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"I don't want friends."
"You are probably going to be a very successful computer person. But you're going to go through life thinking that girls don't like you because you're a nerd. And I want you to know, from the bottom of my heart, that that won't be true. It'll be because you're an asshole."—Erica Albright
The Social Network is a 2010 film by David Fincher. Largely in flashback, it tells the story of the founding of the phenomenally successful Friending Network Facebook and the rise of its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, to the status of youngest billionaire in history (with some artistic liberties).
Set at Harvard, in the winter of 2003 Mark develops a student "hotness" rating website (using illegally obtained pictures) that becomes so popular it crashes Harvard servers. His resulting publicity catches the attention of the Winklevoss brothers (twins), who conscribe him to develop a Harvard exclusive networking website. Mark takes that idea and works out a related networking website with his close friend Eduardo, who fronts the money for the start-up costs.
The Facebook becomes an instant hit, with neither Mark nor Eduardo knowing exactly where to go from there. Along comes Napster legend Sean Parker who wiggles himself into the business and outlines how big this project is going to end up. Mark is enraptured by Parker's vision but Eduardo is constantly worried that it's growing too big too fast. On another front the Winklevoss twins are enraged that Mark effectively "stole" their idea, which raises the question of how closely The Facebook matches their original idea and the validity of Intellectual Property.
Jesse Eisenberg stars as Zuckerberg, Andrew Garfield as Eduardo Saverin, Brenda Song as Christy Lee and pop singer Justin Timberlake as Sean Parker. The script was written by Aaron Sorkin, adapted from Ben Mezrich's 2009 book The Accidental Billionaires. None of the Facebook staff, including founder Mark Zuckerberg, were involved with the project. One of the co-founders, Eduardo Saverin, was a consultant for Mezrich's book.
Film critics praised it to high heaven; among its accolades is declaration that this film is "the Citizen Kane of the 21st century." Among the frequently-mentioned strengths include the well-written script, beautiful visuals, and its tackling of the question of what it really means to be "connected" (or rather disconnected) in modern society. The general consensus seems to be that the film is one of those rare milestones that captures the spirit of the time it was made.
This film includes examples of:
- Acting for Two: Armie Hammer plays both of the Winklevoss twins -- well, sort of. See Double Vision below.
- Actually Pretty Funny: Despite their best efforts to maintain their professional composure, Sy and Marilyn have this reaction to several of Mark's snarky comments.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: Inverted with Divya Narendra. Aside from the Race Lift, the actor who played him doesn't have anything near his chiseled features in real life.
- In the audio commentary, Fincher states that he had conducted auditions and had read hundreds of Indian actors in several countries for the role, but settled on Max because of the "ambiguity" of his look - he cast a non-Indian actor to play an real-life Indian American character...because he wasn't too "Indian".
- Played straight with several of the other characters though, notably Eduardo and Mark.
- Also played straight with Justin Timberlake.
- Adult Child: Sean. While he's not as bad as other examples, he's quite childish in the way he expresses himself.
- Adults Are Useless: Granted the main characters aren't small children, but all the adults they go to for help simply blow them off - Prince Albert, the lawyers (one can almost forgive Mark for his Jerkass behavious towards them) and most of all the Harvard president Larry Summers.
- Affably Evil: Sean. For a Jerkass like him, he's very charming.
- All Men Are Perverts: The principle Facemash operates on in the film. In real life, however, Facemash featured comparison of male faces as well as female ones.
- Anti-Hero / Anti-Villain: Mark Zuckerberg. One could make a strong argument for both of them.
- Avoid The Dreaded R Rating: The DVD Commentary mentions that the note that says "u dick" was originally supposed to say something else. Also, strong language (as evidenced by the behind-the-scenes footage) and shots of drug use were cut for the PG-13 rating, and apparently scenes with more nudity were filmed - movie news websites said that the filmmakers were deliberating whether to keep or cut them.
- Asian Gal with White Guy: Eduardo and Christy. There's also a running theme of having pretty Asian girls in the film. Hell, Roger Ebert noticed it in his own review.
- Audience Surrogate: Marilyn, the junior lawyer.
- Berserk Button: When Eduardo finds out that he's been tricked by Mark and Sean, he seems inclined to beat one of them within an inch of their lives...then snatches a freaking laptop out of Mark's hands and smashing it on the table in front of him! He's just getting started...
