Office Space Meets Silicon Valley – A Comparison of the Cult Classic to HBO’s New Hit Show

May 13, 2014

11:24 am

Mike Judge was the comic du jour throughout the 1990s, responsible for the cult hit “Office Space” which is still beloved today. It was a humorous look into the dot com world of the 90s, making fun of those desk jobs that had Gen X’ers strapped to their desks. However, 15 years later, the work landscape has changed and now it’s startups (often nestled in Silicon Valley) that are where all the hot jobs are. That’s the thought behind Judge’s HBO sitcom “Silicon Valley,” where he takes a look at what really happens when a bunch of young tech geeks turn into millionaires overnight. Maybe that’s not how it happens most of the time, but that’s what makes for good television.

Judge says, “The tech world has become really interesting to me, especially in recent years. Just knowing those types and seeing them suddenly have billions and billions of dollars, there’s just something funny about it to me and it’s something I hadn’t really explored that much.” It seems like any company can become successful overnight these days, whether it’s from creating stunning POS software or pulling together a game like Angry Birds. You may also know Judge from “King of the Hill,” “Beavis and Butt-head,” or “Idiocracy,” so it’s clear that he has a knack for pinpointing the funny in the norm.

Making the world a better place

A number of startups in Silicon Valley tout their work as improving the world, and Judge says, “I suppose some of the stuff they’re doing is making the world a better place,” but points out that it’s kind of like a beauty pageant contestant wanting world peace. It’s just what you say these days, because everyone wants to go green and be part of a business that’s part idealist. “Some maybe aren’t, but it’s just funny that most of it, it’s capitalism,” Judge says. With some startups acting like making billions is just a nice bonus on top of bettering the world, that’s at the heart of his new sitcom.

“Like a company trying to put Internet in all these Third World African countries, maybe they are making the world a better place, but they’re also making a ton of money doing it. They don’t talk about that as much,” he says. Situations like that is what got the show’s writers excited, and what led to going into an incubator to check out a real company. Judge says it was just five guys, a basic app pitch, and at the very end, it’s tossed in that they’re also making the world a better place. “It’s almost a religion, where you have to say ‘amen,’” he says.

“Office Space” comparisons

Judge has accomplished a lot in his career (whether or not he’s made the world a better place is up for debate), but he’s still best known as the creator of the cult classic. “It’s a weird movie,” Judge says simply, and points to his success in animation as a precursor to the makings of it. However, he claims that none of the characters were actually inspired from real people, but that may not be the case with “Silicon Valley.”

Much like Portlandia, the show has what it takes to appeal to all (especially those who are in the startup trenches).

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Larry is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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