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Original Content podcast: ‘The Platform’ offers a gruesome metaphor for capitalism

By Anthony Ha

“The Platform” is not a subtle movie.

That’s true of its approach to horror, with intense, bloody scenes that prompted plenty of screaming and pausing from your hosts at the Original Content podcast. It’s also true of its thematic material — right around the time one of the characters accuses another of being communist, you’ll slap yourself on the forehead and say, “Oh, it’s about capitalism.”

The new Netflix film takes place in a mysterious prison, with two prisoners on each level (they’re randomly rotated each month). Once each day, a platform laden with delicious food is lowered through the prison. If you’re on one of the top levels, you feast. If you’re further down, things are considerably more grim, and can become downright gruesome as the month wears on.

“The Platform” is a hard movie to sit through, and it has other faults, like an irritatingly mystical ending. But it’s certainly memorable, and even admirable in its dedication to fully exploring both the logistical and moral dimensions of its premise.

You can listen to our review in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

And if you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Intro
0:27 “The Platform” review
17:29 “The Platform” spoilers

How We Ended Up Short on Medical Equipment

By WIRED Staff
This week, we discuss the nationwide shortage of ventilators and protective equipment, and how we’re going to deal with it amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Original Content podcast: ‘Star Trek: Picard’ launches with a bumpy, memorable season

By Anthony Ha

Star Trek TV shows generally take a while to get good — but if any of them was going to have a strong start, you’d think it’d be “Star Trek: Picard.”

After all, it returns Patrick Stewart to the role that made him famous, that of onetime Starfleet captain Jean-Luc Picard. Plus, the writing team was led by Michael Chabon, author of beloved novels like “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay” and “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union.” (He also wrote a lovely New Yorker piece about writing for Star Trek while his father was dying.)

As we discuss on the latest episode of the Original Content podcast, the resulting show doesn’t quite avoid the standard first season growing pains, with a fast-paced pilot followed by several slow, setup- and exposition-heavy episodes. Throughout the season, the writers still seem to be figuring out what kind of show they want to be making, and it all ends with some preposterous, clunky twists in the two-part finale.

But even if “Picard” didn’t quite live up to our expectations, it’s still a pretty first season. It was genuinely moving to see Stewart on the bridge of a spaceship again, and to greet returning friends like Brent Spiner as Data (who died in the movie “Nemesis” but appears here in an opening dream sequence), as well as Jonathan Frakes as William Riker.

And despite its occasional clunkiness, the story finds new emotional notes for Picard, as he struggles to overcome decades of disillusionment and become the Picard we know. There’s also fresh science fictional territory, as “Picard” treats artificial intelligence and synthetic life more seriously than any previous Star Trek show.

You can listen to our review in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

And if you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:
0:00 Intro
0:19 “Star Trek: Picard” season 1 review
24:28 “Star Trek: Picard” spoiler discussion

When Coronavirus Misinformation Goes Viral

By WIRED Staff
This week on Gadget Lab, we discuss how misinformation about the pandemic is being handled by the government, the media, and social platforms.

Stripe goes Fast for $20M, D2C tips and tricks and what’s happening to tech internships?

By Natasha Mascarenhas

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

The three of us were back today — Natasha, Danny and Alex — to dig our way through a host of startup-focused topics. Sure, the world is stuffed full of COVID-19 news — and, to be clear, the topic did come up some — but Equity decided to circle back to its roots and talks startups and accelerators and how many pieces of luggage does an urban-living person really need?