- Bilingual Bonus: Amy's line, "Tu fait l'amour a la jolie fille" ("You've just made love to a pretty girl").
- Bittersweet Ending: Mark succeeds in creating Facebook and turning it into a company, but he's lost his best friend, his hero, and just about everyone else important to him. At least he's realized the consquences of his actions... maybe.
- Black Comedy: Has some tones of it.
- Bollywood Nerd: Divya Narendra.
- Book Ends: Beginning and ending scenes feature Zuckerberg being assessed by a more grounded female character; specifically whether he is an "asshole."
- Also, an Ironic Echo version -- the movie begins with Mark working with Eduardo on Facemash after being dumped by Erica. The movie ends with Mark trying to friend Erica on Facebook after seeing just how much of a chasm is now between him and Eduardo.
- Break the Cutie: Eduardo.
- Break the Haughty: Mark.
- Brick Joke: Mark's business card. "I'm the CEO, bitch." Of course, given the context of the second scene, it's not as funny as it should be.
- Broken Pedestal: Mark is quite admirative of Sean's power & ideas, but his faith in him wavers when he finds out about Sean's arrest.
- California Doubling: The filmmakers couldn't shoot at Harvard and had to shoot at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland. Some scenes were filmed at UCLA Film Schools in California. There are a few shots in the film that were sneak shoots of the greater campus area.
- A few places in the film were also sets.
- They did actually film in Massashusetts at the prep schools Phillip's Academy and Milton Academy. Admittedly California Doubling is the easiest when it comes to universities since most higher education universities and prep schools look the same.
- Cameo: An unaltered Josh Pence (who played the body of one of the Winklevoss Twins) as the guy asking if the bathroom's busy after Mark and Eduardo hook up with Alice and Christy inside.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Mark, to a varying extent and with varying degrees of justification, ends up screwing over just about everyone else involved in the creation process of Facebook.
- Clingy Jealous Girl: Christy. Made evident when she questions Eduardo having his Facebook relationship status as "single" and then sets his gift for her -- a silk scarf -- on fire in a trash bin and drops it on his bed.
- And then she has the audacity to ask him if he's going back already -- with a pouty face and great big puppy-dog eyes. Yikes, Eduardo wasn't kidding when he told Mark she was nuts.
- Closer to Earth: Seemingly the junior lawyer Marilyn.
- Composite Character: The film's Sean Parker is a composite of the real Sean Parker and Shawn Fanning (the latter actually founded Napster).
- Erica Albright is a stand in for Jessica Alona. Whether they were dating or or just friends has never been revealed.
- Creator Cameo: Writer Aaron Sorkin as a potential business investor.
- In the DVD Commentary, he describes it as the one scene he encouraged Fincher to cut.
- Dawson Casting: Jesse Eisenberg and Andrew Garfield were both 26 at the time of filming, playing 19-year-old Zuckberg and 21-year-old Saverin respectively; though they also play the characters a couple years down the line (2007?) in the Framing Device.
- Deadpan Snarker: Mark. Also, Harvard President Larry Summers in his verbal beatdown of the Winklevoss brothers.
- Almost everyone at one point or another. It was after all written by Aaron Sorkin.
- Demoted to Extra: Chris Hughes. To a lesser extent Dustin Moskovitz.
- Determinator: Eduardo, spending 14 hours a day riding subways in New York so that he can go around trying to attract advertisers for the site. And getting almost no name-brand takers.
- Digital Head Swap: To portray the Winklevoss twins, using two different actors with the first actor's head placed on the other's body.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: In the final scene where Marilyn, the junior lawyer on Mark's team explains to him how easy it would be for her to win the cases against him, she mentions how she doesn't have to prove anything, just ask the right questions that people will form the answers to in their own minds regardless of what he says. This is very much the trick the film uses too when it's making more serious implications about the actions of the characters. Did Mark steal Facebook? Did Mark try to cheat Eduardo out of Facebook? Did Mark leak the story about the chicken, did he call the cops on Sean's party? Is he an asshole? The film never outright says any of it, just gets you wondering...
- Double Vision: Did you know that the Winklevoss twins were played on set by two actors (Armie Hammer as Cameron and Josh Pence as Tyler), but Hammer's face was digitally superimposed in post-production onto Pence's body, so that the twins would look exactly alike? No, you didn't. Because it is seamless.
