Available on Amazon Prime, this is a series not to be missedAMC STUDIOS

There is more TV now than there has ever been, and the quality of content has never been better. With the experimentation of Hollywood talent in the TV world (David Fincher, Ava DuVernay, and the Wachowskis to name but a few), as well as the explosion of streaming services, it is now impossible to complain that there is nothing on the telly. But this glut of great TV has not yet led to a utopia where everyone is satisfied seeking out great content, but instead has caused many people to drown in recommendations, with the familiar cry of “you HAVE to watch this show!” producing a list now so long that it can feel like it is wrapped around one’s neck, dragging one to their knees and suffocating them with FOMO and guilt.

“A powerful commentary on the artificial connections the internet forms today”

Nevertheless, I come before you today on my knees asking – nay, begging – to add one more show to that list, because the recently-finished Halt and Catch Fire, available on Amazon Prime, is truly phenomenal, and almost no-one has even heard of it. Set during the computing boom of the 1980s, the show follows a group of people working in and connected with the exciting developments of the tech industry, initially out in Texas in a fictional tech company, then later in Silicon Valley.

Produced by the studio behind Mad Men, the two shows certainly share many similarities, at least initially. We get a slick, ideas-focused Don Draper character in the form of Lee Pace’s Joe MacMillan, and the setting inside the fictional corporation, Cardiff Electric, within a world populated by the real companies we know, such as Apple, IBM, and Microsoft, is reminiscent of Mad Men. However, after a slightly shaky first half-season, in which the show is finding its feet, it soon comes into its own. A welcome shift in focus to spotlight the female characters at the end of the first season (a spotlight which remains throughout the rest of the show) marks the point where it truly comes into its own and steps out of Mad Men’s shadow.

Trailer for Halt and Catch FireYOUTUBE

As in the best shows, the specific industry setting serves only as thematic backdrop. Mad Men used the advertising industry to explore themes of artificiality and reality. In Halt and Catch Fire, what all the characters long for, even as they work on the technology to provide it, is true connection. And it is this, more than anything else, which truly stands out in the show: the longing evoked in the viewers for the characters to connect. Each character wants to feel like they are part of something bigger, working in harmony with the others, but no matter how hard they try, they never manage to connect fundamentally.


Mountain View

The Post review: 'uncomfortably Pyrrhic'

As progressive seasons (and the characters themselves) create increasingly improved technology to link people, the attachments are never real enough – the new technology never overcomes its artificiality to produce a deep bond. And as the level of technology inches closer to recognisable forms of what we have today, it feels more and more like a powerful commentary on the artificial connections the internet forms today, with problems like cyberbullying tackled for the first time with horror by a more naïve generation.

The show is slow, and this may put people off, which is perfectly fine. The plot threads, while fascinating, are never as interesting as the character interactions, but these are what kept me watching this show late into the night, every night. The characters keep growing, shifting, engaging with other people, in a desperate attempt to get comfortable, and each season brings new relationships and challenges, and also a step up in quality. Season one is good. Season two is great. Season three is perfect. Season four is transcendent.

You HAVE to watch this show

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