Top 13 series with or about programmers: from hilarious tech geniuses to serious hackers
The computer programmer in movies and series has traditionally been considered a mere sidekick to the hero, who is always all muscle and brawn. The providential brain provides the tricks to break into fortresses, read other people’s emails, and access secret passwords. Always a secondary irremediably linked to the classic typology of the nerd: a nerd with problems socializing, very smart but very little lived.
But there came a time, at the end of the last century when things began to change. The fact is that society has changed by leaps and bounds, and those who were once the outcasts are now the owners of the world’s leading companies. Being a tech and computer expert is no longer a burden: it is now the hero’s mark. Such heroes also exist in real life – they’re certified programmers and developers who provide affordable and high-quality programming help online for those who need it.
The series world was impacted and inspired by programmers who become the protagonists of fiction of all kinds, so the work and business environment related to technology became attractive to viewers.
We have some of the best examples to review this revolution in the vision of programmers in television fiction. These are the 13 great series with or about programmers:
The IT Crowd (2006-2013)
This is the first sitcom that put programmers at the center of the equation. It’s a hilarious and very English series that focuses on the grimy IT department of a company, where only two asocial nerds and an ambitious (and useless) newcomer without the slightest idea of technology coexist.
‘The IT Crowd’ manages to avoid all the risks of caricaturing IT people with clichés thanks to wild humor that leaves no stone unturned and presents them, in reality, as victims of the dehumanizing corporation they work for. Brimming with surreal moments and sensational secondary characters, it also gave us one of the most memorable characters.
A comedy based on the acid novel by Douglas Copeland (‘Generation X’) that, despite the good reviews of its first season, didn’t make it past its initial chapters. It tells the story of the lives of six video game programmers subjected to the surreal designs of a multinational company. Although it does not always spin as fine a yarn as it could with such a plot, the plot is sufficiently crazy when it leaves the strict circle of the protagonists to make it a must-see for trackers of video game programmers in fiction.
Person of Interest (2011-2016)
Jonathan Nolan is interested in machines. Its starting point introduced us to a hacker developing a program called The Machine, which can predict terrorist acts. A group is formed around him to investigate possible criminals or future victims. Soon, the series becomes an exciting and unexpected reflection on the scope of artificial intelligence, where the programmer and his capacity have little importance but broaden the focus to related issues equally relevant.
It is a series produced by Amazon with a fleeting life, as it only lasted 11 episodes. Its characters and the complexity of its satire had little scope. In this one, its modesty plays in its favor, with a nicely comedic story about a group of friends setting up a tech company and where we get to see the day-to-day work of chopping up code and selling it.
Halt & Catch Fire (2014-2017)
This one is one of the best series about computers and technology. Its protagonists are an executive of the nascent computer industry, a couple of electronic engineers, and a gifted programmer.
The series ran for four seasons. They gained great relevance for their expertise in depicting programmers and industry innovators as three-dimensional characters with machine-related concerns, yes, but as human as those of any drama. And all punctuated with historical elements that retro-computing fans will know well, from the launch of Nintendo’s first console to the birth of chat rooms and internet search engines.
Silicon Valley (2014-2019)
Now we are facing a satire of the latest generation of technology companies. It describes the formation and triumph of a tech company that creates a revolutionary file-sending program. As it grows, it encounters companies that are obvious nods to tech giants we know well.
“Silicon Valley” goes further thanks to its extraordinary characters, halfway between the nerdy caricature of series like ‘IT Crowd’ and the recognizable portrait of the geniuses of the sector, from the eccentric to the grotesque. The series reached a fascinating dilemma when reality overtook it, turning the exaggerated comedy of its early days into an explosive reflection of an increasingly unpredictable sector.
Mr. Robot (2015-2019)
This series is about the hacker who has been gaining the consideration of an atypical “hero” over the years. Activists recruit computer security engineers and hackers to provoke financial chaos worldwide through the Internet. Our protagonist suffers from social anxiety and clinical depression, which will turn his adventure into an odyssey.
