The Cast of Halt and Catch Fire - hero image
Halt and Catch Fire (2014–17)
Stories & Ideas

Sat 03 Oct 2020

ACMI Recommends: Halt and Catch Fire

ACMI Recommends Television
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Tiana Stefanic

Festival & Events Coordinator

Ride the waves of optimism and failure as this series tracks the PC revolution over four seasons.

Computers aren’t the thing. They’re the thing that gets us to the thing.

Joe MacMillan, 'Halt and Catch Fire'

It’s a bold claim, but I’m going for it: Halt and Catch Fire is one of the most underrated and timely shows of the last decade. Over the course of four seasons, the AMC series tells a resonant and complex story about how technology has irrevocably changed the way we connect with each other. 

At the heart of the show are married computer engineers Gordon and Donna, scrappy coder Cameron, and charming entrepreneur Joe. The cast is top notch, with an easy chemistry that means you’ll get invested as they keep searching for the next big idea, riding waves of success and failure in their personal and professional lives. 

Starting with the design of a computer to rival IBM in 1983, the four main characters become architects of fictional versions of the first online gaming communities, chatrooms, e-commerce platforms, adventure puzzle video games and security software, and are part of the browser wars of the late 1990s.

The show is respectful in its world building – it doesn’t rely on easy cliches about computer nerds or gamer culture, and the costumes and sets authentically ground us in the time period. The soundtrack telegraphs the emotional journeys of the characters in a way that has become a hallmark of the best prestige television set in past decades (see also Mad Men and The Americans). 

Halt and Catch Fire is about computers, but really it’s about people – it understands that making meaningful connections is really hard but actually the most rewarding thing we can do.

– Tiana Stefanic, Festivals and Events Coordinator

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