Reality TV has finally arrived in Silicon Valley. That’s right, Bravo TV, the cable network that brought you such great shows like Kathy, Project Runway, Shahs of Sunset, Real Housewives of [name your city], Top Model, America’s Next Top Model, and many others, is perhaps the first network to try and break through and pioneer a reality/docu-series about the tech industry right here in the San Francisco Bay Area. It’s tentatively called “Silicon Valley” and it’s being produced by the network with advised by Randi Zuckerberg, sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, former marketing head at the social network, and now an entrepreneur with her R to Z media company.
In typical Bravo TV fashion, “Silicon Valley” looks to be similar to their other reality shows, but the goal appears to be to cast a spotlight on the inner workings of the what life is like in the tech capital of the world. Expected to air this season, “Silicon Valley” has received some mixed reactions–in fact, it’s become quite polarizing. Mrs. Zuckerberg defends what is portrayed in “Silicon Valley” when in a statement to the local NBC affiliate here: “I’m a strong believer in innovation and entrepreneurship and hope that through this series, other people will be inspired to build the next break out companies and technologies.” The hope is sincerely there and for many people who happen to be involved in that hustle, they’re praying that the series does what they do here some justice and brings honor to their profession and their quest in trying to create something that will change the world.
The inaugural season of “Silicon Valley” will feature a diverse cast of characters that is being described as “dynamic, wealthy, unapologetic, insufferable, and, with varying degrees of success, camera-ready”. What this means exactly is unknown–maybe it’s nothing more than just cable network advertising hype to get people psyched to watch the premiere. Nevertheless, the SFist has outlined who the first season of characters will be. Perhaps the most noticeable name in the tech industry is The Next Web’s Hermione Way (shown here on the left), her brother Ben Way who is defined as the “first dot com kid in Europe, after launching companies at the age of 15″, Kim Taylor of Ampush Media, model Jay Holanda, Futureleap founder Marcus Lovingood, Carsabi founder Dwight Crow, and David Murray. These names aren’t well-known names of the tech world, nor should they be. While I’m sure more people would be able to recognize well-known entrepreneurs and Silicon Valley “celebs” like Mark Zuckerberg, Robert Scoble, Guy Kawasaki, Ev Williams, MC Hammer, etc., it seems that rather that continue to promote these already popular individuals, the goal of “Silicon Valley” should be to take the up-and-coming individuals who are making a difference and hopefully make them into something.
However, while some might think that “Silicon Valley” is going to be good for the industry, on the opposite side of the spectrum, there are those detractors who oppose what is being portrayed by simply looking at the trailer released by Bravo TV. Maybe it’s the shock value that Bravo TV wanted to get, or maybe the network executives just don’t get what the real Silicon Valley is about, but the trailer for the series shows people partying, shirts off, excessively drinking and basically being ripped right out of a scene from Cruel Intentions. In a rather scathing post on PandoDaily by its editor, Sarah Lacy, to Mrs. Zuckerberg, it seems that “Silicon Valley” will be an embarrassment to the industry and cast a poor light on the community. From her assessment of the preview, Mrs. Lacy writes:
In case you haven’t seen [the preview], the show depicts people drinking, shirtless in clubs, and standing in front of a walk-in closet of suits as some sort of “insider look” at Silicon Valley. It is quite literally making us look like “The Jersey Shore,” only without the tans. Anyone who has spent a day here knows just how bastardized that is. It’s ridiculous really.
It seems that Mrs. Lacy is making a comparison of Mrs. Zuckerberg’s work with “Silicon Valley” with the production of “The Social Network” created by Aaron Sorkin. Is it a fair assessment? Perhaps, but we only see 30 seconds of what it’s all about and there’s a greater potential of trying to show what’s innovative and good coming from the San Francisco Bay Area. But also keep in mind that this isn’t necessarily the first time a series on entrepreneurs was done here. Just last year, CNN’s Soledad O’Brien hosted a documentary where she covered startups at the NewMe Accelerator and their journey to go from ideation to demo day and their search for funding. It was during that series where TechCrunch founder and CrunchFund partner, Michael Arrington, was the subject of an alleged hit piece where he supposedly made some awkward remarks.
What perception “Silicon Valley” will leave with people remains to be seen, but since Mrs. Zuckerberg has taken on an executive producer/advisory role, hopefully she’ll be able to help steer the show away from the “Real Housewives” type series and make it into something where viewers will be able to cheer on the technology innovation and support the efforts by the featured entrepreneurs. She’s also said that she “respects that the cast in this show are all trying to make something of themselves. Some are newcomers to Silicon Valley. Some were anonymous cogs within bigger companies who chose to leave and create their own path…” We’ll just have to wait until the reviews and the ratings are in to get a better understanding of whether she’s done just that or turned it into the next sequel to “Jersey Shore”. I, for one, am not interested in who’s going to play Pauly D or Snooki.
Image Credit: Bravo TV