The cast and executive producers of HBO’s “Silicon Valley” appeared at SXSW on Saturday for a raucous panel that previewed two scenes from the Season 3 premiere and gave fans insight into how the tech-based comedy is made.
During the panel, exec producer Alec Berg addressed criticism about the show’s lack of diverse casting, pointing out that the industry the show is portraying is predominantly whitewashed and male-dominated.
“The first season, we got a lot of flack — some of it deservedly so — about how male and white the makeup of the show was, but we’re also satirizing a real world,” he said. “That real world, the people who do what our guys do, are 87% male. Venture capitalists at the partner level are 96% male and white, so the world we’re depicting is every bit as off-kilter as our show is.”
He recalled a conversation he had with a female friend in the tech industry who took issue with some of the shots that were filmed at TechCrunch Disrupt — utilizing real members of the audience for crowd footage. “She called me and said, ‘Let me tell you what’s wrong with your show: Those crowd shots were absurd, you didn’t put any women in there.’ And I had to tell her those are real shots from the real place and we didn’t frame women out.”
While art may be imitating life, Berg also noted, “that is an ongoing discussion; the world we’re depicting is f—ed up, but do we have the responsibility to make the gender and racial balance on our show ideal when the world we’re depicting isn’t?”
An audience member later asked about the show’s diversity behind the camera, and Berg insisted that the show is attempting to correct that imbalance off-screen.
“I don’t know the exact percentages offhand, but I think we’ve done a mildly decent job of hiring writers of color, female writers. Fifty percent of the outside directors we’ve hired have been women,” he said. “We’re not there yet, but I swear to you, we’re trying.”