Welcome to ‘Start-Ups: Silicon Valley’: Another dimension of hell

As a Bravo junkie, I’ll give any show a shot. And now that Andy Cohen and Co. have moved their exploitation machine into Silicon Valley, it’s time to watch what the kids in northern Cali are up to.

Yesterday, we dropped into the Seattle offices of Cheezburger. Today we meet the malcontents of “Start-Ups: Silicon Valley.” Or, as Bravo is likely hoping, the biggest bunch of self-sabotaging nitwits since that group of vapid chicks navigating the New York art world in “Gallery Girls.”

See, there is another rule to making a successful reality TV show in addition to the three I already laid out for “LOL Work:” The more horrible the human beings, the better the TV. Just how horrible are the kids of “Start-Ups: Silicon Valley?” Let’s review:

The opening is filled with them spouting off tech-world clichés (again, paraphrasing from live TV, but you get the gist): “Silicon Valley is an amazing place filled with people doing amazing things,” says Ben. “I live, breath, eat, shit daydream my company,” adds Dwight. “It’s like high school, but with only the smart kids, and we have a lot of money,” notes Kim.

Well, they are right about one thing: “Start-Ups: Silicon Valley” is like high school. Better yet, it’s a cross between MTV’s “The Hills” and “The Social Network,” heavy, heavy on “The Hills” factor.

The pitch from Ben and Hermione to VC Dave McClure

After a sunny, splashy intro, we open in the sun-filled, sleek abode of brother-sister duo Ben and Hermione. Oh, and they’ve got these cute little British accents, too. See, they were separated as young kids. She grew up here. He in Britain, and they reconnected to launch their own start-up called Ignite, a lifestyle monitoring something or other that tells you when you’re going to die based on your life choices.

Really? Folks would want this? Ben seems to think so.

Oh, and Hermione has used her connections as a tech blogger to set up a meeting with VC Dave McClure by sending him a text of a middle finger. (More on that meeting later).

And then there is the awful factor known as Sarah who tell us: “People are intimidated this package doesn’t usually come with a brain.” Sarah has somehow weaseled her way into staying at the Four Seasons Palo Alto for free (she says in exchange for her social media prowess).

Signs that Sarah is already awful: She orders room service for her dog, then makes the guy cut up a hamburger patty for it. Also, Sarah calls herself a “lifecaster,” which really just sounds more worthless than a life coach, you know, without the helpful life advice. She calls living at the Four Seasons her “bubble,” and she talks like a suburban Valley girl who’s trying to upscale it a bit by drawing out the most annoying words, like “buu-bbble.” Her blog, er, lifecasting site Pop 17 I guess is popular? She brags that one of her tweets is worth $10,000.

(Oh, Bravo, you make it so easy to spot the villains.)

Speaking of awful, entitled women, let’s go over to our Type-A Superstar Kim! Kim is Tracy Flick, if Tracy Flick had grown up and wanted to go into tech and moved to San Fran instead of D.C.

Besides her snarky attitude, very unimpressive fact that she used to dance for an NBA team—um, do the Milwaukee Bucks even count?—she left Chicago because it wasn’t good enough for her. In the world of Facebook, she is banking on Internet advertising, working for a firm called Ampush. She brags about being in the “land of nerds” and “always wanting more.”

Dwight is Code Guy. He spends night and day coding, and he’s damn proud of it. Oh, he also sleeps on an air mattress and lives in a disgusting apartment with his partner and roommate. When he’s not putting on filthy clothes and making kung fu-like poses in the mirror, Dwight is saying incredibly stupid things, like calling himself and his compadre, “Kirk and Spock,” and talking about his “work hard, play hard” mentality.

He’s an annoying, yet harmless little nerd.

David is this reality TV show’s token gay. Though he’s incredibly smart—as he likes to tell us about his three degrees from Carnegie Mellon—and has been successful at Google and other places, he’s now broke-ass broke. He’s putting his all into founding Goalsponsors, another health program to get people to lose weight. David had a rough childhood, and has such, takes us through the list of plastic surgery and other procedures he’s had done. Oh, and then he spray-tans with Sarah in her room

Ready for some drama?

There are two major points of action in the show: One, frenemies alert! Sarah and Hermione cannot stand one another; and two, Ben and Hermione actually land a meeting with McClure. Let’s dip in, shall we?

So, back to the spray-tanning. Sarah is getting ready for a toga par-tay. “It takes two hours to get ready for work,” she says. “A party can take a lot longer to get ready for, three to four hours…I loooovvvveee wearing costumes.”