The answer, as far as we can work it out, is either one piece or seven. Regardless, here’s what we got through this week:

  • Big news from 500 Startups, and our favorite companies from the accelerator’s latest demo day. Y Combinator is not the only game in town, so TechCrunch spent part of the day peekin’ at 500 and its latest batch of companies. We got into some of the startups that stuck out, tackling problems within the influencer market, trash pickup and esports.
  • Plastiq raised $75 million to help people and businesses use their credit card anywhere they want. And no, it wasn’t closed after the pandemic hit.
  • We also talked through Fast’s latest $20 million round led by Stripe. Stripe, as everyone recalls, was most recently a topic on the show thanks to a venture whoopsie in the form of a check from Sequoia to Finix.1 But all that’s behind us. Fast is building a new login and checkout service for the internet that is supposed to be both speedy and independent.
  • All the Stripe talk reminded us of one of the startups that launched so it could beat it out: Brex. The startup, which has amassed over $300 million in known venture capital to date, recently acquired three companies.
  • We chatted through the highlights of our D2C venture survey, focused on rising CAC costs in select channels, the importance of solid gross margins and why Casper wasn’t really a bellwether for its industry.

After that we had two quick hits, namely Natasha’s look at how tech internships cancellations are impacting our future workforce, and the latest from Slack.

And that wraps up what felt like a refreshing show. We hope you think so too, and thank you for listening. Stay healthy, all.

Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 AM PT and Friday at 6:00 am PT, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts.

  1. What do you call a check from Sequoia? A cheque!

Original Content podcast: Hulu’s ‘Little Fires Everywhere’ is agonizing in all the right ways

By Anthony Ha

“Little Fires Everywhere,” a new miniseries on Hulu, can be hard to watch.

Based on Celeste Ng’s novel of the same name, it takes place in the planned community of Shaker Heights during the 1990s, where the arrival of artist Mia (Kerry Washington) and her daughter Pearl (Lexi Underwood) sets something into motion that (we’re told in the opening scene) will eventually result in a fire that burns the lavish home of the wealthy Robinsons to the ground.

While the show has plenty of distinctive characters, it centers to a large extent on the prickly relationship between Mia and Elena Richardson (Reese Witherspoon). Every scene between them feels fraught, as Elena’s awkward and condescending attempts to prove that she’s a good person (and a not racist) are repeatedly rebuffed.

For reasons that it would be too spoiler-y to disclose here, the two of them eventually find themselves in conflict, and their children, along with Elena’s husband (it’s genuinely mind-blowing to see Joshua Jackson — Pacey from “Dawson Creek” — as a 40-something dad), get pulled in as well.

On today’s episode of the Original Content podcast, we review “Little Fires Everywhere,” laying out all the ways that the show’s initial episodes impressed us. We also offer some general recommendations for what to stream while you’re stuck at home.

You can listen in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple. You can also send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

And if you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:

0:00 Intro
1:09 Streaming recommendations
11:15 “Little Fires Everywhere” review
39:34 “Little Fires Everywhere” spoiler discussion (spoilers for first three episodes) surpassed $130M ARR before the remote-work boom

By Alex Wilhelm

As efforts to flatten the spread of COVID-19 pushes employees from their offices, remote work is undergoing a surge in popularity.

Well-known remote-work-friendly companies like Zoom have seen a rise in usage, while Slack has already reported that it is successfully converting new users into paying customers, which is pushing up its growth rate.

The pandemic is creating economic and social upheaval, but for a specific cohort of software companies that help distributed teams work together, it’s proven useful in business terms. But even before the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, execs from a standout project management company swung by TechCrunch HQ to chat with the Equity crew about their business and growth: 

What does an interview with’s Eran Zinman (co-founder and CTO) and Roy Mann (CEO) have to do with COVID-19? Well, if remote-productivity-friendly services Slack and Zoom are seeing usage spikes amidst the changes, is likely benefiting from similar gains. And during our chat with the company’s brass, the pair told TechCrunch that their company had crossed the $130 million annual recurring revenue (ARR) mark by mid-February. Add in a COVID-19 usage boost and perhaps (which doesn’t have a free tier) is seeing its growth accelerate.

Previously, announced that it had reached the $120 million ARR mark, and TechCrunch had inducted it into the $100 million ARR club earlier this year.

Revenue expansion was not our only topic. We also chatted with the pair of execs about customer acquisition costs and how to a run a SaaS business without terrifying burn. The crew had more news up their sleeve, like when they expect the unicorn to become cash-flow positive. 

