Silicon Valley: HBO’s Fresh Spring Startup



author: Timmie

I think what draws me most to Silicon Valley is the weekly invitation into this very specific society.

On April 6th, HBO premiered its newest 30 minute comedy, Silicon Valley. The brainchild of television veteran Mike Judge, this series takes a detailed and slightly satirical look at culture and residents of California’s “Silicon Valley,” land of tech companies large and small.

Focusing on development of Pied Piper, the startup of straight man and main character Richard (Thomas Middleditch), Silicon Valley delves into the daily struggles of tech culture unlike any show I have seen before. Hooli (think Google perhaps?) programmer, Richard has unknowingly created an ingenious algorithm while developing a music streaming app, Pied Piper. When word gets around that this could basically change the internet, he is forced to choose between two offers: 10 million to sell the program and any rights to it, or 200 thousand to finish development and premiere the program himself. To be clear this all happens in the first 30 minute episode.

Spoiler: Richard decides to take the 200 thousand and put together a team of programmers/friends to bring the project to fruition.

I have to say that the ensemble casting is really what makes this show. As if the premise wasn’t enough, Richard is surrounded by a cast of characters who continually test his patience and authority as the creator of Pied Piper: Erlich (T.J. Miler) who is always the first to lay claim on his stake in the company, Gilfoyle (Martin Starr) the apathetic self proclaimed Satanist, Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani) the Pakistani smartass, and doofy Jared (Zach Woods) who is perhaps even more of a buzzkill than Richard. The combination of living under one roof, working together nonstop, and constant one-upmanship leads to some of the funniest and most natural dialogue in the series. When they aren’t baiting one another with techno prowess, they’re attending Satanic baptisms in hopes of winning the heart, or at least the bed, of a lady in the house.

While the ins and outs of creating a tech company are interesting, I think what draws me most to Silicon Valley is the weekly invitation into this very specific society. Of course the episodes are funny and witty. People wouldn’t keep coming back if they weren’t. But the series has something interesting to say about human nature, and the hierarchal systems that begin to form within any group of people, regardless of intelligence. Silicon Valley shows this on a small scale within each episode. Our ensemble cast is filled with cool kids (Erlich, Gilfoyle) and nerds (Richard, Jared). The same dynamic can be said for the two ultimate gurus of Silicon Valley, Gavin Belson (Matt Ross) and Peter Gregory (Christopher Evan Welch). Both respected for their accomplishments in the tech industry, Gavin is on a constant mission to be cool and aloof, while Gregory is shown as the more than certainly “on the spectrum” genius who avoids most social contact.

Most of the show takes places within the Silicon Valley bubble, but things get more interesting in the fourth episode, “Fiduciary Duties,” when the gang attends a lavish Toga party and is forced to mingle with the outside world. From the get-go it’s pretty clear that some of the members of our usual crew are more comfortable than others at this particular type of gathering. When they encounter some beautiful young women, they all quickly discover that the host, Peter Gregory, has paid these “cool kids” to attend his party, liven it up, and be friendly to all of the guests.

What’s the overarching metaphor? I think Ben Folds said it best with, “There’s Always Someone Cooler Than You.” On the bright side that means they’re always someone lamer than you…to be fair. Regardless, Silicon Valley is a show to watch this season on HBO. There are two episodes left in season one, so catch up before it’s over! HBO announced on April 21st, that they would be renewing the series for a second season in 2015, and I for one, am excited to see where the story will lead.

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