The best dramas about tech companies

Technology is the story of our age and therefore it is no wonder that TV producers have been keen to search for stories of big ideas, big money, growth and failure to attract audiences away from scrolling on their mobile phones all day (oh, the irony).

The last few years have seen more dramas than ever appear on our screens with technology at their very heart – some inspired by real companies, others pure fiction but clearly informed by the way the world has been changing so fast.

But what is the best TV show to watch about tech companies? Which show should you be tuning into if you want to be entertained, but also informed about hyper-growth and hubris in Silicon Valley and beyond?

Well, if you’re ready… let us begin!

10. Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber

It’s undeniable that Uber disrupted the world of transport with its app-based ride-hailing service, but the rise of the one-time CEO Travis Kalanick and eventual removal again from the company makes for a fascinating story. Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt in this drama inspired by real events we are treated to a high-octane adventure in tech growth and the pursuit of disruption in a world that isn’t always ready to be disrupted. A fine central performance from Gordon-Levitt makes for a show that has all the right ingredients.

9. Startup

Running between 2016 and 2018, this show didn’t immediately win over critics but has in more recent times gained a loyal fanbase attracted to the interesting mix of banking titans, drug gang leaders and tech experts. Yep, it doesn’t sound like your average startup – and it’s not! The show, which has an impressive cast across its run including Martin Freeman, Ron Pearlman and Adam Brody, is centred around a cryptocurrency start-up called GenCoin and has enough Zeitgeist to ensure that you never look at an emerging technology the same way ever again!

8. Maniac

Everyone is in this show. Well, not everyone, but it does have a really impressive cast including compelling lead performances from Jonah Hill and Emma Stone, plus great turns from Justin Theroux, Gabriel Byrne and Sally Field to name but a few. Telling the story of a big tech company’s explorations into the pharmaceutical world this powerful and at times quite disturbing show sees two strangers connect in a strange and experimental environment where they are told the trial in which they are in will help cure their mental illness.

7. WeCrashed

Starring not one, but two Oscar-winning actors in the shape of Jared Leto and Anne Hathaway, this Apple TV+ Original tells the fascinating origin story of WeWorked, a company co-founded by Adam Neumann, an Israeli businessman who came to the US with a dream of bringing people together in a social workspace environment. Hathaway plays Rebekah Paltrow who would go on to marry Adam and become Rebekah Neumann and in the series plays a pivotal role in the way the company and the story develop. A fascinating story brought to life by great lead performances, this is a story that will keep you gripped to the every end and heading to Wikipedia to find out more.

6. Mr Robot

Starring the brilliant Oscar-winning Rami Malek, this dark and mysterious series follows Elliot Alderson (our narrator, played by Malik), a clinically depressed tech engineer with social anxiety disorder who works for a cybersecurity company called AllSafe. Life is about to become a lot more complicated and dangerous when Elliot is recruited to a group of hacktivists who are attempting to bring down a corporation called E Corp. A beautifully crafted story for our times co-starring the likes of Christian Slater, Portia Doubleday and BD Wong.

5. Devs

This show cleverly blends a science fiction drama with the intriguing questions that many have about what goes on within the famously secret technological giant. The central story is built around that of a software engineer Lily (played by Sonoya Mizuno) as she investigates the mysterious death of her boyfriend who worked with her at the secretive Amaya tech company. The show received almost universal critical acclaim for its thought-provoking storylines and excellent performances from Mizuno as well as Nick Offerman, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Cailee Spaeny and Alison Pill.

4. The Playlist

The story of Daniel Ek and how a Swedish tech entrepreneur was able to take on the music industry and the biggest tech firms across the globe to build a hugely successful music streaming service is a fascinating one on so many levels. However, layer upon this some exceptional storytelling with six different stories interwoven to really bring alive a tech tale for the ages and you have a really compelling story that will have you gripped throughout the Netflix limited series.

The Playlist

3. Silicon Valley

OK, this isn’t a drama, it’s a comedy. But it’s so good I had to include it. From the brain of Mike Judge, who many will know for Beavis and Butthead, this incredibly funny and biting satire of the technology boom in America, business culture and the hubris that surrounds so-called “Unicorns” in investing circles, Silicon Valley is a compelling comedy from HBO. Starring Thomas Middleditch and Richard Hendricks, the introverted founder of tech compression company Pied Piper, this brilliant series also stars the excellent Martin Starr, Zach Woods and Kumail Nanjiani as things goes wrong ad right and wrong again in a battle for digital supremacy in a cut-throat world of cyber hippies.

2. The Dropout

If you haven’t heard the podcast The Dropout which this compelling TV series is based, it’s definitely worth checking out. However, the story of Elizabeth Holmes and the biotech company Theranos which she founded, is one of the most interesting in its genre. This show, which is mad by Hulu and available on Disney+ in the UK stars Amanda Seyfried in one of the best performances of her career opposite Naveen Andrews as COO/partner Sunny Balwani, Utkarsh Ambudkar , William H. Macy and Laurie Metcalf. An astounding tale that has plenty of twists and turns as things unravel.

1. Severance

Executive produced and directed in part by Ben Stiller, Severance stars Adam Scott as Mark, a widowed man who has undergone a controversial medical procedure to sever one side of his brain from his other, creating effectively two selves, one always at work, and one always at home. However, when questions begin to be asked at the mysterious Lumon industries when a former employee leaves and a new one arrives, a thrilling mystery unfolds of dystopian proportions. Also starring the brilliant Patricia Arquette, Christopher Walken, Britt Lower and Chris Tuturro to name but a few, this is one of the best modern shows of its genre and unmissable TV.

Tim Glanfield

Tim Glanfield is a journalist, editor and broadcaster with more than 15 years experience writing about television, film and the entertainment business. He has been editor of RadioTimes.com, a writer for The Times (of London) and the Guardian as well as a freelance contributor to newspapers, magazines and websites across the world. He is author of the book Digital Economy or Bust: The Story of a New Media Startup and makes regular appearances on TV and radio in the UK.

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