Valley but I can't make it through Social Network... it's too painful.


I find the start of Social Network really inspiring. The great soundtrack (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross) from the scene where he is running back to his room and then getting to work will get me productive every time.

Running home - "Hand Covers Bruise" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXdFJggkjzM Starting work - "In Motion" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5y2mDjPR7oU


The NEW book? What's the title?


I meant the latest books that came out last month, Lab Rats.


Nice! I really enjoyed his book "Disrupted", will check this one too.


My favorite Silicon Valley anecdote:

"During the review process once the footage [of Techcrunch Disrupt] was woven in, another editor criticized the crowd shots for not featuring any women and blamed Berg for the oversight.

'...Those were real shots of the real place, and we didn't frame women out.The world we're depicting is f---ed up.' said Berg"

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.businessinsider.com/hbos-si...

Sorry for the amp link, the main page was broken.


Surprisingly even-handed piece:

There's been debate about whether "Silicon Valley" the show should have more diversity than Silicon Valley the place, but Berg argues that a show made for entertainment not meant to be a "social-action wing" or be a force of change - the show is just satirizing the reality that the tech industry itself needs to take care of.


One thing that mildly annoys me about the show is how white the cast is.

At least in my Silicon Valley career, the "cast" around me has been vastly less so.


I have no idea where you're working at but if you've ever looked at Google's public diversity report (one of the largest companies in the valley), you'd see that your Silicon Valley career does not reflect what the majority of people in this very large company experience.

https://diversity.google/annual-report/


Some of the other staples of the bay area.

Yahoo Tech workers 31% white https://yahoo.tumblr.com/post/152561899994/yahoos-2016-diver...

Ebay Tech workers 29% white https://static.ebayinc.com/assets/Uploads/Documents/eBay2017...


By this report Google is 56.6% white.

My experience is that white male Americans are roughly 25% of the Silicon Valley workforce, but if you bundle in white immigrants and women you might reach 40-50%.

As I remember the TV show, the main characters are 80% white, and the Indian guy is the whitest one I've seen.

Small sample, I know, and I'm not offended. Just a little bored...


Pakistani fwiw.


> the Indian guy is the whitest one I've seen

What do you mean by that? Can you explain?


> What do you mean by that? Can you explain?

Maybe he means culturally


Either way, it's weird, and wrong. Honestly op sounds more racist lol


So a guy who was born and raised in Pakistan and has a Pakistani accent is culturally white? What exactly does that mean? Does it mean that he’s educated and wealthy?


I think he means, that guy is more culturally white than the Indians who he finds in the SV.


Funny. When I read this the first time, I looked up the writing credits (including/excluding/only guest writers) and heir genders and there was a picture painted there that was quite amusing :)

Not at all surprising considering it’s Hollywood, but amusing nonetheless.


> Sorry for the amp link, the main page was broken.

https://www.businessinsider.com/hbos-silicon-valley-had-dive...


I always describe Silicon Valley (the show) as being solidly in the Uncanny Valley (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncanny_valley). It's humorous and absurd, but at the same time so close to reality it's unsettling.


It was the yogurt scene that did it for me. When one of the main characters yells at the other about how all the small spoons are missing, and he can't get the big spoons into the greek yogurt jam section.

Not only did I have that exact same conversation with my coworker the day previously about the exact brand of yogurt, on post-analysis we're pretty sure our company has stocked the exact same spoons they used in the show.


For me, it was the episode where they were doing agile development complete with story cards. I had been in so many of those exact same meetings. It was hysterical but also... refreshing? Someone got it, the ridiculousness of it all wrapped up in earnest desire to implement A Better Process.


But the joke on the show is that Jared is the only person who actually level-headed enough to succeed at a business goal, but the developers just made everything into a joke and a pissing contest, and still let themselves be manipulated by the system they thought was too dumb for them. When the company literally falls off the back of a truck in a later season, another character says "This wouldn't have happened if Jared were still here."


Yup. After we had broken out the first Scrum project, my HR Manager came by specifically to tell me he had learned all about Scrum watching Silicon Valley.


In Austin, my coworkers would always stop at lunch and look if Mike Judge was nearby. We were convinced he just followed us around for Office Space and King of the Hill material.


Mike Judge is just an absolute artistic genius. Even though it's all light-hearted pop culture, the breadth of his work is just so amazing.


All of his work is about middle class suburban white people, and their lives. There's nothing wrong with that, 'write what you know', but 'breadth' isn't really the term to describe it.


Race and class demographics are not the only dimensions to a show. A working class conservative family in the suburbs of Dallas is pretty different from the high tech and high paid world of Silicon Valley is different from uneducated teenage slackers giggling at poop jokes.

What Bevis does/thinks/likes versus what Hank does/thinks/likes versus what Richard does/thinks/likes could not be farther from each other. Just because they're all white doesn't mean they're all interchangeable.


In office space Peter Gibbons, our white Alpha, and the only guy with any sense, tries to stay sane and hold it together in a world that has gone haywire.

In King of the Hill, our white Alpha, Hank Hill, the only guy with any common sense, tries to stay sane and keep it from all falling apart in a world that has gone Haywire.

In Idiocracy, our White Alpha, Joe Bauer, the only guy with any sense, tries to stay sane and keep it from falling apart in a world that has gone haywire.

In Extract, Joel, our down to earth White Alpha, tries to stay sane and hold it together in a world that has gone haywire.

And in Silicon Valley, well- you get the idea. I love Mike Judge films, he is an astute observer and hilarious. but his ouvre is not broad. He's got a formula, and it works, and that's fine.


Yeah it's really easy to overgeneralize if you boil it down to nothing and ignore everything that isn't convenient to your point.


[flagged]


There are more dimensions to life than race and gender in which to find breadth.