We’ve excised a larger-than-usual chunk of the interview for sharing, as there’s a lot to take in:

After the jump, we dig a bit deeper into the obvious IPO candidate

Google Podcasts is finally available on iOS

By Brian Heater

Just in time for our collective house arrests, Google has unveiled a redesigned version of Podcasts. The revamped version of the app is centered around discovery, broken up into three primary tabs.

There’s Home, which features your current feeds; Explore, which offers up popular and curated shows; and Activity, which offers a deeper dive into listening habits. Honestly, though, the big news here is that the app is finally landing in the iOS App Store.

Launched last summer, the app quickly became the top podcasting app on Android, because, well, Google. There’s been some limited cross-platform availability by way of a browser. Obviously, native app support is much more appealing for iPhone and iPad owners looking to see what kind of alternative Google is offering to Apple’s own popular Podcasts app.

Users’ listening habits on the app will be syncable across platforms by way of the Google Podcasts for Web. The iOS version is available for download starting today. The Android update, meanwhile, will be rolling out to users this week.

Survey shows growth in podcasts and voice assistants, little change in streaming

By Eric Peckham

A new annual survey taken before the current COVID-19 crisis led to restrictions of movement in much of the U.S. suggests good news for Amazon, Facebook’s dominance unthreatened and continued growth in podcasting.

Edison Research and Triton Digital released their annual Infinite Dial survey last week, compiling data on consumers’ use of smart speakers, podcasts, music streaming and social media from 1,500 people (aged 12 and older) to compare year-over-year changes. Here are a few interesting findings:

Voice assistants and smart speakers

Sixty-two percent said they use a voice-based virtual assistant, most commonly via a phone or a computer. There has been a lot written about interactive voice as the next major medium for human-computer interaction after mobile phones, so it’s noteworthy to see that use of the technology is still associated with personal computing devices rather than hands-free smart speakers placed in the surrounding environment.

Smart speaker ownership did increase to 27% of respondents, up from 24% in 2019, even though respondents owned an average 2.2 speakers. In fact, the cohort that owned three or more speakers increased from one-quarter to one-third of owners in just a year, with Amazon Alexa continuing to dominate market share.

How I (remotely) podcast

By Brian Heater

Over the last five-plus years of my podcast, I’ve turned down a number of interview offers with artists who weren’t able to meet face to face. I know a lot of folks who do great podcasts remotely, and I’ve even done a few (relatively okay) ones myself. But there’s really no replacement for being able to do an interview face to face. So much nuance is lost amongst the cloud compression algorithms.

Over the last few weeks, however, it has become increasingly clear that the option won’t be available for while, as we adjust to this new normal. I’ve spent some of the downtime assessing the options, and the best way forward, both for my own (again, relative) sanity and, hopefully, to provide some comfort for folks who are similarly stuck at home for the foreseeable future.

Couple of caveats here. First, this one. This event is going to fundamentally alter a number of aspects of our lives for a while. Things like the way we work, socialize and consume will be different for a while. We’re also going to have so, so many podcasts. Like a stupid number of podcasts from bored people attempting to be bored together. I’ve always felt that more podcasts is generally a net positive, but this event is certainly going to test that hypothesis.

Second is the usual caveat of this series: This is what works best for my current situation. Your mileage may vary.

One of the things I’ve realized in all of this is that people are pretty forgiving. Expectations shift a bit when you can flip on CNN and see conversations with pundits on bad webcams through spotty Skype connections. Suddenly a low-fidelity video podcast doesn’t seem so bad. Even so, you still want to present the best product you can, even in far less than ideal circumstances.

One of the nice things about this gig is all of the hardware that comes through for testing. For those who don’t have the means to pay for pricier studio options, there are now a number of solid USB microphone options on the market. Blue’s stuff is generally decent quality for most of your podcasting and remote meeting needs, but a number of different companies have entered the market as well, as podcasting has exploded.

