by Jeremy Kirk

British TV Show Pokes Fun at IT Stereotypes

Aug 01, 20062 mins
IT Leadership

A British TV show has taken the best and worst of IT administrator stereotypes and packed them into a clever, side-splitting comedy.

The IT Crowd features Jen, who has been appointed as a supervisor in her company’s IT department but knows nothing about computers. When asked during her job interview what she knows about IT, she says, “You know, e-mail. Sending e-mail. Receiving e-mail. Deleting e-mail. Um, I could go on.”

But Jen’s social skills are sorely needed to raise the profiles of Moss and Roy, two hopelessly geeky IT administrators banished to a dingy basement office strewn with hardware detritus. Roy arrogantly advises computer-challenged employees who call him with a problem to turn their computers off and on again, which usually allows him to go back to reading his comic books.

Coworker Moss is a stiff-spined nerd with thick glasses, whose deft technical knowledge but nonexistent social skills landed him a desk next to Roy’s. When Jen makes the mistake in one episode of asking Moss a techie query, Moss’s answer is humorously dubbed over with the sound of static as Jen blankly stares.

And then there’s Richmond the Goth, whose Marilyn Manson-like attire sent his career path askew. He is now in charge of a mysterious bank of blinking lights that presumably power their building’s network.

The show’s creators have sprinkled surprising hints of cool for street-geek cred, such as the stickers on the IT office’s door from the online rights advocacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation and the passive-aggressive slogans on Roy’s technology-themed T-shirts. The IT Crowd pounds on nerd stereotypes—Roy stumbles and bleeds in several episodes, while Moss’s odd rigidness renders him impotent in normal conversation—but their high comic moments melt any degrading perceptions of their jobs.

The show’s successful six-episode run last fall has led Britain’s Channel 4, a publicly owned nonprofit station, to commission another season.

Those shows are likely to air in 2007 in the United Kingdom.