How does Beavis and Butthead fit into your model


Like Cornholio fits in a t-shirt.


Or Daria


> In King of the Hill, our white Alpha, Hank Hill, the only guy with any common sense

Ah, that's not my memory of King of the Hill. In it Hank is the biggest idiot and it's only those around him that have any common sense.

I probably only watched the first season but I remember one episode in particular where some Laotians moved into the neighborhood and Hank couldn't except that they weren't Chinese or Japanese. His father who fought in South East Asia knew immediately that they were Laotians but Hank refused to acknowledge any kind thing other than Chinese or Japanese. Hank's wife went on to bake a "Apple Brown Betty" (I think that's what it's called) and got upset when the Laotian neighbor made it better.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_CaZ4EAexQ


Or the fact that Hank was tricked into paying MSRP on his vehicles for decades.


His new series Tales From The Tour Bus, telling stories about musicians doing drugs and/or being kind of assholes is absolutely hilarious too. I love all of his stuff, King of the Hill especially.


Beavis and Butthead?


Hehe


A couple years ago I found myself at a user conference party for the funded SaaS company I worked for. The concert was complete with open cocktail bar, Cirque du Soleil aerial performers, and (you guessed it), Flo-Rida.

For a while I couldn't decide if it was life imitating art, or a tongue-in-cheek nod to the stereotype we were seen as. But it wasn't the latter, the founder/president wasn't that self-aware.


Flo-Rida performed at NIPS. The top academic ML conference.

I can't imagine who thought that the community of some of the world's biggest nerds wanted to listen to Flo-Rida !?


I think a lot of those nerds maybe skipped the dance parties in college, and skipped going to the club as an adult. The experience of being at this kind of event, but where you're the guest of honor instead of an out-of-place spectator, is enticing.

Of course I'm not trying to say all ML researchers are dweebs, but if that description applies to 10% of attendees, you've got a line.


I was at NeurIPS last year, and I can actually confirm that the line to see Flo-Rida went around the block. It's unclear to me whether or not there was genuine interest in the performance, but there was certainly interest in the event.

Say what you will about the world's biggest nerds, but irony, whether purposeful or inexplicably accidental, is not lost on them.

Ninja Edit: New conference name :)


> NeurIPS

That was fast.

I was all for a name change from a juvenile pun, but "NeurIPS" is hilariously bad. It confirms, that everyone but the press, continues calling it NIPS.

> line to see Flo-Rida went around the block

I mean, if it was a free (already paid for) concert, then I would go for it too.


Not just free concert but free food and booze.

BTW the whole renaming of NIPS to NeurIPS could be an episode of SV, where a board of directors are all offended by names of body parts!


"So tell me, what's wrong with the Proceedings of Neural Information Systems again?"


Let's just ignore the racial epithet part shall we?


"Nip" used to be a somewhat common perjorative term for Japanese (i.e. Nipponese; the Japanese word for Japan is Nippon). In case anyone else was confused by this comment.


I've never heard it used in this context, but I guess people can get offended by pretty much anything these days.


It’s real but old timey. Unless you’re quite a bit older than the HN average, you probably wouldn’t have heard it. That, of course, doesn’t mean it’s ok.


Or you read Cryptonomicon.


Flo-rida has just been smart about capitalizing on that easy valley money. I’ve been to several parties where he performs and gotten on stage with him during Dreamforce.


maybe easy money but I'm sure he's all about the networking and trying to get into oppertunities to invest in.


He’s probably receiving equity in lieu of cash payment for his services.


Mr. Florida.


"Silicon Valley" is like Silicon Valley, but it goes to 0x11.


Or to 0x0B?


I'd say the real place goes to 0x0B all day every day. The valley runs on hype and all-nighters.


3?


0x11 = 17 That’s like 6 above 11! About right in my opinion.


Our Hexadecimal codes go to Q - bonus points if any one gets the Traveller SF RPG in joke.

Traveller is where of course Elite ripped off the initial space combat system from.


it goes to 0x0G


I see what you did there. Don't touch it, don't even look at it.


To 00000002b?


Or ~00000002b?


Just like all of mike judges work. A genius


He doesn't get enough credit. The fact that King of the Hill and Silicon Valley come from the same person is astounding and suggests a comic breadth that is hard to grasp.


Also represented the other side of the "programming job" world in Office Space.


And then the factory floor in Extract.


Not to mention Idiocracy, which is pretty much coming true even as we speak.


Chairman of Sony Pictures interrupts Judge interview to take blame for spiking Idiocracy:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/13/magazine/mike-judge-the-b...

“I should’ve made it 10 years later and set in the present.”



It's teasing us. What is the refutation?


The Flynn Effect. People aren't getting more ignorant, we're becoming more aware of our ignorance. Of all the foolishness and idiocy in the world, if you look at human history it's always been worse than now.


Sure but the Flynn effect is just something measured and could well just be a 'low hanging fruit' environmental gains that will/already have run out.


What mythical better times are Idiocracy theory proponents even mourning? When have literacy rates and educational attainment for the masses ever been better than the present? As a species, we still have a long way to go before the low hanging fruit gains are realized.


To suggest that basic literacy and educational attainment are somehow indicative of above average intelligence or the ability to understand complex and abstract ideas is a bit of a stretch.

With grade inflation and babysitting modern age students, what are the realistic requirements to attain a university degree in a low-difficulty major at a mediocre school? 80 IQ? 85?

The literacy argument is trivially refuted in a similar manner. Reading by itself is not indicative of higher cognitive function above an elementary school child.

Also, proportions are what matter here. I doubt the proportion of people with high fluid/crystallized intelligence is higher now, than it was, say in 1850. The only difference is that now a higher proportion of the general population have degrees.


