Movies and television are a place where we allow our imaginations to run wild. Not bound by the same limitations as real life, we can use these settings to create different lives and play out scenarios that only really exist in our minds.
Understandably, because of what we can do, science and technology have been incorporated into many movies, books, and television shows throughout the years, creating the entire genre of “science fiction.”
However, for these types of stories to work, there needs to be some degree of plausibility. People are willing to accept certain things, but if you get too far away from the truth, things start to become unbelievable and the story suffers.
In movies, it’s far more common for this to happen, largely because the time constraints placed on movies make it hard for them to properly incorporate certain aspects of real life. And because they are shorter, people are often more willing to overlook these inconsistencies.
TV shows, on the other hand, aren’t limited to just two hours, and so they have more of an opportunity to get things right. And they should. People lose interest in a TV show quickly when it becomes unbelievable or ridiculous, and so TV shows have an incentive to make sure they’re accurate. Not all shows succeed in doing this, but some do.
Below you can find 15+ shows that know their tech:
Before we dive into our list, it’s important to answer this question, for some of the shows on our list don’t qualify as science fiction. Yet they incorporate technology in such a way that makes the show better and also provokes thought and reflection from the audience.
In general, there are three ways to deal with technology in a TV show:
Now that you have a better idea of what we mean when we say a TV show has gotten the technology “right,” let’s take a look at a list of programs that have managed to do so throughout the years.
Below is a list of 15 shows that have done a very good job at incorporating technology into their storylines, either by showing us what is potentially possible or by giving us an accurate reflection of how technology impacts our lives and society.
We should note that this isn’t a “ranking.” These shows are not listed in any particular order, neither for their quality or technological accuracy.
Take a look at the list and check out any shows you haven’t already to see if they meet your technological standards.
Given the name, which refers to the area in Northern California home to some of the world’s biggest tech companies that are also the epicenter of modern tech startup culture, it shouldn’t come as a big surprise that this is a show that gets tech right.
In general, however, the show isn’t really about technology. Instead, it’s about a group of highly-intelligent though less-than-apt group of tech entrepreneurs trying to launch their app and get rich in the midst of Silicon Valley’s competitive, cut-throat culture.
The show was first conceived by Mike Judge, the creator of Beevis and Butthead and Office Space and a former tech entrepreneur, and its team of writers all have backgrounds in the tech world.
Therefore, in addition to being hilarious, this show also gets a lot of things right about how technology influences our world. Oh, and to make things even better, the app created by the characters depends on a “compression rate metric.” At the time of the show’s initial release, this did not exist. But it’s since been created in real life, validating the entire show’s premise as technologically accurate.
The title of this show might make it seem like it’s about robots. But it’s not. It’s about hackers, and their incredible power to completely change the world while sitting at their desks.
The plot features Eliot Anderson (played by Rami Malek) as an intelligent but underutilized IT specialist who gets mixed up with various anti-systemic groups looking to tackle the financial industry and eliminate debt, all through hacking.
While this plotline might be a bit fantastic, the technological components of the show are anything but. It employs a whole team of technology producers and consultants, who either have experience hacking or who bring in hackers to make sure the things they’re doing on the screen are plausible in real life.
Therefore, in addition to being a commentary on society, as well as issues of post-modern loneliness and drug addiction, it’s also an excellent way to see into the lives of hackers and what they can do when given the chance.
For many of us, the internet and its accompanying technologies have been a part of our lives forever. But, believe it or not, there was a time when all of this stuff didn’t exist, and the show Halt & Catch Fire takes us to that moment.
Spanning four seasons and streaming on Netflix, the show takes us back to the early 1980s when the concept of the internet was just emerging, and people from all over were looking at how they could capitalize on this trend.
The technology that shows up in the series is old, but it’s exactly what people were using back in the day. And the show also provides some quality insight into the early days of Silicon Valley, which weren’t too different from the Wild West of old.
So, if you’re a fan of technology, feeling nostalgic about lost tech, and/or curious about the pre-internet days – or if you’re just looking for a good show to watch – check out Halt and Catch Fire.
When this show first hit the airwaves, it was really supposed to be more of a cop show. But, over time, it took on more of a sci-fi theme.
This happens because, in an effort to think of ways to improve people’s lives, one of the show’s main characters creates a gigantic supercomputer with sentient AI that is able to compute the massive amounts of data available in society to not only predict when terrorist attacks might happen but also who is at risk of being a victim.
Such a device does not exist, though it could, theoretically, and agencies such as the NSA, FBI, and CIA would love to have it at their disposal. However, the show also serves as a reminder about data privacy in the 21st century, making this show an interesting examination of how technology impacts our daily lives.