This four-season series is a surprise thanks to the well-defined, eccentric, and unpredictable protagonist, but very human thanks to the extraordinary performance of Rami Malek. The suspense plot is unusually well-plotted, with a lot of attention to detail and a display of realism rarely seen in describing the computer processes that hide computer attacks.
Based on a novel and film by Michael Crichton, this HBO series tells of the progressive coming to consciousness of androids in a western-themed amusement park, who are relentlessly mowed down and abused by millionaires looking for avenues of escape from their stress. The story is told from the point of view of both the unruly AIs and the park visitors, but also, occasionally, from the eyes of the programmers.
Anthony Hopkins, one of them, participates in the first season as the semi-demiurge of the rebellion. Although he is closer to the cliché of the Frankensteinian mad doctor than that of the code tinkerer, there are great ideas in the series about which is the actual creator of a machine’s consciousness. ‘Westworld’ has been degenerating into a robotic action production without great interest, but still slips fascinating characters and ideas related to the programmers behind the brilliant machines (such as, for example, the one who inevitably falls in love with one of them).
Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (2018)
‘Black Mirror’ has always talked about technology and its uses, but its perspective is usually not on the side of those who create it but rather those who suffer from it. For example, the episode ‘Shut Up and Dance’ from the third season tells of the hacking of a webcam, but from the victim’s point of view. It intends to warn of the dangers of unchecked technology, not to explain how it comes into being.
The most notable exception to that rule is ‘Bandersnatch,’ one of the most relevant episodes of the series since it has been part of Netflix. Moreover, it is interactive: a young programmer is trying to adapt a 1984 ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ type book into a video game. With that as an excuse and taking advantage of its format, the episode reflects on free will while tracing a unique recreation of the almost amateur video game industry in the early eighties.
In “Devs,” a computer company develops a code that defies the laws of space and time. It is a conspiracy thriller, seasoned with a hateful commentary on the omnipotence of some companies in the sector. A sensational performance by Nick Offerman as a tech guru in a series went far beyond merely observing the accumulation of power by computer companies.
Mythic Quest (2020)
This one focuses on a team of creators of a successful MMORPG-type video game. Unlike other similar fictions that portray the entire journey until the game is released (which the series covers in its highly praised fifth episode), here we have life after the launch, which often receives little attention.
In ‘Mythic Quest,’ we talk about the game’s reaction among YouTubers, waves of Nazis invading the fiction, multiple issues concerning funding, and many aspects concerning the programmers, here represented by Poppy, one of the most compelling characters. She is a talented creator and very involved in the game’s success. Still, she suffers the most severe work-related crises, as seen in the beautiful special episode filmed in quarantine – an alternative look at the programming world.
That is a virtual paradise to which the consciousness of the dead (those who can afford it) is sent and takes the form of a luxury hotel. But our protagonist, who is sent there, is a programmer; his death in strange circumstances possibly has much to do with the project he was developing.
Even so, the series is more about the relationship of this newcomer to the digital world with this new world and how he develops a unique intangible friendship with the assistant of the company where the server of this peculiar beyond is located. ‘Upload’ is aimed at a satire of our relationship with technology, like a colorful version of ‘Black Mirror.’
The story begins with a boatload of passengers from numerous countries who travel from London to New York City in 1899. The series’ mystery is about a shipping company that lost its previous ship, including all the crew and passengers. But the passengers also have many hidden stories that are revealed throughout the series. Eventually, the main characters find the “lost” ship, and the story takes an exciting turn. The protagonist, Daniel, knows more about the craft than anyone else, and he also owns a device that he uses to crack the code to bring the passengers back from the simulation to reality.
Despite its popularity and favorable reviews from critics, the series was canceled. Still, it’s worth watching for anyone who loves mystery, science fiction, and detective stories.
The world of programming is interesting and exciting. Each series about the latest technologies has a unique charm, storyline, and meaning. We hope that in this article, you have found an exciting series to watch in your spare time.