The top 6 techie television shows
Technology is evolving at a rapid pace – so fast that many of us don’t even blink an eye at the changes anymore. This tech omnipotence means it’s only fitting that more and more tech-themed television shows are appearing on our airwaves. So, grab a cup of Java and take a look at some of the best techie TV shows to grace our screens:
Mr Robot (2015 – present)
Mr Robot captured the imagination of the world ever since the first episode aired. This techno thriller follows computer programmer Elliot Alderson, an anti-social computer programmer who works as a cybersecurity engineer by day. He is recruited by an anarchist only known as Mr Robot to join an underground group of hacktivists who call themselves Fsociety. The ragtag group’s biggest mission is to erase everyone’s debts by taking out multinational conglomerate E Corp (aptly dubbed Evil Corp by Elliot).
We can’t give away too much of what happens next because there are so many twists and turns (no spoilers to be found here!). It is a gritty, somewhat unsettling series with great cinematography and focus on an anti-establishment culture. The writer Sam Esmail cites various films as his inspiration for the show. The character of Elliot is inspired by Fight Club (which is very clear to see in the first season), the narration style borrows from Taxi Driver, the music style is similar to Risky Business and character development comes straight from Blade Runner.
Fun fact: Each episode title of Mr Robot’s first season is formatted to look like a video file, for example “eps1.0_hellofriend.mov”. The second season’s titles use encrypted file formats like “eps2.0_unm4sk-pt1.tc”.
The IT Crowd (2006 – 2013)
The IT Crowd is an iconic British sitcom centred around Roy and Moss, a two-man tech support team. They are isolated in the gloomy and dull basement of the fictitious Reynholm Industries alongside their reluctant “relationship manager” Jen.
Some of the running themes include Roy’s reluctance to answer the phone, their stock standard answers to common IT questions (“Have you tried turning it on and off again?”), their fellow employees being either oblivious to their existence or hating them and Moss’ intricate technical knowledge that boggles the minds of those around him.
Fun fact: The writer of the show, Graham Linehan, was inspired to create The IT Crowd after receiving a visit from a PC repair man with questionable interpersonal skills.
Silicon Valley (2014 – present)
Silicon Valley in San Francisco is a hotbed for startups and some of the world’s biggest tech corporations (like Google, Facebook and Netflix) are headquartered there. The HBO comedy series of the same name focuses on introverted computer programmer Richard Hendricks and his dream of striking it rich in the tech world. He develops a superior search algorithm whilst working his day job. When his algorhithm grabs the attention of others, Richard gets caught between either staying at his current job and handing over the algorithm to his boss or taking a chance with a wealthy venture capitalist.
This series was based on writer Mike Judge’s personal experiences as an engineer in Silicon Valley during the 1980s. Many have praised this satire for its accurate portrayal of the socio-cultural environment within Silicon Valley, and especially highlighting the dichotomy between struggling entrepreneurs and rich tech bosses who seem to hold all of the power.
Fun fact: The Weissman Score, the fictional middle-out compression algorhithm developed by Richard, was created in conjunction with Stanford researchers to ensure believability. The algorhithm is meant to help compress files in a way that protects the fidelity of the file and makes large packets of data easier to transmit. However, because of this made-up algorhithm, researchers have found that it is indeed possible to make it work in real life and thus make file compression twice as fast as is possible with current models.
Halt and Catch Fire (2014 – present)
This period drama follows engineering revolutionary Joe MacMillan (played by Lee Pace of Pushing Daisies fame) during the 1980s personal computing boom. He envisions building a computer that is great enough to take down powerful tech giants like IBM and Apple.
The title Halt and Catch Fire refers to HCF, a machine code instruction that can cause a computer’s central processing to stop working completely. In essence, it refers to how MacMillan plans to halt those in power with his creation. If you’re interested in how the technological world as we know it came to be, then this is the show for you.
Person of Interest (2011 – 2016)
Big Brother is watching! Billionaire computer genius Harold Finch invents a machine that is able to detect acts of terror before they happen (very much like the premise of the film Minority Report). The machine does this by monitoring every phone, surveillance camera and email worldwide.
Finch eventually discovers that this machine’s powers extend to violent crimes committed by ordinary people and asks the government if he could intervene in these everyday transgressions but they deem it ‘irrelevant’. Finch builds a backdoor into the system so that he can help those affected by everyday crimes but ends up having to do this in secret, while on the run from authorities.
Chuck (2007 – 2012)
Twenty-something Chuck Bartowski works as a computer service expert at Buy More as part of the Nerd Herd. His life is turned upside-down when he receives an encoded email from an old friend now working for the CIA. The information in the email, containing the United States’ greatest spy secrets, somehow becomes permanently embedded in Chuck’s brain. The CIA and NSA discovers this and decides to use Chuck as part of their top-secret missions.
The series is a great mix of comedy, action and drama. Chuck has a major fanbase that managed to save the series from getting the chop after only two seasons.
Fun fact: The main character usually wears Converse Chuck Taylors, often referred to only as “Chucks”.