If you’re looking for a show that will leave you feeling upbeat and optimistic about where we are going in terms of incorporating technology into our lives, then Black Mirror probably isn’t the show for you.
However, if you are seeking a Twilight Zone-esque show that takes an honest look at what could happen, exposing at the same time what actually is happening, then you should definitely check it out.
Each episode stands alone and explores a different idea. For example, in one episode, people are able to pay to have their dead loved ones reanimated virtually. In another episode, a person is driven to great lengths to earn votes on a social media platform that all but determines her future.
Some may look at these plot lines as not feasible. But the reality is that the technology behind them very much exists today, or at least it could. Therefore, this show is less about dreaming up what could be and more about examining where we are and where we’re going. It’s a thinker, sure, but it’s well worth it. And the depiction of technology throughout the show is spot on.
Cleverly titled with a play on words, The IT Crowd is based on a group of people working in the IT department at Reynholm Industries.
While it’s not a show that really dives deep into what’s possible in terms of technology, the premise of it makes it so that tech is everywhere. And anyone who has experience working in this field, or really at any company that has its own IT support staff, will greatly appreciate the problems and mishaps that emerge around the tech the company’s employees use on a daily basis.
The show was originally aired in the UK and lasted for four years, amounting to 27 episodes. You can find them all on Netflix.
Here’s a perfect example of a show that is very much not about technology but that uses technology to generate storylines that then get us to think a little bit more about how this stuff impacts our lives. After all, the show's title suggests it is about a family living in “modern” times, so it only makes sense that technology would be incorporated.
For starters, technology is weaved into the show very well. The Dunphy kids all have their devices, and it is a constant struggle inside the home to balance the use of this technology with other things, something we can all relate to. In one episode, Claire, the mother, forbids the use of technology for a day, only to find out that she’s the one who really can’t live without it, serving as a nice reminder of just how dependent we’ve become on all this stuff.
All in all, if you’re looking for a funny, quirky show that isn’t about technology but that certainly offers some commentary on it, then look no further than Modern Family.
Although technically a legal and political thriller, The Good Wife, which aired for seven seasons between 2009 and 2016 on CBS, is an excellent show for tech enthusiasts, especially those interested in exploring the role of technology in society.
Throughout the series, technology makes an appearance. For example, the characters handle cases related to Bitcoin and cryptocurrency, as well as Anonymous, viral marketing in political campaigns, voice-controlled software and so much more. And it does so in a real and authentic way, helping audiences better understand some of these issues and formulate their own opinions.
In addition to being a great show about tech, The Good Wife is also just a good show in general that has won numerous awards.
If you’ve seen either Ex Machina or Annihilation, two sci-fi thrillers from British director Alex Garland, then you will probably also like Devs, Garland’s first foray into television. The plot is based on a computer engineer’s investigation into her company’s secret moonshot division, which she launches after her boyfriend disappears.
The company is working on quantum computing, which is a technology very much in the works right now that would allow computers to do tremendously more than they currently can. But alongside this advancement are the timeless questions about what role computers play in our society, and what that might mean for the future.
The show is dark and somewhat dystopic at times, but it’s well-acted and well-written, and the technology, which is portrayed accurately, is incorporated seamlessly into the script, making the show more real and interesting.
Another show that isn’t really about technology, Parks and Recreation makes it onto the list because technology is very much a part of the show, and they even did special episodes about it that help shed light on some of the ways in which tech is impacting our lives.
For starters, tech plays a role in the dynamic of the characters. For example, April Ludgate, played by Aubrey Plaza, is an aloof twenty-something who, at the beginning of the show, is interested in pretty much nothing except her phone, as compared to Ron Swanson, a middle-aged anti-government man who doesn’t even have a phone. Then there’s the episode where the cast debates what their phones say about their personality and status.
The show goes further, though, by doing an episode about technology in political campaigns, even poking fun at the fact that we now often use Twitter during debates and other events to connect candidates to their electorates, a phenomenon that can produce all sorts of crazy results.
So, while this show isn’t specifically about technology, it incorporates it in many different ways, and it does so in a way that makes you both laugh and think.
CBSs’ long-time running comedy The Big Bang Theory is a delight for anyone who is interested in science and technology. Based on a group of four research professors – two physicists, one astrophysicist, and one engineer – science and technology is interwoven into the entire show.
Of course, there are a few episodes where this is the central plot feature. But many of the conversations revolve around scientific or technological concepts, and while an average viewer might not keep up with these, the content of these dialogues is spot on. So, if you do understand what they’re talking about, it just makes the show even funnier.
