It's Night 1 of "Start-Ups: Silicon Valley," the Bravo reality TV series that, even before production began, had the tech world's undies in a wad. But is it worth the outrage? Let's see:
The show opens with a montage of our six-member cast talking about the beauty and brutality of Silicon Valley. On one hand, it's a glorious mecca where savvy, ambitious people come to strike gold (and apparently throw pool parties). On the other, the "competition is fierce" and if you can't handle it, "you'll go mad." (Oh, good, let's see some of THAT).
What becomes apparent in just a few minutes is that viewers all over the country will instantly hate some, if not all, these people. They're smug and cocky and more than a little full of themselves.
"The future of the world is in our hands," says Hermione Way, sounding like a wise prophet (or totally drunk). "And we're not sitting back and letting it pass us by."
And then there's Sarah Austin, who is very lovely and very much knows it.
People get "intimidated" by her, she says, "because this package doesn't usually come with a brain." (At this point, we picture blunt objects being hurled at TV sets all over America).
Other tidbits we glean from these opening moments: "Silicon Valley is like high school," but with only "the smart people and lots of money." Oh, and "Geeks are the new rock stars."
Of course, these are Bravo-TV geeks, which means they're not chubby and nerdy at all, but attractive and very camera-ready. And there's not a pocket protector among them. Oh, and one other thing: If you're someone who knows nothing about the Valley, you might get the idea from watching this show that only white people live there.
And you might also think that the Valley is actually in San Francisco. That's where we're introduced to Hermione and her brother, Ben Way, who are living in a plush complex called The Villa in SF.
They actually have an interesting story. Natives of the UK, they were separated as little kids when their parents divorced. He went off to live with his dad, and apparently became a business whiz kid. She lived with Mom and drifted toward journalism.
Reunited during a trip to Thailand, the Ways bonded and decided to team up and invade the Valley. Now, they're trying to get a fitness-related app off the ground as he handles the techie side of things and she deals with the marketing. Hermione, in fact, has already landed a meeting with high-profile venture capitalist Dave McClure. How did she pull that off? By sending him a text with a middle-finger symbol. (So obvious. Didn't they teach you that in business school?).
From The Villa, we move onto the Four Seasons hotel in Palo Alto, where Sarah is temporaily living (apparently rent-free) with her little pet poodle, Juniper. They both seem very spoiled. Sarah even orders room service for Juniper (a beef patty, if you must know). Yes, we rolled our eyes, too.
Sarah is a video blogger who claims to be one of the very first "life-casters," whatever that is. Clearly, though, she is gorgeous, so the producers cannot resist a chance to show her in her underwear.
And then there's Kim Taylor, another smug beauty. She's a former NBA dancer who relocated to the Bay Area from Chicago to work as a director of sales for Ampush Media. Kim is shown at work making some cracks about a pregnant friend back in Wisconsin that won't exactly endear her to viewers in the heartland.
Reading her friend's Facebook report out loud, she says the woman is at "39 weeks, 3 centimeters dialated, with a bulging bag of water."
It's an "inappropriate Midwestern status update," she claims, clearly believing that no one in the Valley ever makes inappropriate remarks on Facebook.
Rounding out the cast are Dwight Crow, a high-energy programmer who claims to "dream in code," and gay programmer David Murray, who once worked at Google and is now addicted to plastic surgery. David grew up fat and "cried a lot." So he had a ton of work done, including a nose job and a laser procedure to remove his back hair. He also has a thing for spray tanning. Precious.
All six of our young stars conveniently wind up at a toga bash at The Villa, where they're abusive to bed sheets and where Dwight reveals himself to be a crazy, booze-guzzling, gibberish-spewing, pedal-to-the-metal party boy. Dwight's goal? To be "arrested, laid, or blacked out by 2 a.m." His parents must be so proud.
The toga party is also where we get our first hint of drama (finally!). Turns out that Hermione and Sarah used to be BFFs. Now, not so much. Apparently, they worked together on a project at South By Southwest and all hell broke loose. Sarah sent a very "unprofessional" e-mail to the organizers and Ms. Way took exception. Much pouting and snarling ensued.
Making things even messier is the fact that Hermione's brother has a thing for Sarah. His sister comes first, Ben insists, but, oh, Sarah's lips are so lovely and alluring. ...
Anyway, Hermione coaxes a reluctant Sarah to sit down in the bedroom for a few minutes and sort things out. But the coversation goes nowhere as it becomes obvious that the women are both still angry and living in different "realities." No punches are thrown and no hair is pulled, but you get the feeling that there is definitely more to come between these two.
As if that's not bad enough, Hermione suffers another painful defeat when she and Ben head to their pitch meeting with McClure hoping to land $500,000 in seed money for their start-up. Predictably, McClure keeps them waiting and that's the cue for a "hung over" Hermione to go take a nap under a light table. Bad move.
When they finally do meet McClure, it's a disaster. He rudely interrupts them mid-pitch and goes on to claim that he's not in the business of taking "irrational risks." (Oh, snap!).
Brother and sister leave with their tails between their legs. Is their start-up DOA? Is this show? Tune in next week -- unless you're not in the business of making irrational TV choices.