TV Review: Silicon Valley

What’s up Internet? Sorry about no post yesterday, now that I’m technically unemployed I’ve been picking up moving work with a friend and it’s kept me pretty busy. But during the blissful moments I haven’t been hauling heavy furniture up and down flights of stairs I’ve been watching Silicon Valley, an HBO exclusive show by Mike Judge, John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky. You may know some of their works such as King of the Hill or Beavis and Butthead, and as you would expect they bring a lot of that humor into Silicon Valley.

Partially inspired by co-creator Mike Judge’s experiences as a Silicon Valley engineer in the 1980s, this comedy series follows the misadventures of introverted computer programmer Richard and his brainy friends as they attempt to strike it rich in a high-tech gold rush. They live together in a Bay Area startup incubator loosely run by self-satisfied dot-com millionaire Erlich, who lets them stay in his house rent-free in exchange for a stake in the projects they invent there. But when Richard develops a powerful search algorithm at his day job, he finds himself caught in the middle of a bidding war between his boss — whose firm offers Richard an eight-figure buyout — and a deep-pocketed venture capitalist.

Now to be honest I jumped in a few episodes into season one a few nights back while my roommate was watching, nor have I seen all of season three yet. However I felt this show deserves a review for some of the things it’s clearly doing so very right and a few of the things it’s doing so very wrong.

Now one thing I love about the show is its cheeky and clever writing and acting. It doesn’t take any convincing to believe that the main cast is an actual group of programmers, hardware configures, coders, etc etc. While this isn’t true for all characters in the show, the main cast have their roles air tight. Richard, CEO of Pied Piper and series lead, comes off to me much like a Mark Zuckerberg impersonator (in a good/honest way). His group of friends all play conflicting roles with a chemistry I would describe as loosely organized chaos. The show does feature quite a few “out there” characters, such as Erlich, played by T.J. Miller, whom I found incredibly annoying in the first few episodes, but quickly grew on me. Although I anticipated these types of characters to be the show’s weak-point, most of them either found a rhythm in the show or didn’t receive enough screen time for it to be an issue.

Now what I would easily consider to be the show’s main weakness is that in many ways it’s incredibly similar to Amazon’s show Betas. In fact, it’s easily to list the shows’ differences than similarities — the main one being that Betas was not renewed for a second season. However both shows feature a main CEO who struggles to get his company to take off. Both shows feature a similar cast setup as well as storylines for individual similar characters such as the minority characters having trouble with women, or the disheveled womanizer. Both shows even have an episode where at least one character takes high doses of hallucinogens to generate ideas for their companies.

It always drags me out of a show when it just feels like a rip-off of another show. Especially one I’m really fond of like Betas. However, even with all their similarities, I still found Silicon Valley to be an enticing show and will probably catch up sometime this week. It’s comedy is right up my alley, and amazingly the show has also contributed to the tech world itself by introducing the concept of the Weissman score and explaining the middle-out algorithms which are now actually being developed in the real world. Leave it to Mike Judge, John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky to come up with such amazing concepts.

I give Silicon Valley

4/5 Pied Pipers



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