Slate takes a look at how realistically technology is portrayed on the wonderful TV drama Mr. Robot.
Most shows that deal with technology lose their footing when they try to go deep or get detailed. The viewers who know the field roll their eyes in derision; those who don’t still sense that something’s off. The creators of Mr. Robot—showrunner Sam Esmail and his crew of consultants—get these things, small and large, right. When the characters type commands and codes on their laptops, what we see on their monitors is the real deal: no post-production green-screen gibberish here. In the early part of Season 1, before Elliot joins (or realizes that his schizoid self is leading) the revolution, he hacks his few friends, his boss, and his shrink, as well as a few miscreants (a child pornographer, a drug dealer, and his shrink’s philandering boyfriend) whom he blackmails or turns in to the authorities. The techniques he uses to crack their passwords or otherwise gain access to their files are real, time-tested tools. It’s so easy for Elliot (and for the many hackers in real life) and so shocking to his victims when they realize how wide-open they’ve left themselves.
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