The plots of Silicon Valley are certainly vivid, but the characters are where realism transcends its lifelike setting. More than mere composites of real people, the characters are often actual real people. Kara Swisher, Eric Schmidt, Sheryl Sandberg, Evan Spiegel, Walt Mossberg, and the Winklevii now have IMDB credits, as themselves. And it works in the reverse too: Fictional characters like Big Head and Erlich have real Crunchbase and LinkedIn profiles. In this slippery realm, betwixt fact and fiction, scientific papers are published about imaginary calculations and platforms like Quora are jammed with reality-bending threads, like “Is Richard Hendricks a good CEO?”
Perhaps the most evocative blurring belongs to Michael Arrington, the founder of Techcrunch Disrupt, who has a cameo in an episode at Techcrunch Disrupt, but then actually interviewed the cast at the real Techcrunch Disrupt, a competition the Hooli team won back in the fictional universe depicted on the show.