Currently I’m using the AKG Lyra. I’m pretty satisfied with the sound quality here. It’s priced about the same as the Blue Yeti and $100 cheaper than the Yeti Pro. The design is pretty eye-catching, though for my set up, it’s entirely out of frame. The controls on the mic are simple, a definite plus for those looking to plug and play. Lights on the front clearly indicate which of the four patterns (front, front and back, tight stereo, wide stereo) you’re using. I’m sure tens of thousands of podcasts have suffered sound issues from people with decent USB mics who simply have the thing in the wrong mode.

I also highly recommend buying a clip on windscreen. The one pictured above is the EJT Upgraded Microphone Pop Filter. It has a small adjustable vise grip on the side that connects to a wide range of models. It seems like something minor, but those popped Ps make a bigger difference that you’d think while editing podcasts.

Honorable mention goes out to the powerful little Rode NT-USB Mini. It’s got surprisingly great sound for its size — though less surprising coming from a company like Rode. At $99, this has replaced the Blue Raspberry as my favorite low-cost, ultra-portable mic. I fully plan to make it a fixture in my suitcase when traveling is an option again. Also worth pointing out is the clever magnetic stand that pops up to reveal threads for mounting atop a mic stand.

I am still using one important piece of Blue gear, however. I really prefer a pair of over-ear headphones for this purpose, and the Mo-Fi are big, solid and comfortable, with large earbuds that block ambient sound (I live in a New York apartment building, mind). For most intents and purposes, whatever headphones you have lying around should work, but if you plan to do this for a while, I recommend investing in a solid pair of headphones.

I’ve been using the webcam built into my Mac for video podcasts. Again, people are pretty forgiving. I do, however, highly recommend doing some video tests before going live. For starters, figure out what’s in-frame. If you have the ability to move your computer around, find an aesthetically pleasing background. But what’s just as — or perhaps even more — import is lighting.

Frankly, I’m still trying to figure out what to do with my setup. The current is… well, “jury-rigged” is probably the nicest way to say it:

Yes, it’s a small bedside lamp hung from a wall stud above my computer. Yes, you can see it in my glasses’ reflection when you watch the videos.

I’ve been using a handful of different options on the software side of things. Zencastr continues to be an excellent option for audio only. The software is custom built for podcasts and includes some excellent touches like simultaneously uploading individual tracks to the cloud. The company also greatly reduced the restrictions on their free tier to encourage amateur podcasting during this pandemic.

For another (unreleased) podcast I’m currently working on, we’re all using Skype and recording locally on Audacity. One of my co-hosts had too many connectivity issues with Zencaster, so we’re doing it more old-school.

This situation has found me playing around with video podcasts in earnest for the first time ever. I’ve been messing around with a number of different formats. My favorite so far is a combination of Zoom and YouTube Live. You’ll have to pay for a premium account to stream directly to YouTube or Facebook. It’s $14 a month for the lowest tier. I plan to keep subscribing at least through the end of the pandemic.

Zoom is great in that it lets you schedule a time and everyone else just has to log in. If you have a premium subscription, attendees can also dial in, in addition to the full webcam treatment. I recommend doing a couple of unlisted trial videos to make sure everything is up and running before you go live for the world. Also, have attendees call in a few minutes before the listed start time to make sure everything is working for everyone.

You’ll need to give yourself at least 24 hours for Zoom to connect to your Google/YouTube account, so I recommend doing that a couple of days in advance so you have time to troubleshoot.

Once you’re live, YouTube’s studio makes it easy to monitor the stream, comments and the like. I generally just set it to gallery mode to keep everyone on screen the entire time, save for musical performances, when I switch over to the single camera. Unfortunately, the watermark is present, unless you upgrade to a higher tier, but otherwise it does the trick. When you’re done, there’s a basic editor on board to trim the beginning and end of the broadcast.

These are, perhaps, not the most elegant solutions, but, again, people tend to be pretty forgiving about this stuff in the current climate. Sometimes they’re just happy to have someone keep them company — even if it’s only virtually.

Equity Monday: What’s going on with $100M rounds?

By Alex Wilhelm

Good morning friends, and welcome back to TechCrunch’s Equity Monday, a short-form audio hit to kickstart your week.