- Dramedy: At least up until the 2nd half.
- Dyeing for Your Art: Justin Timberlake lost 20 pounds in order to look younger, Max Minghella tanned his skin to play an Indian-American, and Josh Pence and Armie Hammer (the Winkelvi) were sent off to a sort of boot camp in order to train as rowers and learn each other's physical mannerisms.
- Empathic Environment: The lights begin to go out in the Facebook offices as Mark learns about Sean's arrest.
- Establishing Character Moment: Mark's "Do I Have Your Full Attention" speech is probably the moment that defines what kind of character Mark (was, a Insufferable Genius, he made a Heel Realization near the end) is in the story.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Mark felt that Sean's treatment of Eduardo in the scene where Eduardo gets fired from the company was going too far. He was also disgusted when he heard Sean was partying and doing drugs with a group of underage interns, and his reasons for exposing him were more than just as an executive decision.
- Eureka Moment: When Dustin asks if a girl in his class is in a relationship, Mark gets this which leads him into creating the relationship status.
- Everything Is Online: Played with: in the beginning of the movie, Mark specifically mentions that because a certain college house's database isn't online, he can't access any of the photos for Facemash. But this is a movie about Facebook, so one of the major themes is, of course, everything (from angry drunken break-up rants to the dreaded relationship status) becoming available online.
- One of Sean's big lines is how society has moved to bigger and bigger comunities, farms to cities. Now, everyone will live "on the internet."
- Fake Nationality: American-born and UK citizen Andrew Garfield playing Brazilian-born Eduardo Saverin.
- Indian American Divya Narendra was played by English actor Max Minghella, who is of Italian, Scottish, and Chinese descent, not without minor controversy. The DVD Commentary with the cast stated that Minghella was artificially tanned for the role, which lead to a hilarous moment when Armie Hammer and Josh Pence met the real Divya Narendra. They decided to introduce him to Max Minghella and convinced him (as a joke) to speak in a thick Sim Sim Salabim accent. Upon hearing him, Minghella turned white and spent the next 30 minutes apologizing profusely for his performance.
- First Law of Tragicomedies: The film's last act is more serious in tone.
- Flash Back
- Framing Device: Dual depositions, one of Zuckerberg v. Saverin, and the other Zuckerberg v. the Winklevoss twins.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: During the millionth member party, the screen is refreshed to show 1,000,046 people have joined Facebook. This is at exactly 1 hour, 46 minutes, and 46 seconds into the movie.
- Frivolous Lawsuit: Mark considers the Winklevoss's and Divya's lawsuit to be one of these, and Marilyn freely admits that they could probably win the case against them if Mark himself was not so socially awkward and unfriendly. Fincher and Sorkin have in fact been criticized by writers such as this one for presenting their case in an overly sympathetic light.
- Gentleman and a Scholar: Cameron Winklevoss is very reluctant to sue initially because "gentlemen of Harvard" do not drag other students through the courts.
- GIFT: Mark, absolutely. While obnoxious enough in person he becomes even worse behind a computer screen.
- Girl-On-Girl Is Hot: Two women are shown kissing in the FaceMash montage. Partially justified; it's open for interpretation whether it's actually happening in the elite clubs or simply a figment of the characters' imagination.
- Gray and Gray Morality: None of the main characters are presented as either totally sympathetic or despicable. Mark is an arrogant Jerkass, but a smart one with shades of a tragic hero; the Winklevosses are just as arrogant and jerk-y rich boys who seem to think the world owes them one, but they don't want to drag Mark through the court system and are honestly convinced that he stole the idea for Facebook; Divya is right up there with them; Sean is selfish and obnoxious, but more of a weakling than a straight-up asshole and he does know what he's talking about business-wise; Christy is just bat-shit crazy rather than truly malicious; Eduardo comes the closest to being a straight up good guy, but shows some of the most hesitance and timidity over the importance of Facebook.
- Eduardo's great flaw is that he can be incredibly passive-aggressive and vindictive when someone crosses him. Pointing out that he hadn't grabbed any investors yet was enough for him to basically take his ball and go home. While it comes off as a CMOA, his reactions after Mark and Sean dilute his shares to nothing is essentially that of a child whose been told he can't play in the sandbox anymore.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Mark is jealous of Eduardo for securing a place in the Phoenix club, and Eduardo's lawyer suggests this might have been part of the reason he cut Eduardo out of the company. It's also suggested that Eduardo is jealous of Sean and his success.
