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YMMV / Halt and Catch Fire

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  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Was Donna's push for the Mutiny IPO justified or selfish?
  • Continuity Lock-Out: Like many AMC original series, to fully understand what's going on, one has to start at "I/O".
  • Cult Classic: The show has a devoted following, but with its niche subject matter, it never drew the same numbers like AMC's previous efforts such as Mad Men and Breaking Bad.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: Ratings for the first season were abysmal, and the fact that at least two of the three main characters were complete assholes, and that no period of happiness for anyone lasted longer than five minutes or so, probably had something to do with it.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Donna Clark started out as Gordon's naggy wife, though she quickly came into her own and became the show's Deuteragonist alongside Cameron in Season 2. However, her actions in the Season 3 finale and Season 4 push her into Base-Breaking Character status.
    • While Bosworth is the least focused on character among the main cast, he is considered a fan favorite for his likable, down-to-earth Good Ol' Boy personality.
    • In season 4, Haley Clark developed a fandom almost overnight after it was revealed that she was gay.
  • Follow the Leader: With its period setting in a high-profile industry, brooding protagonist with a mysterious past and penchant for inspirational monologues, and female Determinator co-lead, the show was clearly inspired by Mad Men.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • Cameron actually really lucked out that Atari took a pass on her game, given their imminent collapse with the failure of the Jaguar.
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    • Anyone familiar with the Morris worm will know where things are going when Gordon starts excitedly talking about writing a program to map the true size of Mutiny's network.
  • Growing the Beard: Critical consensus is that the show began really improving in the second season.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • In the episode "The Threshold", during Cameron's belated wedding reception after Donna and everyone else votes to have Mutiny in the IPO, Cameron furiously rips into Donna about her marriage collapsing as a result of Donna working all hours to which Donna points out to Cameron that she's a newlywed and is in no position to judge her about her marriage failing, fast forward two episodes later, Donna is now divorced from Gordon.
    • In the third-season finale, Cameron accuses Donna of treating other people like they're disposable once they no longer serve a purpose to her. In season 4, it's revealed that Donna divorced Gordon in order to advance her career.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Lev is revealed to be gay in "Extract and Defend." The Supreme Court effectively legalized gay marriage across the U.S. a couple of days before the episode aired.
    • Yo-yo's Backgammon game is rejected because its size and color makes it more appropriate for a cartridge game. In "Kali", Cameron sells the game "Extract and Defend" to a company making games for the soon-to-be-released Nintendo Entertainment System.
    • Season 3 opens with a scene where Bosworth sings a Frank Sinatra song. In Feud: Bette and Joan, Toby Huss plays Frank Sinatra.
    • In season 3's "Rules of Honorable Play", while Donna and Cameron are looking at a new house for Cameron, the realtor makes an insinuated remark speculating that Donna and Cameron are lesbians, fast forward a month later guess what Mackenzie Davis plays on Black Mirror?
    • In Season 2's "Play With Friends", while Cameron and Tom are in bed they talk about renting the then-new The Terminator movie and recite lines from the movie in Russian and German accents, in March 2018 it was revealed that Mackenzie Davis would star in Terminator: Dark Fate.
  • Ho Yay: Donna seems like she might like women, too. Her dynamic with Cameron feels almost like she's married to her, and she seems a bit more flustered than expected at seeing another woman changing in a washroom. It's also implied that she Experimented in College when she and Gordon jokingly type dirty messages into Cameron's Giant OS. The possibility gains even more traction with Donna's clear disappointment that Diane wants to take Bosworth out as a plus one, and her explicit statement to Cameron that a real estate agent thinks the two of them are a couple. Later when she housesits for Diane, she drapes herself in Diane's clothes, then strips completely naked and tries them on. And then later that night, in a fantasy brought on in part by drugs she was taking earlier, she imagines that she is lying next to Cameron on the grass and saying that the two of them need each other. In Season 4, she insists on kissing a female subordinate on the cheek.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
  • Like Brother and Sister: Cameron apparently has this dynamic with Gordon and to a lesser extent with Ryan Ray.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Westgroup crossed it in "Limbo" after they cloned Mutiny and hijacked their customer base.
    • From Cameron's view, Donna crossed it in "Yerba Buena", when Cameron finds out the truth about Diane's decision to allow her to fire the SwapMeet founders. Cameron's trust in Donna is definitively severed in "The Threshold" when the latter wants to move forward with Mutiny's IPO, while the former wanted to wait and improve.
    • In "Tonya and Nancy", Bos becomes the latest person to exploit Cameron when, in a desperate bid to get financing for the Rover project, he manipulates Cameron into writing a crucial algorithm for him, knowing full well that it would damage her burgeoning relationship with Joe if he found out about it.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • In "FUD", Joe turns on nearly every stereo at full blast in a hi-fi audio store, creating an auditory nightmare.
    • In "Landfall", Gordon finds a dead body near a downed power line. In the following episode, Gordon has a nightmare where he's the one lying on the ground dead, and his screaming scares his daughters.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Carol Kane appears in the final episode as a fortune teller who barely tries to pretend it's not a sham.
  • The Scrappy: Cameron has received a lot of hate from the viewers for her bratty behavior.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Gordon's wake and funeral take place offscreen in "Goodwill." This would have been a great opportunity to have some of the old Cardiff/Mutiny code monkeys like Yo-Yo, Lev, and Bodie make cameos in Season 4. Instead, they don't appear at all in the show's final season.
  • What an Idiot!:
    • In "Adventure", Gordon drunkenly talks shit about his father in-law's catalog company to the Japanese, especially when said father-in-law was the one who brokered the meeting in the first place.
    • In "Landfall", Gordon fails to check a package to see if it contains a Cabbage Patch Kids doll before giving $80 to a complete stranger.
    • In "New Coke", Gordon sends his former colleague Stan to pick up Haley and Joanie without calling the school. Then again, Gordon was high on cocaine.
    • In "The Way In", Gordon doesn't think to do a test run of his program on an isolated copy of the Mutiny BBS (or at least give it a second look to debug it) before merrily uploading it and running it on the real thing. Disaster strikes when his program eats the BBS's software.
    • In "The Threshold", Gordon unintentionally exacerbates tensions by trying to warn Donna off pushing with the IPO, but then rushing to Cameron and telling her Donna plans to continue and that he would have to vote with her. Had he told Donna flat out he wouldn't vote with her and that he would secure Bosworth's support as well, Cameron might have instead been willing to work with Donna to hammer out an acceptable timeframe for the IPO.
    • In "Valley of the Heart's Delight", Donna and Cameron seem unusually blasé about the huge security implications of people being able to spy on private chat conversations between users. They do later make passing acknowledgement of the fact that it's against the user agreement to be able to spy on private chats, however. In addition, this unintentionally PO's Ryan enough that it helps motivate him to move to MacMillan Utility rather than improving and streamlining Mutiny's software (which might cut their costs and improve their scalability).
  • The Woobie:
    • John Bosworth. After losing nearly everything, it's hard not to feel sorry for him.
    • Season 2 brings Cameron into this category as there are times when she has lost nearly everything she's worked for.

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