What IQ level is optimal? And what is the role of IQ from a societal standpoint, if you are to presuppose that mass literacy and contemporary education is meaningless? What is the benefit of literacy from your perspective, for that matter


You're dodging the question. When, exactly, was the peak of American intellectual achievement that we're now coasting downhill from? Name a decade.


Sure, 1970s


What made the 70's better than the 60's? In the span of a decade we went from idea (we will put a man on the moon) to execution (Apollo 11) for arguably the greatest scientific feat of mankind.

I realize we're talking about humanity as a whole, but I don't see the appeal of the 70's.


All right, now we're getting somewhere. Why?


Do you have a single fact to back that up?


For starters, the real-world trends Idiocracy bemoans are cultural and educational, not genetic. You fix ignorance with education, not fucking eugenics.


What makes you think Idiocracy is coming true?


"In “Idiocracy,” the secretary of state is sponsored by Carl’s Jr., a company whose chairman very nearly became our current secretary of labor. In 2505, the Oval Office is occupied by an ex-wrestler and porn star named Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho; our president has been on the business end of a Stone Cold Stunner and once appeared in a nonpornographic segment of an otherwise soft-core Playboy VHS tape, dumping sparkling wine onto a limousine. His name is a brand name, too." [1]

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/13/magazine/mike-judge-the-b...


This is a level of superficial similarity that I could use to say Judge Dredd is coming true.



He also programmed for a time, so he had some background for Office Space and maybe Silicon Valley. But then he made KOTH so it’s not like he’s limited either.


He’s come a long way from Beavis and Butthead!


B&B would have been a reflection of the kids he knew in high school, the same way SV was about his time as a programmer.

Similar story to Peter Jackson who started with Bad Taste.


and for King of the Hill, he says he identifies with that personally. In particular with Hank.


Mike Judge created Silicon Valley?

OK, now I have to watch it.


The first episode isn't great but if you push through the first season is good.


I’ll second this, first time I tried I got about 5 minutes in, decided it wasn’t funny and moved on. Later I gave it a better try, deciding to at least watch the entirety of the first episode and I ended up binging much of the first season.


Yeah I couldn't get watch it for this reason -- at the time it came out I was just emerging from the process of an acquisition into a BigCorp, and it was just too real. I found I hated the characters on screen as much as I found I hated their equivalents in real life.


I think that's the whole point. It's meant to be satire, so it (the show) draws attentions to the quirks of Silicon Valley (the place) by exaggerating them.


Except a bunch of satire can't exagerate the excess, or even show it faithfully, because no-one would believe it.

This is what Iannucci says about making more of The Thick of It -- it's impossible to do because current politicians are self satarising in ways that are unbelievable if you put them on screen, even if those things actually happened in real life.


Great way to summarize this experience - way too close to real in my experience. I finally got over this and just enjoyed the humorous aspects of the show. RIGBY...


It's quite amazing how good a job Silicon Valley does considering how badly wrong it could go (I'm looking at you Big Bang Theory). I'm sure there are quite a few industries that could have similar comedies about them from people who really know what the industry is like. W1A is another great example.


This Venn diagram always gets me.

https://i.chzbgr.com/full/8291744000/h3159FC59/


This chart holds only in the sense that the Kardashians play dumb caricatures of themselves. They may cater their brand to the lowest common denominator but they most certainly aren’t dumb themselves. They essentially parlayed Robert Kardashian’s friendship with OJ Simpson into a media empire; there is something to be said for how media savvy they are.


I met someone who worked for the kardashians on the show and said they are king, generous and respectful to the staff working their brand. Said that they know full well they are managing a brand and that they are parlaying that as they know it shall run out soon.

They said that the mom is the eagle-eye over the brand and pushing it to ensure max profit for them.

While i wanted to respect that, and i respect the hustle, it just shows that you can go too far with brand exploitation.

The daughter had the brand advanced through high profile sexual scandals (sex tape, personal relations etc)

The fucking dad had a transitional sex change to keep the limelight ( Nobody cares if he "wanted to be a woman his whole life" - thats his business. Not mine and not worthy of attempting to grab attention dollars.

IMO, the kardashian enterprise ilustrates only one thing:

The dicotomy of the education gap in this nation. Never mind a wealth gap. Education gap is why the US is doomed.


>The dicotomy of the education gap in this nation

Or just awareness of how brands are operating now in general. I don't know if it's as dramatic as education.

It used to be the brand name/logo/trademark itself held all the value (e.g. Apple, Nike, etc.), except now we're seeing the value shift to how the brands correlate with consumer's identities (e.g. privacy, kaepernick, etc.). Kardashians, political parties, and corporations are especially cognizant of this social shift and are adapting faster than people are aware of it happening.

I personally blame social networks, which have made consumers hyper-aware of how decisions affect their carefully-constructed image of themselves online - but it's probably more complicated than just that.


Well throughout history the education gap has always existed. "Bread and Circuses". In every culture, from the east to the west.

What has changed today is hyperconnection. That changes the rules of game.


“Bread and circuses” is not a comforting comparison.


The education gap is almost certainly caused by the wealth gap


I don't think anyone thinks the Kardashians are genuinely being themselves at this point.

I mean, the show is painfully obvious in being scripted. It's like the Truman Show sans Truman.


If you ever find you've entered a cafe and need to sign a waiver because they're filming a reality show scene in there, I highly recommend staying to observe the process. It is hilarious the extent to which they fake the drama on these shows.

The scene was two women fighting over something. Between takes, the director and players were riffing and helping each other to develop their nasty insults and "bitchy" comments.


You could also make the same argument about Paris Hilton. By all accounts, she's a really shrewd businesswoman.


And for our industry, Ashton Kutcher. But it was only his characters who were dumb.


