Silicon Valley Mid-Season Thoughts

Mike Judge’s Silicon Valley is a tech life parody so close to home, literally and figuratively, that it’s a simultaneously knee slapping and face-palming to San Francisco Bay professionals existing in and around America’s second notable dot com bubble. This is satire at its finest and here’s why.

Stumbling upon the next culture-changing algorithm, the show begins with the typically awkward, low confidence developer Richard Hendricks forgoing billions of investment capital from one evil tech giant, only to be wooed by another less evil tech giant which seemingly believes in the innovation behind his idea. The story of this highly valued algorithm at the heart of the curiously named startup, Pied Piper, follows Richard and his band of developer misfits following his tune in hopes of becoming tomorrow’s Business Insider front-page headline. Not only is the company name, likely homage to Napster, a testament to the world’s authenticity, but helps root the comedy in accurate tech culture trivia, references, and history. It’s was a formula proven effective in Office Space and now taken to a new level in Silicon Valley. Their really good, fake website is a case in point.

Pied Piper's Website is better than ours. And probably many others out there.

Pied Piper’s website is better than ours. And probably many others out there.

 

Because Pied Piper takes the “high road” with Richard Gregory’s company, this highlights the ongoing war of the two tech titans. Gregory represents innovation in it’s purest form and with that, comes social awkwardness in it’s finest form that surfaces in myriad laughable situations. In the other corner at the helm of deep pocketed faux Google, Hooli, is the cocky visionary who pretty much plays whack-a-mole with his money. The moles being any sort of “next big thing” opportunity – kind of how like Facebook just bought Oculus Rift. I digress. This duality sets the tone for a show that keeps me guessing at what curve ball Hooli is going to throw towards Hendricks and company in each episode.

Hooli represents the amalgamation of visionary mission statements of all tech companies, particularly when we find Hendricks on the Hooli bus heading to work watching an eye-sore of a corporate propaganda video. It’s obvious Hooli reeks of traits we see in other popular companies: like the bullish, risk averse investment gumption of Facebook, the haunting world-changing ambition of Google, and the pseudo-quirky pillars of company culture of every startup South of Tiburon. Hooli’s brand video is completely convoluted as we hear Belson spouting off hyperbolized statements relating to how generally amazing the company is. This is a Generic Brand Video came to mind for me

The vernacular accuracy also proves to be completely accurate with their classification of brogrammers and a regular devloper, quirky marketeers having meetings on bikes, and hired hotties (both women and men by the way) paid to attend parties and socialize. Having witnessed this at PAX Prime in 2012 while attending a Twitch party, I noted a few mental brownie points in Silicon Valley’s favor. There’s plenty more to support the detailed and properly nuanced writing but that’s something for you to enjoy on your own accord – the show is as good and funny as you want it to be. Or for some, it could completely turn you off.

Building atop of the nuances of actual and perceived Bay Area working culture, the cast of quirky, yet endearing misfits draws eerie parallels to all of us corporate worker bees. The level of authenticity indicates the wealth research poured into the writing, which helps elevate what could be a pedestrian sitcom into a witty, smart, and hilarious drama of sorts. Despite the horrific reminder of how we continue to live in this massive bubble, the crude jokes punctuate the poignant social commentary, advancing Silicon Valley ahead other cubicle life comedies.

Watch Silicon Valley Sunday Nights at 10pm PST right after Game of Thrones. Or if you are like me, stream it on HBO GO at 7pm PST because it premieres 3 hours earlier on the east coast, duh.

8 comments
KarenChan
KarenChan

That generic brand video is hilarious!

cultured
cultured

@rim3hc  +1 to this. Big fan of his stand up work, and great to see him shine on the series too.

cultured
cultured

My one complaint -- which is getting less the case over time -- is that SV has what I like to call "the Ted Mosby problem". It's a great, funny, smartly-written show, but for some reason its main character is the least interesting part. In fact, the main character I actively dislike most of the time (similar to How I Met Your Mother). The more time they spend with Erlich, their weirdo landlord/partner, or having fun with the two weirdo coders and their nerd rivalry, the better the show gets.

antgoo
antgoo

@cultured  I am Ted Mosby. Since you brought up HIMYM, that's part of the reason that I kept watching that show, because I related so well to the Ted character... weird (or not so) that you had such a negative reaction. Hmm... hmm.

cashiusclay
cashiusclay moderator

@cultured  I actually think he was pretty compelling in the beginning but just getting overshadowed by the growth of the other characters. But I see your point, he was definitely absent in the last episode.