Equity was busy last week, so catch up if you missed anything. We interviewed the CEO of Y Combinator, hosted a call with the TechCrunch staff digging into our favorite Demo Day companies, hosted Equity Monday on a Tuesday, held a call with Niko from General Catalyst, and hosted a guest — remotely! — on the regular Equity episode. It’s been busy.

This morning, however, was very nearly a repeat. The things that were bad last week are still bad this week. Still, there were a few things to go over:

In fact, that round was such an oddity that we ran a search of big rounds this morning on the show instead of looking at some Seed financings. We’ll get back to Seed next week.

Looking ahead, there isn’t much to celebrate. We are stuck between earnings cycles and every conference has been cancelled or moved online. Oh, and SaaS valuations are falling. That said, we still expect to be exhausted by the evening every day of the week.

So, let’s stick together and do our best to help one another. I look forward to starting the week with a different topic for once; Equity Monday was effectively born on the doorstep of the COVID-19 world. But we won’t get there without collective action. We can all help.

Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 AM PT and Friday at 6:00 am PT, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts.

Original Content podcast: Apple’s ‘Amazing Stories’ is thoroughly unamazing

By Anthony Ha

It’s been two-and-a-half years since the news first broke that Steven Spielberg would be rebooting his ’80s anthology series “Amazing Stories” for Apple’s then-unnamed streaming service.

Now, after some behind-the-scenes drama, “Amazing Stories” has launched on Apple TV+, with the first two segments currently available. The first, “The Cellar,” is a time travel romance, while “The Heat” is a combination ghost story/murder mystery/sports drama.

As we explain on the latest episode of the Original Content podcast, it’s hard to tell exactly who this show was made for. Both of the episodes aired so far get pretty goofy, as if the show was made for kids — but they also move into surprisingly dark territory. Both start with familiar setups, then take some surprising twists and turns, but the results aren’t very satisfying.

In the end, it was hard for any of us to muster any enthusiasm for watching the show’s remaining three episodes.

You can listen to our full review in the player below, subscribe using Apple Podcasts or find us in your podcast player of choice. If you like the show, please let us know by leaving a review on Apple . You can also send us feedback directly. (Or suggest shows and movies for us to review!)

And if you’d like to skip ahead, here’s how the episode breaks down:

0:00 Intro
0:44 “Amazing Stories” review
25:50 “Amazing Stories” spoiler discussion

Do We Really Need More *Willow*?

By Geek's Guide to the Galaxy
Ron Howard is reportedly developing a series based on the  movie for Disney\+. Is that necessary? 

Kleiner’s new fund, Atrium is kaput and the latest data on seed rounds

By Alex Wilhelm

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

This week was packed with news, most of it pretty bad. But Zoom did well, so there’s that. Happily we had our dynamic pairing, Alex “Have I Died” Wilhelm and Danny “Good Hair” Crichton on hand to parse through it all. (A reminder that Equity now hits your podcast app twice a week now, so peep us Monday mornings!)

So what was on the docket? A host of things, starting with a big new early-stage fund:

  • Kleiner has more money, again. About a year after raising a $600 million vehicle, Kleiner Perkins raised a new, larger fund. Now flush with $700 million, the long-standing venture group has more money to play with than it has in recent memory. For early-stage deals, that is.
  • Atrium shut down after raising $75 million. Investors got some of their money back, but the company had to layoff its 100 employees. The lesson here is that famous backers and tenured founders can’t will something into existence that doesn’t work.
  • OYO is laying people off. Again. The major SoftBank Vision Fund-backed Indian hotel brand was supposed to be a massive hit. Now, with novel coronavirus and other challenges, it and global tourism are hitting snags.
  • We also poked at the Robinhood downtime that came during a period of sharp trading swings. The company has a lot of work to do to recover user trust, and continue to grow into its valuation. (More on that here.)
  • Zoom was the day’s good news, posting strong earnings (here), possibly indicating that remote-work companies are seeing demand for their products.