- Hate Sink: Sean Parker
- Heel Realization: Mark experiences this, after Eduardo berates him & Sean in the office, along with Marilyn's speech towards him.
- Hero Antagonist: The Winkelvi may be this. Eduardo counts in his opposition of Mark, to a extent.
- Heroic BSOD: Eduardo's scene in the Facebook office.
- Hide Your Gays: Perhaps an inadvertent consequence of the film's focus on the characters' misogynistic world. Or deliberate because of the chosen narrative. Of the four Facebook founders (and Sean Parker), the openly gay Chris Hughes is the only one whose romantic life or sexuality isn't depicted in any way (on the other hand, he simply didn't have many lines at all). However, nameless women are shown kissing each other during the FaceMash montage.
- In all fairness the shot of two girls kissing at the party is a counter point to four nerds staring at a computer screen. It's used to show that they are not the cool kids on campus.
- Hollywood Hacking: Largely averted, with some lapses. The hacking shown in-film is, as in real life, a process of reading code and trying out strategies based off of the security settings of the target. The character's progress through the Harvard databases is even shown through on-screen time markers to match up with what really happened in 2003. This sequence is lifted verbatim from Zuckerberg's diary and is thus very accurate. However, later in the film Zuckerberg tests potential interns with a hacking challenge, described with a burst of incoherent jargon, and to be performed while drinking shots in front of a cheering audience.
- Zuckerberg's real diary was not on Live Journal, but is depicted there in the film. Brad was amused. Live Journal is depicted with a derivative of the Xcolibur site scheme, which did exist in 2003, although the default was still Dystopia. The page closely resembles the actual light version of update.bml though the movie version lacked LJ's actual automatic timestamping.
- As noted under the Rashomon, the second example may be justified considering Eduardo (who knows little about computers) is recounting the story.
- Honor Before Reason: Tyler and Divya want to sue Mark after they find out he started his own social network site. Cameron refuses to at first because "We're gentlemen of Harvard."
- Identical Twin ID Tags: The Winklevoss twin's hairstyle.
- Insufferable Genius: Mark fits this to a capital T.
Mark: [after the opposing lawyer asks if he has Mark's full attention] I think if your clients want to sit on my shoulders and call themselves tall, they have a right to give it a try, but there's no requirement I enjoy sitting here listening to people lie. You have part of my attention. You have the minimum amount. The rest of my attention is back at the offices of Facebook, where my colleagues and I are doing something no one in this room, including and especially your clients, are intellectually or creatively capable of doing. Did I adequately answer your condescending question?
- Internet Tough Guy: Erica accuses Mark of this.
Erica: You write your snide bullshit in a dark room because that's what the angry do nowadays.
- Inventor of the Mundane
- Ironic Echo: Many subtle instances.
- The first scene ends with a woman accusing Mark of being an asshole. The movie ends with a woman reassuring Mark he isn't an asshole, but he's trying hard to be one.
- Mark claims he would bring Erica to final club events to help her meet a higher caliber of people. She seems to respond sincerely "You would do that for me?", but immediately breaks up with him, having considered his offer an insult. When the Winklevosses and Divya pitch the Harvard Connection project to Mark, they offer it as a chance to rehabilitate his image after Facemash.com. He responds "You would do that for me?", and proceeds to create a similar website without them. Eduardo notes he does so because he found the idea that would need to rehabilitate his image since Facemash gave him the notoriety he wanted.
- Mark and later Sean complain that the larger organizations they've upset don't "have a sense of humor." The latter says this when the two first meet, which seems to earn Mark's admiration and loyalty.
- Irony: Erica's statement that Mark acts "as if every thought that tumbles through [his] head was so clever it would be a crime for it not to be shared" mirrors a common complaint of Facebook (and also Twitter) detractors.
- Ivy League for Everyone: Subverted, and that's kind of the point. ("You go to BU!") Originally, Mark only intended the website to be for Harvard students, and then after that only to top-tier schools like Stanford.
- Jerkass: Even compared to the assholish things Mark did, Sean definitely qualifies.
