Published 2:15 pm, Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Getty Images; “Silicon Valley”/HBO
You may not have picked up on the connection between gangsta rap and tech-savvy comedy “Silicon Valley,” but it’s there.
Something “Silicon Valley” creator Mike Judge reportedly heard the rap pioneer and former NWA member Dr. Dre say became a running mantra on the HBO show.
“We really do pride ourselves on trying to get it right,” “Silicon Valley” executive producer Clay Tarver told Business Insider while promoting the new release of season three on DVD and Blu-ray.
“We spend a lot of time on research,” Tarver said. “Mike Judge always references this Dr. Dre quote: ‘If it plays in the hood, it will play everywhere.’ And that was sort of the idea. If we get it right for the people who know, I think everyone else — even if they don’t get every reference or dog whistle — they’ll sense some authenticity here.”
Staying true to that philosophy has served the show well. “Silicon Valley” is often lauded by tech pros for getting the details of the industry right — from what people wear to the tricks of the trade and spoofing the valley’s biggest players.
“The truth is almost any of the details that we have here in the show, the real ones are always more interesting than something we could make up,” Tarver said.
The show, which returns for its fourth season on April 23, goes to great lengths to preserve its authenticity, including through its research team. In many cases, it’s that team’s job to temper the dreams of the writers and producers with actual examples in the real world.
“We have a really heavy research team that does a great job,” Tarver said. “We’ll have an idea of maybe what we’re looking for. They’ll go and research it and they come back with, ‘How about this?’ And it’s a little different than what we were thinking, but almost always, as I said, the real thing is more interesting than something a bunch of writers can make up.”
The show will also bring on consultants who are actually experiencing what’s happening on the show. On the third season, for example, Pied Piper was finally ready to offer its data-compression system to the market. In order to make that launch as realistic as possible, the show brought on the creator of real-life startup Simplivity, which makes a very similar hardware box for businesses.
“We really wanted to know what it’s like for a small company when it goes from being in a house into an office,” Tarver said. “For example, we talked to a bunch of companies and they were like, ‘Oh, well, the first thing is there would be a bunch of sales guys nobody knows.’ And, of course, we put that in.”
Yet despite all the planning and research, the tech industry moves at lightning speed. It can be tough for a show with a long production cycle to keep up. So, the show’s authenticity has also benefited from a little luck.
“It’s brutal,” Tarver told us of the industry’s breakneck pace. “Something will be in the news, and everyone will be like, ‘That should be on your show!’ But if you think about it, we start writing in June, start shooting in October, and the thing doesn’t air until April. So it could be both your friend and your enemy. We’ve really been lucky, because a lot of things we’ve touched on we feel like they’ve unfolded in the real world in a nice way.”