I stumbled onto Silicon Valley last year in Season One after Game of Thrones and immediately loved this. It is the hilarious story of a tech start-up (Pied Piper) and the struggles and strains the founders go through. It’s not the kind of comedy with a lot of sit-com moments. The humor in Silicon Valley is a little more subtle. There’s a lot in his series to enjoy yet I rarely see press about the show. That’s a shame.
The show comes from Mike Judge who brought us Office Space and Bevis and Butthead. If you even remotely enjoyed Office Space, Silicon Valley is going to be perfect for you.
The parallels to real companies is fantastic – Hooli is Google (or maybe Apple, honestly it doesn’t matter) in the show as an example. You get a sense that Silicon Valley is a nation on its own, and culturally it is. The personalities in the tech industry that are portrayed are sometimes wild…yet oddly realistic. Silicon Valley strips back the illusion that tech giants try to project about themselves. What is revealed is petty, backstabbing, almost childish behavior with millions of dollars on the line.
This is about a group of guys that create a new company with an earth-shattering compression algorithm that is potentially worth billions. