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How ‘Silicon Valley’ keeps the show true to the real-life tech world


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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.”


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