I can't help but think it was a publicist or something and not them...


having money (as you note, the family wealth came from kris jenner's husband) makes it easier to make more money, with no implications about the intelligence of the wealth holder.

take trump for example. nytimes detailed about $600+ million in wealth transfer to him from his dad. while we don't have tax returns or financial statements to confirm this, he's probably worth about a billion dollars now. that rate of return is (roughly) less than 2% yearly. he would have been way better off putting that money in an index fund--he'd be worth about $3 billion if he had.


Number one trump business deal .. hey Dad can I borrow 50 million... Quote horse sense 1992 https://www.amazon.fr/Horse-Sense-Ahead-Business-1992-03-01/...


To be fair, there are plenty of professionally managed funds that haven't beaten the index over the last several decades.


He also inherited that 600 mil in the form of NYC real estate, which of left untouched would be north of 10 bil now.


A index fund doesn't follow the index. There is a broker fee, stock transaction fees for the broker to keep the fund balanced and stock falling out of the index (because of the company eg. halfway to bankruptcy) is a loss for the fund but in the index the next biggest stock just takes it's place.

To keep up with the index is probably really hard.


The iShares S&P 500 ETF (quote: IVV) has an expense ratio of 0.04%, is offered commission-free on many brokerages, and based on some quick calculations, follows the official index to within about 0.5% returns. You're right that it's not completely "free", but the total "cost" is only about half a percentage point, meaning you can pretty closely follow the index in the long run with a single ETF purchase. I don't know what could be easier. :)


it's not that hard (and there is no "the index", just various approximations of a market portfolio). vanguard is well known for low-fee, no-frills index investing (among other things). invest in one of their funds and you'll likely net over 5% over the long run.


Quick search doesn't find an article making that claim, care to cite it?


here you go: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/10/02/us/politics/d...

and sorry, i misremembered the numbers. he got over $400 million (at least) from dad, and that would be worth about $2 billion if simply invested in an index fund (according to the article).


The $400M number is inflation adjusted already, the actual numbers are lower.

https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2015-09-03/should... is a good critique of these kinds of calculations in general - they usually assume perfect market timing


yes, but that doesn't matter. at the end, they estimate the current value from indexing to be about $2B.

the trump wealth transfer started over 60 years ago. over the long run, market timing doesn't matter that much.

(EDIT: and that opinion piece was not coherent; the author mixed up trump's businesses with his net worth, and convoluted other finance concepts to render his desired "opinion". it was awful.)


That's just not the case - if you assume he bought in during a low point you'll get a much higher figure.

Besides, there's no claim that he was given anywhere close to $400M over 60 years ago, nor can anyone be realistically expected to invest their inheritance starting at the age of 12.


Trump inherited most of it in 2000 when his mother died. He had money before that from gifts though.


> that rate of return is (roughly) less than 2% yearly.

Don't forget to factor in Trumps' heavy spending over those years which greatly reduces his rate of return. You could just as easily say that he is keeping his value level with respect to inflation and spending the rest.


The whole reason that the investment industry exists is because nobody puts that much money at risk in an index fund. Hedge funds literally exist for that reason. This whole idea that trump would drop his wealth in an index fund is propaganda, its meant to manipulate you about trumps incompetency.


With that much $$ Mr Trump should have done better than the index if he is that good.

And at least in the UK people and families that want preserve wealth actually run their own funds. There are a number of listed self managed Investment trusts (with low TER) based on preserving family wealth.

RIT Capital Partners is one example 12.6% pa for 30 years its base was Rothschild family money and there are others Much older.


There are thousands of family funds in the US.


Publicly listed? ones or just a name for wealth managers


According to actual tax filings, he inherited 600 mil in the year 2000 in the form of NYC real estate, which of left untouched would be north of 10 bil now.


Wow this is hilarious, but are the KK crew actually dumb? I don't think so. Where do you think Silicon Valley sits on this graph? Is Silicon Valley is a show for smart people about smart and dumb people?


I think Silicon Valley needs its own Venn diagram of "self aware" and "not self aware". That said, I can't think of any shows that adopt the Silicon Valley mindset hook, line and sinker. There was an awful Bravo reality show a few years ago though.

That said, Silicon Valley probably belongs on both sides of the Venn diagram. Lots of people enjoying the show without realising they are the joke.


Do 3D Venn diagrams exist?


Yes, if you want to depict the relationships between four sets.


I think the claim is more like the Kardashians play dumb characters [who happen to have their real-life names].


I use this simple litmus test: if it has a laugh-track, then it's for dumb people.


Not a perfect rule... Kids In The Hall demonstrated for me, that in some cases, audience laughter adds an acutely essential ingredient to comedic performances.

The Kids In The Hall is a seminal example of sketch comedy, but as a broadcast show, the audio from the live audience had to be engineered into the sound channel of the program, since live performances have to mic the audience, to capture their laughs as part of the recording, and mix it properly, so that its volume pairs well with the broadcast performance, just like a sporting event.

The show really does hold up, years after the original recordings, still proving funny and awesome. But it turns out that the sounds of the audience change the whole dynamic of the humor. This is demonstrable if you stand it next to their movie, Brain Candy, which is also funny and watchable, but a different experience, without the noise of an audience.

You could argue that the performers have had their performances altered by the demands of improvisation and the give-and-take interaction that occurs with a live audience, but in retrospect, as a viewer watching the same show twenty years later, I don't really care about whether the audience effects are manufactured or not.

The truth is, the quality of the show has the sounds of the audience built into it as an integral quality, that boosts the entertainment value of the show.

The Kids In The Hall seem to have realized that the live improvisation really was a strong aspect of what made their show good, which is why they opted to engage in touring as a live show, instead of continuing as a broadcast series. I think if anyone were so inclined, though, the right kind of genius could be applied purely as post-production. It's just that the authenticity is preferred for obvious reasons, and ultimately, it's probably actually cheaper to just be talented.


