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Valley of the Boom
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Valley of the Boom is a series about the rise of three Silicon Valley tech companies in the mid-'90s. It uses both documentary and dramatization to explore how the early internet became the consumer marketplace it is today. There's some mild violence, profanity, and drinking, but it's essentially an educational show that is presented in an extremely entertaining fashion that families with teens interested in the history of the internet will enjoy.
What's the story?
In 1994, the internet was difficult to use and considered by businesspeople to be the province of recluses and nerds. VALLEY OF THE BOOM tells the story of three tech companies that dramatically changed the internet and turned it into the all-consuming megaforce it is today. Charting the rise and fall of Netscape, theGlobe.com, and Pixelon through the personalities and driving forces behind the tech (Bradley Whitford stars as James L. Barksdale, the CEO of Netscape, while Steve Zahn plays Pixelon's leader Michael Fenne), the show tells the story of how Silicon Valley became the center of wealth in America.
Is it any good?
Using storytelling techniques ranging from documentary to dramatic reconstruction to, amazingly enough, interpretive dance, this is an ambitious and unruly show that is literally unlike anything currently on TV. Its closest comparisons are movies like The Big Short, which combines complex financial ideas with bold character and aesthetic choices, or American Animals, which similarly blurs the line between documentary and drama.
Not only does it entertain, but the raucous mishmash of approaches sneakily mirrors the internet itself, not to mention the chaotic tech boom of the mid-90s. Often, the kind of freewheeling stylistic choices that Valley of the Boom makes are used to hide a lack of actual substance, but this show's primary objective is to illuminate the origin of the internet as we know it. It's like writing code: a million tiny inputs ultimately create one clear picture.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the internet. What was life like (gasp) before the internet? When did you begin to use the internet? How has the internet changed your day-to-day life?
How are each of the three companies in Valley of the Boom -- Netscape, theGlobe, and Pixelon -- attempting to change the internet? What do they have to offer? Why are their products valuable?
What are the decisions that each company is making as they try to succeed? What goes into this decision-making process? What are the potential risks and rewards?
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