We closed on a pair of posts from Danny based on AngelList and DocSend data that shows how signaling risk for startups has changed over the years, and how many pre-seed investors the average founder talks to during their first fundraise.

That’s all from your friendly, local Equity crew. More soon!

Equity drops every Friday at 6:00 am PT, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts.

Equity Shot: What’s Elliott Management and why is it coming after Twitter and SoftBank?

By Alex Wilhelm

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

After a long Shot hiatus, things keep happening that demand our attention. So, after digging into Tesla’s near-miss of the $1,000 share-price mark, we’re back to dig into Elliott Management’s imposition into Twitter’s world after sticking its nose into SoftBank earlier this year.

Alex and Danny had a few goals in this short, news-driven Equity episode: To talk about what the activist investor wants Twitter to do, and what it has wanted other tech companies to do in recent memory.

The tech world, sitting behind a contented wall of dual-class shares and founder-worship, may find activist investors grubby and irksome, but they don’t care. And Twitter, a company that has famously loped along with a part-time CEO for longer than — admit it — you thought it would, is, in retrospect, an easy target.

Now that the social media company makes money on a repeatable basis, it’s more the sort of target that non-venture investors might want to peek at. They can make sense of it.

Danny and Alex then talk about Elliott’s multi-billion-dollar investment in SoftBank, where the activist hedge fund wants the Japanese conglomerate to provide more transparency to investors to increase the value of its shares. The question is whether Elliott can win in Japan, where corporate governance remains comparatively docile, and whether it has learned any lessons operating in Asia after the firm suffered one of its few major defeats in South Korea a few years ago when it failed to block Samsung from merging two of its affiliates together.

Equity drops every Friday at 6:00 am PT, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts.

Understanding 2020’s early-stage fundraising market

By Alex Wilhelm

Welcome to Equity on Extra Crunch, a semi-regular series of interviews between the Equity team, venture capitalists, and operating executives at the neatest startups. The goal of this irregular medium is to dig into topics that don’t fit inside of the standard Equity format, but are still critical to understanding what’s happening in the private markets.

To kick things off, we invited two of our favorite early-stage investors over to TechCrunch’s offices in San Francisco for a video chat. But for those of you who prefer to read things, we’ve also summarized the questions and answers.

Equity was happy to have Floodgate’s Iris Choi back in the studio, and we’re also excited to have Cowboy Ventures’ Jomayra Herrera around for the first time. Choi is an Equity regular, and Herrera recently took part in a piece we published digging into the split between enterprise and consumer seed deals. That’s what we call foreshadowing. Let’s begin.

We wanted to get advice from our two investors as to what founders seeking seed deals might want to do to avoid unnecessary agony.

Joanna Russ Was Sci-Fi's Most Outspoken Feminist

By Geek's Guide to the Galaxy
The 20th century author was also a formidable science fiction critic.

Gadget Lab Podcast: There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

By WIRED Staff
Silicon Valley’s influence over American workplace culture is now complete. Also, we bring you up to date on the latest cybersecurity news.

Coronavirus corrections and the rise of remote work

By Alex Wilhelm

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

What a week. What an insane, heart-stopping, odd and stuffed week. I’m utterly exhausted. But, in better news, all of that is great fodder for podcast and chat, so today’s Equity is pretty OK, if I may say so.

Danny and I chewed through all the stuff that we couldn’t get out of our heads, like the markets falling apart and DoorDash’s initial movement toward going public. But in keeping with the real beating heart of Equity, we also went over four venture rounds and spent some time talking about SoftBank.

We were also a little tired, so come laugh with us and avoid taking things seriously for a few minutes.

Here’s the week’s rundown. And, yes, I did figure out my mic in the end:

We wrapped with whatever this is, other than utterly hilarious and terrifying. We wish you all a lovely weekend. Chat you Monday morning.

Equity drops every Friday at 6:00 am PT, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts.

Every Sci-Fi Show Needs Characters Like in 'Years and Years'

By Geek's Guide to the Galaxy
The HBO drama has the kind of fleshed-out characters every show should strive for.