That's a bad test. It mainly just filters out shows filmed in front of a live audience.

If you film a comedy in front of a live audience, the actors have to adjust their delivery to speak around the laughter. If you take the laughter out of the final cut the pauses were the actors were waiting for the laughter to die down make it weird and awkward.

If a scene only needs one or two takes to get right, they can just go with the laughter from the live audience. If it takes several takes, they will still be getting laughter from the live audience, and so changing the timing of the delivery, but it won't be as intense as it should be for the quality of the joke, and if that live laughter was used it could change the perception of the joke for the broadcast audience. (Our perception of a joke is influenced by how we think others perceive it).

Hence, if you use a late take you need to replace the late take live laughter with either earlier take live laughter or laughter from a laugh library.


Is BBT filmed in front of an audience? I thought OP's point was it's a laugh track, and there are no people there actually laughing.



The it crowd is one of my absolute favorite shows. Maybe it will work better without a laugh track but there are a lot of British shows id rather have with a track than without the show in my life.


The IT Crowd was filmed before a live audience - it didn't have a laugh track.


So is The Big Bang Theory


No it wasn’t ye mad thing


I should have provided a source: https://youtu.be/sIQNXH8yHsk?t=31


Wow. They really did!

There's a lot of stuff filmed outside the studio though I'm certain they don't have a live audience for. The IT Crowd does use a laughter track a lot of the time.


Yeah, they film those parts before the live recording and then show them on a screen to the audience to get reaction audio, and also so the audience has context for later live scenes. It's a surprisingly involved process.


Yes it was.


I can never get over how ahead of its time the IT crowd was. I just went back and watched a couple episodes and it still nails many things right on the head


I didn't like the IT Crowd but if you want something ahead of its time, track down Nathan Barley. It kind of foreshadows the rise of vlogging, memes and 'lad culture' but was released in 2005. Written by Charlie Brooker and Chris Morris.


The laugh track was a huge part of TV up until the last couple decades, seems unfair to characterize it like that.

https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/the-laff-box/


I use this: "if I don't like it, it's for dumb people" :^)


I was surprised to (re)discover that Monty Python had a laugh track.


Not Seinfeld.


Partly true: Seinfeld used a laugh track, and also a real audience for stuff like scenes in Jerry's apartment.

https://www.quora.com/Did-Seinfeld-use-a-laugh-track-a-live-...


It only works for recent shows. Outside of the last decade or two, every sitcom had to have a laugh track, period.


> Outside of the last decade or two, every sitcom had to have a laugh track, period.

More correct: every live action sitcom used a laugh track and/or live studio audience.


The Simpsons didn't.


I think Simpsons managed to trick the powers that be into classifying it as a cartoon instead of a sitcom. Different rules.


One of the benefits of watching dubbed versions of some shows is that it does away with that crap.

Really. It's probably on the Top 3 stupid gimmicks by showbiz bigwigs together with the Loudness Wars and anti-piracy messages on original DVDs


Laugh tracks are mostly a litmus test for era rather than quality, and also disproportionately affect British comedy, which is excellent.


That depends MASH was broadcast without the laugh track in the UK.


Counterpoint: Blackadder.


MASH begs to differ.


All of those shows have an acceptable time, place and use for me.


Imo whoever made this doesn’t understand how smart and savvy the family matriarch is.


I think Mike Judge is the difference here. He strikes me as a genius when it comes to understanding human behavior.


>He strikes me as a genius when it comes to understanding human behavior

- Office Space, check!

- Idiocracy, check!

- Silicon Valley, check!

For Silicon Valley it helps he's actually worked for a startup, a hardware one at that.


Idiocracy is, sadly, a bit too prophetic.


In the US, we have been living it for 2 years.


Don't forget King of the Hill. That's a double check right there.


even Beavis and Butthead captured defiant male teens pretty well


Beavis and Butthead are hugely underrated. I recall people making fun of me for watching it back in the 90’s. It was almost the only TV I ever watched.


They were the best music critics of the 90s.


The DVDs were disappointing because they cut out all the videos which were the best parts. I loved their commentary.


Did you watch the new season (2011)? It was pretty good.


Didn’t know there was a new one. Thanks for the tip will check it out.


If you squint a little bit, Tom Anderson is basically proto-Hank Hill.


Office Space and Silicon Valley, sure, but Idiocracy has aged _horribly_.

That movie is full of memes that haven't been relevant since the mid-00s (and specifically, the humor in the movie has a distinct Bush-era vibe which straight-up feels foreign in 2018... it feels like a period piece even though it's set in the future), and I lost whatever enjoyment of it that I had left when actual Neo-Nazis began using the movie to promote their pseudoscience about race and intelligence.


> Idiocracy has aged _horribly_.

Are you sure? Who is the POTUS now?


And in the movie the POTUS was Dwayne Camacho an ex pro wrestler... and in real life many people want an ex pro wrestler named Dwayne Johnson to run for POTUS as an improvement to the current POTUS?!

I'd say you can't make this stuff up, but Mike Judge made this stuff up before it was real life!


The current POTUS is also an ex pro wrestler.


Yup, 2 WrestleMania events.


When I said "Bush-era", I was talking more of the national zeitgeist during Bush's presidency and not so much about how Bush himself was perceived.

The Bush era—or rather the core of the era, from about 2002 to 2007 (i.e. after the dust from 9/11 settled and before the housing crisis), was a boom time, and much of the future situation feels like it comes from "what if this boom lasts forever?" (i.e. society becomes wealthy enough to automate everything, so people just sit around and watch Ow My Balls and drink Brawndo every day instead of having to work). Something made nowadays would probably start with a premise that comes from "Millenials can't afford anything".

