Wahoo stars Meryl Streep as Clarissa Clayer, a smart and powerful tech leader making a name for herself in Silicon Valley. Everything is going her way….that is, until, she becomes CEO of the laughably incompetent Wahoo! Inc. Filled with frantic marketing directors, overly-optimistic envisioneers, underly-optimistic interns, and perpetually loafing brogrammers, Wahoo is barely keeping it together. The pilot features Clarissa desperately trying to see the bright side of her new company and colleagues, with little success. The audience meets an idiosyncratic group of characters, first as they introduce themselves to Clarissa and then again as they share their real feelings about Wahoo to the camera. Determined not to lose her status in the industry, Clarissa swears to herself that not only will she save Wahoo, but she will make it the biggest name in technology.
Wahoo has mass appeal prospects because it draws from contemporary comedy standards and applies them to an original lead character in a new context.
As nerds become powerful multi-billionaires, old stereotypes about CEOs and computer-geeks go out the window. There are a few new shows poking fun at the tech world – Silicon Valley, The IT Crowd – but none feature knowledgeable female characters in leadership positions. Wahoo seeks to complement the tech-savvy elements from these shows with the female leadership style found in 30 Rock, Veep, and Parks and Rec.
One of our most important goals in developing Clarissa Clayer is that she be both admirable and flawed. Thanks to a slew of new female-centric comedies, audiences are seeing a more diverse and realistic assemblage of female characters. Clarissa’s appeal does not rely on her being singularly cool or powerful, shrill or helpless. It is her mistakes, personality quirks, and complicated character that make her human, funny, and relatable. Clarissa Clayer presents herself as a focused, pragmatic leader. But as she grapples with the shambles of Wahoo, we learn that she can be just as nerdy and self-conscious as her employees.
Because our daily life is dominated by technology, we often feel personally connected to particular companies and industry leaders. When the show pokes fun at Wahoo, or Gooble, or Spitter, it relies on the audience’s intimate understanding of these products and in what ways they are funny, kitschy, or absurd.
Wahoo is also appealing because it walks the line between preposterous and plausible. How many times have seemingly absurd items – the iPad, Google Glass – become an accepted parts of our culture? Wahoo exposes the viewer to the ludicrous yet believable inner-workings of a major tech company.