As the show progresses, and it begins to focus more on the relationships between the characters and other themes, there is less focus on science and technology. But it’s still there, always hanging in the background, and makes this show a good watch for tech enthusiasts and experts.
Based on the real-life story of Walter O’Brien, a man who hacked NASA when he was just 13-years-old and got investigated by the NSA and Interpol, this is a fun show about hacking and other computer technology that does a pretty good job of being accurate. And it also explores concepts about the role of technology in today’s world, which makes the show even more interesting and relevant.
The show is also based on O’Brien’s risk management company, called Scorpion, which he launched after his hacking career, and so it provides a nice insight into this world as well.
Scorpion is still on the air, having made it through four seasons. So, if you’re interested, catch up and get ready for season five, which premiers this fall.
Another show that deals with hackers, although in a much different way, is Blacklist, which first aired in 2013 and is still running on NBC. Although the plot doesn’t have much to do with technology, at least directly, it’s incorporated throughout the show, giving users an interesting look into the tools law enforcement has (or wishes they had) to be able to catch some of the world’s most dangerous criminals.
Even if you’re not a fan of technology, this show is still interesting. It follows a former crime boss who hopes to cooperate with law enforcement to catch all the people he used to do crimes with, people who the FBI often doesn’t know exists.
For those who don’t know, the plot of this show is based around the futuristic industry that allows rich people to use virtual reality to enter a fictitious world based on the Wild West and do pretty much whatever they want.
This virtual world is populated by androids, who in this future world are so advanced that they basically look and act like humans. The technology portrayed in the show is theoretically possible, and so watching it will certainly get you thinking about where we are headed when it comes to virtual reality and artificial intelligence. However, the show doesn’t spend a lot of time talking about how we got to this point, which has caused some audiences to disapprove.
Overall, though, Westworld provides us with some food for thought when it comes to tech’s influence in our lives, and it also boasts a stellar cast and visual effects.
Anyone who is interested in the concept of human immortality would enjoy Altered Carbon, which streams on Netflix. Set about 350 years in the future, the show works on the concept that humans can upload and download digital versions of themselves to swap out their bodies and effectively live forever.
This is not a new idea. It’s one that has been featured in numerous sci-fi stories, and it’s also something that some current tech entrepreneurs are striving to do. Whether or not the technology is possible remains to be seen, but this show does a good job of getting us to imagine what it might be like to live in this type of world, or what impact it would have on us.
In addition to this core concept, the show also exposes us to all sorts of other futuristic tech ideas, such as fully automated businesses. So, if you’re in the mood for envisioning a dramatically different future that could be possible, then give Altered Carbon a shot.
The above fifteen shows are those we think do the best job of incorporating and portraying technology, in the past, present, and future. However, there are a few other tech-heavy shows worth mentioning that do a pretty good job with tech but have a few too many inconsistencies to make it onto the official list.
Really, any of the Star Trek movies could make it onto this list, but The Next Generation was perhaps the most commercially successful, and also the most accurate. In general, most of the tech that you see on the show is grounded in real science and is theoretically possible, something even NASA agrees to.
However, there are a few inconsistencies. For example, Lieutenant Commander Data, who is an android, is remarkably human-liked, both in his ability to interact with humans and also think. Most people in the field of AI and robotics do not think that such a robot is possible. Other things, such as the ship’s artificial gravity and the various cloaking devices used by the crew, are big stretches that, while fun to think about, degrade the depiction of tech in the show.
Despite some of these issues, Star Trek: The Next Generation remains one of the most successful sci-fi series of all time.
We all have things we would love to change about the past. But, unfortunately, it’s not possible to do this. Unless, of course, you’re Dr. Who. Using his time machine, Dr. Who is able to travel back in time and “fix” things that went wrong.
Those familiar with Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity know that time travel is theoretically possible, but that changing things in the past is not possible. So, while the show is based on something that could happen, almost the entire plot is scientifically inaccurate. Still, this is a hugely popular show that has inspired a cult following since it’s been on the air.
Next to Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica is one of the most successful sci-fi shows of all time. Set way in the future when humans have reached the far ends of the universe and began inhabiting a new set of planets, the show includes all sorts of futuristic tech. However, it fails to ever really go into detail about how any of this technology works, and there is a lot of doubt as to whether or not it even would.
So, while this show features a lot of technology, we can’t really speak to how accurate this is, and so the show was left off our official list. However, it remains a sci-fi classic and is still very much worth a watch.
Some of these shows might be new to you, whereas some you may have already seen. Either way, now that you know that they are some of the best shows including technology, you can turn your eye to this aspect of each series and perhaps learn some stuff along the way. If not, well, at least you’ll be entertained. Happy watching!