Sometimes getting what you want doesn’t magically make your life easier. That’s the lesson genius programmer Cameron Howe is learning in the upcoming second season of “Halt and Catch Fire.” The end of the first season saw Cameron starting a computer game company called Mutiny with friend Donna (Kerry Bishe). But they’re both discovering that the ideal of having your own company doesn’t necessarily match up to the reality, says Mackenzie Davis, who plays Cameron.
Where do we find Cameron at the beginning of the season?
We find her about nine months into the company that she created at the end of Season 1 under the auspices of having a leaderless, non hierarchical company where everybody was their own boss. It was founded on beautiful ideals of trust and respect and she’s discovering that that’s not actually a great way to run a company because there’s no one to answer to and no one to answer administrative things and it instills a lot of resentment, and there does need to be a boss. So, for the beginning of the second season, there’s a lot of Cameron negotiating between her ideals and her ambitions.
Will we start to see Donna and Cameron encounter sexism in the business world?
They’ve been few and far between, which I think the writers have handled really gracefully. Because they created their own company, they’re sort of living in this biodome within Texas. It’s the ’80s, and could potentially be very sexist when they pass the parameters of their biodome when they need to raise money for their company or go out into the real corporate world.
So they might be in for a rude awakening?
Yeah. Especially for Cameron. I mean, Donna has worked in the corporate world and has been at companies for years and is part of a generation of ambitious women who had to fight for all the rights that they have, and Cameron was the recipient of those struggles, so she hasn’t had firsthand experience with how dark the world outside her computer can be.
Even outside the show’s 1980s setting, it’s not very common for shows to focus on a business started by two women. Do you feel very conscious of how unusual that is?
I think like everything on the show as it’s related to our gender, it’s not something that we think about at all until we get asked by press. I mean, you’re just a human who is running a business. At no point are you like, man, I have a vagina! You’re just doing your job, and trying to do it as best you can, and the issue of what sexual organs you have or what you orientate yourself as doesn’t really come up until other people ask you about it, both within the show and external to it. So it doesn’t feel weird to film. It feels like playing an ambitious human being struggling to do the very best with the thing that she’s created.
Do you feel more confident about your computer knowledge now?
I am constantly astounded at how much information a human can take in and have it not transfer to knowledge. It’s one of the great discoveries of my life that I can read and learn and study and ask questions and feel in the moment like I understand something, but if I turn around and try to explain the most basic architecture of a computer to somebody, I’m like, I don’t know if I can.