- The President of the University could outclass even Sean.
- Jerkass Facade: Hypothesised by Marilyn regarding Mark. The audience, meanwhile, is left to reach their own conclusions.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: They leave this up in the air with Mark.
- Kick the Dog: Sean handing Eduardo his paltry check to rub salt in his wounds after the company ditched him. It almost got him punched, and even Mark called him out on it.
- Lack of Empathy: Mark, Mark, and did we perhaps mention Mark? Interestingly, he's seldom overtly malicious. It's just that he doesn't generally know or care about the damage he's causing. Even after his Heel Realisation, it's still implied that he doesn't quite get it.
- The Lancer: Eduardo.
- Let's Just Be Friends: Erica to Mark. When he replies that he doesn't want friends, she says she was just being polite and has no intention of actually staying friends with someone like him.
- Lonely At the Top: Mark is clearly not a happy man by the end.
- Love Hurts: Erica breaking up with Mark, which led to the creation of Facebook.
- Male Gaze: There are quite a few shots simply of attractive women walking away from the camera.
- Particularly with Amy, whose one three-minute scene consists almost entirely of lingering shots of her butt in a pair of Stanford panties (to the point that she's just known as "Stanford" to many viewers). And, of course, one of these lingering shots was prominently featured in the trailer.
- Manipulative Bastard : Sean is good at emotionally manipulating Mark into doing some things.
- Man Scorned: Mark's behaviour after Erica dumps him is an inversion of the trope usually applying to females.
Eduardo: It's not that guys like me are generally attracted to Asian girls. It's that Asian girls are generally attracted to guys like me.
- Meta Casting: The co-founder of Napster, a site specializing in illegal downloading of music, is played by pop star Justin Timberlake; also, Parker is Famed in Story, and Timberlake is the biggest name in the cast.
- Also, several members of the cast, including Armie Hammer, Max Minghella, and (ironically) Rooney Mara, come from the type of wealthy families the film's Mark Zuckerberg resents.
- Mixed Metaphor:
Sean: Ah ha. The shoe's on the other...
Sean: ... table, which has turned.
- Morality Pet: Eduardo & Erica are this to Mark.
- Motor Mouth: Both Mark and to a greater degree, Sean. Eduardo even remarks that the latter must have set some sort of record. Of course, any Aaron Sorkin character at least comes close to this at some point; Fincher directed the actors to talk faster, as the script was a little too long.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Mark, after seeing Eduardo's breakdown in the office.
- Nerds Are Sexy
- Never My Fault: Sean in particular has this problem, blaming the Winklevii and/or Manningham for planting the coke and calling the cops eventhough it's pretty clear Sean could have stopped the coke use and flushed it all if he really wanted to. He also doesn't seem to understand how record companies would be pissed to see you take money away from them, chalking it up to them not having a sense of humor. Most of the rest of the crew does this as well, blaming others when it's either partially or completely their own fault. Mark is admonished for this trope twice by Erica.
- New Media Are Evil: Some reviewers have argued that this is one of the underlying messages of the film.
- Nice Guy: Eduardo.
- Beware the Nice Ones: When he calls out Mark.
- Nice Hat: Averted. The hat that Eduardo wears during the "Caribbean Night" party was specifically chosen to be the dumbest hat the costume designers could find.
- No Social Skills: Mark.
- Not Me This Time: Mark did lots of bad things, but planting the story about the chicken was not one of them... Maybe.
- Oh Crap: Sean, when the cops break up the party at the end and catch him with cocaine, which leads to his being fired from the company.
- One-Scene Wonder: Douglas Urbanski as Larry Summers appears in only one scene where the Winklevoss brothers try to persuade him to take action against Mark, and completely steals it with impeccably timed snarky retorts.
- A less literal version: Rooney Mara as Erica Albright only appears in three scenes, one of them very brief, for a total of roughly five minutes of screen time, but is considered by some to be one of the best parts of the movie. And she impressed David Fincher enough to land the role of Lisbeth Salander in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
- One of These Is Not Like the Others: Narendra is getting riled up.
Every minute this site is up HarvardConnection becomes less valuable. I want an injunction, I want damages, I want punitive relief and I want him dead.