Mainstream culture during the Bush era was also before the sudden explosion in nerd culture. Superheroes hadn't eaten the entertainment industry yet, nostalgia wasn't yet a driving force in pop culture, and it was still uncool to admit that you enjoy RPGs or reading comic books or doing whatever else nerds do. A parody of modern cultural memes would resemble Ready Player One more than Idiocracy, and Ready Player One wasn't even intended as parody. Instead, Idiocracy spends a lot of time lampooning shock reality TV (e.g. Ow My Balls), which was a huge thing in the mid-00s with shows like Jackass and Fear Factor but isn't big anymore. And the general culture is different. Like, you had people saying things like "you talk faggy", which sadly was common in real life during the mid-00s, and as such it was a ripe target for parody, but would be completely taboo now. Even in bro-culture you wouldn't see that in 2018 (I mean, there's still a lot of homophobia around, but you don't see those slurs dropped casually anymore), and so a parody of modern bro-culture probably wouldn't even mention it. TBH, a parody of modern bro-culture would probably involve MRAs and redpillers and pseudo-intellectuals who worship Jordan Peterson.

Like, the _idea_ of a movie about the future being full of stupid people would still be relevant in 2018 (and you can thank Trump for that), but it wouldn't be Idiocracy because Idiocracy was more about parodying mid-00s pop culture than anything else. I'd imagine a late-10s Idiocracy would involve some combination of nerd culture turned mainstream eating the world, '90s nostalgia (with "only '90s kids remember" somehow being reiterated over and over 500 years in the future), avocado toast, and nobody being able to afford a house.


This is a pretty great pop cultural analysis of American society of when Idiocracy was created.

I think the movie is a reflection of the time it was created, but it's a little less tied to that moment than you think. If you think of it as a subversion of the generic Jetsons vision of automation leading to mass complacency then it could be a more universal film than you portray it as. (Probably pre-Jetsons but '50s postwar sci-fi probably exemplifies that vision the best. Or maybe it extends further back, and the Idiocrats are just tackier versions of the Eloi from Wells.)

I think the big realization we have now is that automation is far less utopian than we expected, it comes with complications and externalities and inequality, with a lot of what we have now is just abstracting away work so that someone less well-off and farther away is doing it. Funnily enough one minor "plothole" I always had with Idiocracy is that if everyone is stupid, how were the machines still semi-functional? How did their society produce the cameramen at the monster truck death rally? Obviously, the whole movie is a satire or lampoon, but it made me think how society could culturally regress while still remaining technologically semi-functional, buoyed by artifacts of the ancient past like the Eloi or some descendent race from a fantasy setting.

I think if you were to make an Idiocracy today it would have to be focused on how social media and the 24/7 online culture have disrupted the way we relate to one another. Instead of 1001 channels of trashy reality TV it would be conspiracy theories and fringe ideas and charlatans appealing to both emotion and pseudo-logic. (Interspersed with unboxing videos and ASMR and live-streaming, sure.) It feels like anti-intellectualism today is fueled more by anger and zeal (this applies to all political stripes). The current boom feels a lot less even and people are far more desperate and stressed out. Our attention spans are even more frayed. Whereas the original Idiocracy was more about complacency birthed from prosperity, as you pointed out. (Though that rather ignores specific Bush administration policies that could be criticized as anti-intellectual, whether culture wars at home or military aggression abroad. But maybe their absence from that film makes it, as I mentioned earlier, more generic.)


> The Bush era—or rather the core of the era, from about 2002 to 2007 (i.e. after the dust from 9/11 settled and before the housing crisis), was a boom time

It was a fairly modest aggregate growth period with unusually poor distributional effects, where the bottom 3 quintiles so real income drops and the fourth was flat.

Which is actually a lot like the subsequent expansions.

> what if this boom lasts forever?" (i.e. society becomes wealthy enough to automate everything, so people just sit around and watch Ow My Balls and drink Brawndo every day instead of having to work).

Er, the trend of automation and distraction hasn't really changed (indeed, it's gained even more cultural currency), though the shock genre has moved from reality TV to online video venues, often relayed by social media; not any less of a thing, just a slightly different medium. Though I guess a VR headset worn on the smart toilet would be more 2018 dystopian futurism than the big screen.

> Like, you had people saying things like "you talk faggy", which sadly was common in real life during the mid-00s, and as such it was a ripe target for parody, but would be completely taboo now.

No, using slurs implying homosexuality and lack of manliness as anti-intellectual insults isn't less of thing now than it was then. If anything, both anti-intellectualism, it's time to homophobia, and it's tendency to conflate those two opposed things has increased.

> but you don't see those slurs dropped casually anymore

I've seen them about as much in the last two years (including on mass media outlets) as I did in the whole of the 1990s, in the specific confluence of homophobic insults with anti-intellectualism. Less of “gay” as a generic equivalent of “bad”, sure, but that wasn't the context of “you talk faggy”.


Thanks, I was really baffled to see that comment.


Yeah, Idiocracy is kind of insidiously awful because it thinks that cultural changes are actually genetic. You don't have to follow its arguments very far at all to come to the conclusion that ignorance can be fixed, not by education, but by restricting breeding rights. We all know where that leads.

(Relevant xkcd: https://xkcd.com/603/)


> Yeah, Idiocracy is kind of insidiously awful because it thinks that cultural changes are actually genetic.

But...they are (or, rather, they can reasonably be expected to produce genetic changes which reinforce themselves.) Because cultural changes effect mate selection, and also otherwise improve the relative fitness of those naturally inclined to thrive in the cultural environment.


