Much criticism has been levied at the HBO comedy ‘Silicon Valley’ for its lack of diversity. All of its main characters, save one, in the first season were white men.
Yet, ‘Silicon Valley’ producer Alec Berg defends the make up of the cast because it’s satirizing the reality of the tech industry.
“Tech is 87% male. VC at the partner level is 96% white and male,” Berg said on a panel of all white men at SXSW. “The world that we’re depicting is very much off kilter.”
It wasn’t just a casting decision. Even shooting real-world scenes in Silicon Valley became a problem for the team.
The crew went to TechCrunch Disrupt, a real-life startup competition also featured in the show, to film footage of the crowd, Berg explained. During the review process once the footage was woven in, another editor criticised the crowd shots for not featuring any women and blamed Berg for the oversight.
“She said those crowd shots were absurd,” Berg told the crowd at SXSW. “Those were real shots of the real place, and we didn’t frame women out. The world we’re depicting is f—ed up.”
Even trips to visit tech companies, like Google, didn’t help. “That’s where we realised it really is 87% dudes,” executive producer Mike Judge said. It was the same when they visited the bars in Palo Alto, Judge added.
“Palo Alto is the ‘no sense of humour’ capital of the world,” Judge declared.
There’s been debate about whether or not ‘Silicon Valley’ the show should have more diversity than Silicon Valley, the place, but Berg argues that a show made for entertainment not meant to be a “social action wing” or be a force of change — the show is just satirizing the reality that the tech industry itself needs to take care of.