- Pet the Dog: No matter what happened, Mark seemed to genuinely appreciate Eduardo for his contributions ("I need you!") and even after their schism would apparently defended him on reputation destroying evidence his lawyers dug up. The biggest moment was Mark telling Sean that he went too far whilst kicking out Eduardo from the company. It's pretty much the only time in the film that he shows any sign of regret.
- Playing Against Type: Jesse Eisenberg, previously known for playing Adorkable characters plays an antisocial jerk.
- Pragmatic Adaptation: The film deviates from what actually happened in Real Life (see Very Loosely Based on a True Story), but the overall film is more of a interpative look at the events & people behind Facebook.
- Precision F-Strike: Swear words are frequently put in a sentence by some characters.
- Power Trio: Tyler Winklevoss (Id), Cameron Winklevoss (Superego), and Divya Narendra (Ego)
- Rashomon Style: Sorkin specifically mentions this movie as the way he wrote the screenplay, though we never see the same events twice. Instead, it's subtly implied that segments of the film may be from the viewpoint of whichever party (Mark, Eduardo, or the Winklevoss twins) is currently testifying in the deposition Framing Device. To wit, this exchange after the Eduardo deposition:
Mark: I'm not a bad guy.
Marilyn: I know. Any time there's emotional testimony, I assume 85% of it is exaggerated.
Mark: And the other 15%?
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: A devastating one from Erica to Mark
Erica: Listen, Mark. You're probably going to be a very successful person in computers, but you're going to go through life thinking that girls don't like you because you're a nerd. And I want you to know, from the bottom of my heart, that that won't be true. It'll be because you're an asshole."
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Tyler Winklevoss wants to sue Mark immediately. Cameron Winklevoss consistently has cold feet regarding the idea, being too concerned about their image as Harvard gentlemen.
- Rule of Drama: Yes, the filmmakers have freely admitted to making scenes up and playing around with the date of events, but their purpose was to make a Citizen Kane-esque story of success-with-tragedy. The screenwriter's done this before.
- Not to mention the final exchange between Mark and Marilyn casts doubt on the authenticity of the testimonies concerning Mark's alleged wrongdoings. Basically, the film is not trying to be a just-the-facts story of the minds behind Facebook, because some of those minds may not be telling the truth.
- Scenery Porn: The amazing views of Harvard in winter can make a viewer wish he or she had studied a ludicrous amount and was born much, much richer. Ironically, a majority of the film was actually shot at Johns Hopkins University, as Harvard has refused most filming permits for decades. The crew was allowed to shoot at Harvard only for select, uncomplicated shots.
- Sex Sells: Obviously, the "Stanford" butt shot just had to be in the trailer. Even if Amy is only in the movie for about three minutes.
- Shiksa Goddess:
Dustin: I'm developing an algorithm to define the connection between Jewish guys and Asian girls.
Eduardo: I don't think it's that complicated. They're hot, they're smart, they're not Jewish and they can't dance.
Cameron Winklevoss: Like my brother and I are in skeleton costumes chasing The Karate Kid around a high school gym.
- The unidentified movie star at Harvard in 2003 was Natalie Portman, who was a consultant on the film.
- Sidetracked by the Analogy: Sean Parker uses the metaphor of a fisherman having his photo taken with one big Marlin instead of 15 trout. Eduardo goes into all the technical details, like how much a Marlin could weigh in real life and how strong the fisherman would have to be, while an irate Mark tells him that he's missing the point.
- Shown Their Work: Yes, this film does run on Rule of Drama, but the filmmakers do get a good amount of real-life details in there.
- Once David Fincher discovered in his own research that Mark was actually drinking a specific brand of beer when he created Facemash, Fincher insisted on changing the drink for the movie (over Sorkin's protests). Of course, given Fincher's reputation as a perfectionist, this is to be expected.
- Also, for a completely different campus dressed up using set decoration (a majority of filming for the Harvard scenes took place at Johns Hopkins University, due to Harvard's refusal to allow much filming on campus), they spent much care in trying to replicate the look and feel of Harvard.
- The real Mark Zuckerberg, although he's been understandably quiet about his portrayal or the film's plot in general, has seen the film and has publicly expressed only a single comment about the movie's content: it was extremely accurate in its depiction of his wardrobe -- Every pullover or t-shirt Zuckerberg is seen wearing is something that the real Mark Zuckerberg actually wore in college.