Most people who obsess over celebrities, or fall for every ad they see, or whatever else Idiocracy thinks is the downfall of society, aren't mentally impaired. They were raised in a society that discourages critical thinking skills and devalues education. They're ignorant, in other words. You don't fix ignorance with eugenics. You fix it with education.


A more healthy and smart society?


Have you heard about the story of eugenics and Nazi Germany?


It seems to me the conditions are completely different.

There’s nothing racial or political about this.

It’s certainly ethically dubious. And I’m not certain it actually has any effect.


Which group of people do you trust to decide which other groups should be allowed to continue and which should become extinct, without any bias or personal preference?

Eugenics is always political.

> It’s certainly ethically dubious. And I’m not certain it actually has any effect.

Then why are you defending it? I'm confused.


If it does works it is entirely possible it will lead to a healthier and smarter society.

I see it mainly as an implementation problem, not necessarily objectively bad by itself.

A bit like communism :)


> If it does works it is entirely possible it will lead to a healthier and smarter society.

Sure, and if Elon Musk invented flying hamburgers we could solve world hunger, which is just about as plausible as successfully using genetic selection to solve a non-genetic problem. The premise is false; anything that proceeds from a false premise is useless.


People always say that, but it basically means they refuse to even think about a problem because of a preconception that it is impossible.

I guess that’s basically why I often feel driven to make comments like the one I started with.


Not to mention how he used to work in Silicon Valley.



> Big Bang Theory

Oh how I loathed that show, especially at height of its popularity. I got so tired of smiling and nodding (or rolling my eyes, depending on who it was) as non-technical people at work and even my mother-in-law made it clear they thought of me when they watched that show (simply because I was the "smart engineer", so obviously a huge nerd with no social ability). None of these people were my age though, they were all signficantly older and Silicon Valley would have likely been much too sophisticated for them.


> ... I was the "smart engineer", so obviously a huge nerd with no social ability...

> I got so tired of smiling and nodding (or rolling my eyes, depending on who it was)...

> ... Silicon Valley would have likely been much too sophisticated for them.

Not to get personal, and I'm sure you're more empathetic in real life, but your frustrations might seem like geeky egotism to your coworkers.


I'm being a bit over-dramatic, truth be told (I never had the courage to roll my eyes at any of them). I put "smart engineer" in quotes because that was really just a label (for my MIL, it meant I was the only engineer in the family, for people in the company, I was one of many smart nerdy folk). I'm primarily a self-deprecating guy with a healthy bout of impostor syndrome once in a while.

My strong dislike from BBT comes mainly from people associating me with a show that I find wholly unfunny. Not because it makes fun of geekdom and I don't like that, but simply because I don't find it funny at all. I saw a lot of parallels in the type of comedy on BBT and that on "2 and a half men" and could never understand their high ratings.


Best description I've ever seen for TBBT is "geek blackface".


You know, I was fine with them making fun of the geeks (essentially me) when it was funny. When it stopped to be funny - which is by now years ago - it just became a silly pointless caricature.


did the authors of that show ever apologize?


Chuck Lorre? He’s utterly apologetic... all the way to the bank.


Apologize to who?


Mike Judge is really great at capturing Americana. Bevis and Butthead was great at capturing the 90s MTV youth, King of the Hill for Texas/country/southern stuff and Silicon Valley has been laugh out loud funny for me.


Mike Judge predicted how democracy turns to idiocracy 10 years ago. i wonder what he thinks about the future of tech


> i wonder what he thinks about the future of tech

Have you watched SV?

Season 1 ends with TechCrunch Disrupt, where founders nervously stammer on stage about how their "mobile-first, local-first social media network" will "make the world a better place".


yeah that's the present. or rather, mo-lo-so is a few years old now


[flagged]


This has no place on HN


As someone who fits almost all of the boxes for people Big Bang Theory has made fun of, I still enjoy the series immensely, as I have since it started. Sometimes I wonder if it just hits too close to the truth for some people, or if on the opposite end, they are too detached from the sort of people it characterizes and hence don't see where it draws from.

Silicon Valley is a very different show, but definitely on solid ground. And it's unique in that it seems quite popular amongst people its blatantly making fun of.


BBT laughs AT nerds, reinforcing stereotypes in non-nerds and reassuring the mainstream about its superiority.

SV laughs WITH nerds, satirising the excesses of a culture that is presented as filthy rich and dominant beyond belief. It also deals with the actual wet dreams of the culture in a fairly realistic way.

Think about the material that a dim bully could get from BBT (tons), versus what he could get from SV (very little). That’s all the difference.


>BBT laughs AT nerds, reinforcing stereotypes in non-nerds and reassuring the mainstream about its superiority.

BBT definitely laughs at nerds. But I don't think reassures the mainstream about its superiority. The characters on BBT are depicted as god-tier geniuses that are successful at doing important work. The nerds are the protagonists.

SV on the other really sticks it to developers and VC. I don't get a sense the SV writers respect was the valley does at all.

SV is just about 20 times funnier though.


I haven't watched a great deal of BBT, i'm not a fan, just what I've caught watching with other people.

I've never seen an episode where they were depicted in actually doing work, just in talking about their social group and the character interaction. They could have all been sitting in a coffee shop or bar for all of the links to their job it had. Whereas SV does have content about their life outside of work, a lot of the comedy comes from their "jobs".

I also really don't think the BBT people are depicted as genius'. One episode I do remember is when one of them was struggling with a physics problem with electron behaviour. He finally solved the problem that had been plaguing him (a 'super smart' physics researcher, because he started thinking of the electrons as waves, and not as particles. Which any 16(17)-year-old physics student would have realized in about a minute.


BBT has quite a few episodes portraying work at the university, but it's definitely a minor amount, and it's not really intended to be scientifically accurate bleeding edge science. Big Bang Theory is far more worried about getting right details of various super heroes than presenting an education on theoretical physics.