Former NBA dancer Kim Taylor of Shonova.com

Meanwhile, Hermione and Ben are prepping for the party, Hermione proudly says, “It’s all about costume parties at people’s houses!”

And we get the backstory: Hermione and Ben helped Sarah get to SXSW, apparently home girl didn’t have the cash to go and no one would sponsor her. (Whoa, so the girl who values her tweets at $10,000 couldn’t scratch together $300 for a shitty Southwest flight to Austin?) Regardless, while there, Sarah was supposedly helping Hermione with an event. Sarah, apparently, wasn’t happy with the way Hermione was running said event, and sent an “unprofessional” email to her boss. Hence, when pretty blond girls feud.

Wow, this really is high school.

Let’s take you through the evening. They drink out of plastic cups, jump into the pool and binge drink, pretty much like every party you’ve ever been to in your life. Ben hits on Sarah, because even if she is evil, man does he totally have a thing for her, which is causing more drama with the sister.

Side note but equally amusing: Dwight actually leaves this party to go hang out with his nerd friends, standing around what looks to be the equivalent of a card table in a depressing, shitty apartment, slamming shots and saying stupid stuff like, “I better be arrested, laid or blacked out by 2 a.m.” No, child, you will not accomplish any of those things slamming bottom-shelf booze in your nerd friend’s apartment.

Pop17.com founder Sarah Austin

Back to the drama: Sarah and Hermione actually talk. “Sometimes you need to push people,” is Sarah’s defense, throwing in that she is a better producer and that she made out with her brother. Ooo, snap.

Next day, a hungover Ben and Hermione prep for their meeting with McClure. While Ben is trying to look nice, Hermione basically looks like she slept face-first in a pile of garbage—and she’s OK with that. Neither one of them has actually worked up a product demo or finished their presentation, but they are asking for a cool half million. A half million!

At McClure’s office, while he’s making them wait and sweat it out—a common move for VCs apparently—Hermione decides to take a nap under the board-room table. Until McClure busts her. Oops, embarrassing!

They continue with their pitch, until McClure basically schools them big time: First off, don’t be running 42 other companies and coming to me to ask for money… and secondly? He don’t need no BMW in a tech product, he just wants a Ford, so he can crank it out, assembly-line style: “I’m not in the business of taking irrational risks,” he tells them. Then they end the meeting with fist bump, which grossed me out.

So what did we learn tonight? Next to nothing.

What redeeming qualities do these kids have? Very few.

Do I want to move to Silicon Valley? Hell no.

If nothing else, “Start-Ups: Silicon Valley” has shown me that Bravo can unearth truly horrible human beings almost anywhere.

Well played, Bravo. Well played.

Molly Brown has spent over a decade writing about arts, entertainment and pop culture. An admitted lover of crap TV, she blogs at evilmolly.com.

  • Guest

    Wow! Looks like you really engaged with the program, Molly. Any chance of having one of these hot personalities on the next podcast?

    • johnhcook

      Ha! I think we’ll stick with a slightly more inspiring cast on the podcast, like 97-year-old tech enthusiast Bill Sleeper who will be joining us this weekend. Now, a reality show (or documentary) about Mr. Sleeper is something that would be truly worth watching.

  • http://www.jakeludington.com Jake Ludington

    While I can hope that some of this is tongue in cheek, this is a fairly horrible (to use Molly Brown’s word of the day) characterization of people based on what’s intended to make for good television.

    I know both Sarah Austin and Hermione Way. They are both incredibly smart and talented people. They are also two of the least pretentious people I’ve encountered in the tech community.

    Have they caricatureized themselves for better television – absolutely. But this is a really unfair character assassination of people who deserve better. On election day, I’m casting my vote for Geekwire to fire Molly Brown.

  • Guest

    Wow harsh. Half of you guys complain about the show not being “genuine” or “realistic” and then in the next breath complain that when Dwight goes to a party with his friends it’s “his nerd friends, standing around what looks to be the equivalent of a card table in a depressing, shitty apartment”.

    Like what do you think a bunch of nerds do when they’re not working and feel like hanging out with their friends? You don’t have to make fun of us just ’cause you think we’re not cool enough. :(

  • Jason

    For a purer version of GeekWire, this feed strips away postings by a writer of “arts, entertainment, and pop culture” to leave only the good stuff:

    http://pipes.yahoo.com/pipes/pipe.info?_id=2729e635c9631d1f6ce5499560ef06c7

  • Liz

    was so excited for this show but my gosh, could the characters be more annoying and unrealistic. PLEASE get rid of the english dude. I wouldn’t trust that kid with a dime!

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