- Shout-Out: During the scene where Eduardo finds out he's been accused of animal cruelty, Mark tells him he's created an alias account on Facebook to help him cheat on his final. Looking at Mark's computer shows the name he has decided on: Tyler Durden.
- Smug Snake: Eduardo very clearly considers Sean to be this. Sean seems to be a subversion of the trope though, as despite being a jerkass who does himself in eventually, his ideas about what direction to take Facebook are all correct from a business sense. To this end, Dustin Moskovitz said the following about the real-life Parker: "He deserves less credit for making Facebook what it is than he thinks he does, but more than anyone else thinks he does."
- Sorkin Relationship Moment: This time in a non-romantic friendship. Eduardo cutting off funds was framed in the film as him trying to get Mark to cut the crap and pay attention. (A little bit of a stretch, but possibly worth mentioning since the screenwriter is the Trope Namer.)
- Spell My Name with a "The": The Facebook, which was what it was actually called back in the day.
- Spiritual Successor: To Fight Club, possibly. Essentially, The Social Network could be interpeted as Fight Club for nerds.
- Maybe Pirates of Silicon Valley, too?
- Tag-Team Twins: The Winklevosses.
Tyler Winklevoss: I'm 6'5, 220 [pounds], and there's TWO of me.
- Technician Versus Performer: Mark is a technician in all things CS-related. Eduardo is a technician in business and finance. Sean is a performer in both, which is what makes him incredibly effective in boosting Facebook and influencing Mark.
- This Is for Emphasis, Bitch: "I'm CEO, bitch!" Serves also as a stealth Ironic Echo.
- Token Evil Teammate: Sean.
- Took a Level In Badass: The somewhat passive Marylin effectively tells Mark what she thinks of him at the end.
- Tragic Hero: Mark.
- Trailers Always Lie: The soundbite in the trailer of Mark being read his charges ("You are being accused of intentionally breaching security, violating copyrights, violating individual privacy...") gives the impression that he's being accused of doing all of this by making Facebook. It's actually the Harvard Ad Board referring to Facemash, an unrelated website that he created in college.
- Trailers Always Spoil: True, it's based on real events, but multiple events from the final act (the party; Eduardo's last scene; reaching 1,000,000 members on the website) are featured prominently as money shots in the trailer. It can leave a "that's it?" effect when the Where Are They Now? Epilogue begins.
- Twofer Token Minority: In-universe - Eduardo, trying not to be overly optimistic, suggests that he only got punched by the Phoenix for diversity purposes (Eduardo is both Jewish and half-Brazilian), and Mark snidely agrees with him.
- Unreliable Narrator: see Rashomon Style above.
- Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Many of those depicted have spoken about how inaccurate they felt the film was. Zuckerberg, for instance, did break up with his girlfriend and create Facemash, but she was not really a motivating factor for the creation of Facebook, as in the movie. Sorkin openly acknowledged that the film is not accurate, saying: "I don’t want my fidelity to be to the truth; I want it to be to storytelling."
- Facemash.com included guys of Harvard, not just women.
- Examined more seriously here.
- And another serious article.
- Perhaps most egregiously, Mark Zuckerberg actually had a girlfriend during most of the events depicted in the film. Her name is Priscilla Chan, and they've been together since 2003, marrying in 2012. Much of the movie hinges on depicting Mark as a lonely nerd who never got over losing his college girlfriend.
- "Well Done, Son" Guy: Eduardo is looking for acceptance by his father, subtly mentioned in a few scenes.
- What You Are in the Dark: Erica compares Mark's online insults to this.
- Where Are They Now? Epilogue: Presented in text-only over the final shot.
- Woman Scorned: Christy.
- World of Snark
- Villainous Breakdown: Mark does when on the phone with Eduardo, and Sean gives a somewhat calm but clearly shaky one speaking on the phone with Mark during his arrest.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Mark may or may not have pulled this on Sean, by possibly calling the cops on Sean's party, thus creating a situation where Sean would have to be fired to avoid embarrassing the company. He also essentially did this to Eduardo when he diluted Eduardo's stake in Facebook down to a pittance.
- We Used to Be Friends: Mark and Eduardo were good friends as they worked together to make Facebook. When Mark kicks Eduardo out of the company, things go downhill.