BBT is punching down not up.


I think in both shows there are occasions where you laugh with AND at the "nerds". I think the problem is a lot of people judge BBT without even seeing more than a couple episodes.


IMHO it doesn't matter who a show laughs at - the essence of comedy is offense. My problem with BBT is that it just isn't funny


BBT is a great foil for SV. It's caricature vs satire.

BBT is outsiders laughing at the image of a nerd archetype many have in their head. It can be entertaining; it can tell you a lot about their relationship with that archetype. But as with all caricature, the distorted image can be a little ouchy.

SV satirizes insider territory with surprising resolution. It can be entertaining; it can tell people a lot about the culture. Where it's ouchy, it's ouchy because the truth can be painful as well as funny.


Pardon my ignorance but what did big bang theory got wrong?


The characters, especially the female characters, were just too far off the mark. Also, too many girl-meets-boy plot lines. It got worse as the show went along with no new ideas. "Friends" with nerd jokes.

(I live next door to Pasadena and am acquainted with many Caltechers.)


Pardon the terminology, but I consider that show to be Nerd-Blackface. I'm not sure how else to describe it. I find how the show deals with anything technical to be an affront to intelligence in general.


I think you set your expectations way to high if you expect a general-appeal TV show to get what theoretical physicists to right. That said, a couple of moments were pretty good - e.g. when the guys were thinking about something with "eye of the tiger" playing on the background. Nice lampshading of the fact that it's impossible to show intellectual work on TV. They had some pretty good moments early on. They should've stopped there.


Yes! That scene was hilarious. I also like the scene when they're super excited that they hooked a lamp up to a port on the open internet and someone turned it on. Then someone asks, why spend the time to do this? And they respond, because we can. It reminded me of me and my friends in college, and the response we would get for some of the things we did.


"Nerd-minstrelsy" is a better term


Seems like the same thing...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minstrel_show

>The minstrel show, or minstrelsy, was an American form of entertainment developed in the early 19th century. Each show consisted of comic skits, variety acts, dancing, and music performances that mocked people specifically of African descent. The shows were performed by white people in make-up or blackface for the purpose of playing the role of black people.


They aren't the same thing: minstrelsy is the root offensive thing, blackface is offensive by association with minstrelsy. “Nerd blackface” could be any instance of non-nerds portraying nerds [0], “nerd minstrelsy” would, at least if you take the modern objection as defining [1], be the unfavorable portrayal of nerds (whether by actual nerds or non-nerds) for the entertainment of non-nerds.

[0] which is problematic as a blanket characterization of TBBT, though it may apply to some players; it seems pretty clearly not to apply to Dr. Bialik, for instance.

[1] historically, from some quarters it was roundly attacked on the opposite basis, for excessively sympathetic portrayal of blacks, especially during slavery, and especially for it's frequent positive (from the viewpoint of those objecting) portrayal of runaway slaves.


> Pardon the terminology, but I consider that show to be Nerd-Blackface.

I find that characterization to be as stupid and insensitive as referring to highly paid tech workers in the Bay Area as slaves.


All comedy exaggerates and stereotypes. You are just butthurt that people like you are the butt of the joke.

And the butthurt is misplaced. The nerds of the show are definitely a source of the comedy but they are protagonists you are supposed to root for. They have foibles but generally, you are supposed to respect their intelligence and commitment to science, etc.

It's a far cry from steve urkle.

It's much much much closer to a George Lopez show making fun of Mexicans than to Minstrel shows.


I think TBBT started out fine, but over the time it it went from laughing with and about geeks to just laughing about geeks.


I might describe it as a rapid descent into Flanderization.


or laughing at nerds, blatantly so


It's a fairly traditional laugh-track sitcom with "lol nerds" as the window dressing. It's just fine as a sitcom, if you like sitcoms (I do) but actual nerds love bashing it since, surprise surprise, a network sitcom's characters are more caricatures than actual nuanced characters.


Watch a video of Big Bang Theory without a laugh track and all of your questions will be answered: https://youtu.be/jKS3MGriZcs


I’m just as much of a bbt hater as the next guy but ftr - messing up with timing will render most jokes not working


All of these commenters seem genuinely offended by the demographic representations on the show but I'm here to tell you, it's awful because of the terrible writing, predictable humor, reliance on a laugh track to sell its "jokes" and it's overall just aimless and boring.


I'm with you. I'm not quite sure what elevated it beyond "yet-another-sitcom" in the eyes of so many people, but it really seemed like standard sit-com fare to me, the few times I watched it (terrible writing, predictable humor, etc).


Someone on a podcast I listen to called it "nerd blackface", which I think is a fair assessment. The main characters have so many different stereotypes and so many different personality quirks rammed into singular people that it's borderline ridiculous; they don't feel like real people. It's still a really well-written show though, but many people will choose to blindly hate them instead. Much like the same hate Lorre's other show, Two and a Half Men (Sheen era), got.


Using a laugh track.


Jonathan McIntosh sums it up as complicit geek masculinity and adorkable misogyny:

http://popculturedetective.agency/2017/complicit-geek-mascul... http://popculturedetective.agency/2017/the-adorkable-misogyn...


I was going to post the same videos. It's sad to see how many downvotes you are getting.


They got too popular.


I watched a bunch of Halt and Catch Fire. It's trying hard to be an accurate history of the early days of the internet, but at the same time it's a melodrama conveyed by ridiculously good-looking and wildly emotional people.


Sometimes I feel like it got out of hand with how emotional they made the characters.


I don't understand the Big Band Theory hate. Maybe it looks weird and exaggerated to most tech people for people to act like that, but I've definitely seen that type of behavior with the people I've spoken to in academia. It's also a pretty funny show IMO.

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