Editor’s Note: We had Lynda Harrison, writer Drew Olanoff’s mom, review an advance copy of the first episode of Bravo’s “Start Ups: Silicon Valley,” premiering Monday, November 5th. Because we can. Harrison, a nurse who loves to sew, lives in New Jersey and tweets at @sw33ti3.
I really wanted to watch this program with an open mind, despite the fact that it is on Bravo, which is slowly devolving into a network of unreal reality shows. I wanted to like it because I find brilliant people in high-pressure situations fascinating. I wanted to know what it is like to be creative, intense and articulate in the world of tech. But that’s not what “Start Ups: Silicon Valley” delivered.
Where do I start? Does everyone in Silicon Valley look like Sarah Austin, Kim & Hermione? Are all the guys wasted and hung over like Dwight? Where are the Wozniaks and Jobses? I am absolutely sure there are smart plain or even ugly people who live and work there. Perhaps they are all kept in the basement hunched over their computers doing the hard work while the “beautiful people” have all the marketing and camera time.
What I saw in “Start Ups: Silicon Valley” was a weird amalgamation of “Big Brother,”"Jersey Shore” and any high school on any day. I could watch the movie “Animal House” if I wanted that type of entertainment. Where was the substance? I would have liked to see some actual work highlighted; meetings, strategizing, brainstorming versus the glorification of a vapid, decadent party lifestyle.
Where was the tech? Where was the science behind the apps? Honestly, if I had to see Dwight Crow or Ben Way take off their shirts one more time, I was going to throw up. Yes, brains and beauty can coexist, but they sure don’t in “Start Ups: Silicon Valley.”
Even with all of that said, I am sure there is an audience for this program. The same people who can’t miss an episode of “The Bachelor” or “The Real Housewives of Wherever” will watch to see if Dwight makes a further fool of himself or if Sarah and Hermione get into a cat fight. And what about Ben and Sarah, can their fledgling relationship survive amidst the estrogen-powered strife?
This is one-dimensional escapist fare which can be fun to watch. As long as consumers clamor to keep up with everything Kardashian, there will be a ready audience for this program. But it will not appeal to those who want an inside glimpse of what drives the tech industry and the talented people who inhabit this world.
If the show’s makers want to garner a broader audience, they should include the real creative process. Where do startup ideas come from? What research is done to get them off the ground? What happens when an idea fails or there is no funding? There is real drama in actual life situations. If, as the show states, 90% of start-ups fail what happens to those people? Do they develop new ideas, continue to party like there’s no tomorrow or do they move in with Mom and Dad and get “regular” jobs.
My final take away from this show: If this really is Silicon Valley reality then I’m getting on a plane and fetching my son home from California before it is too late.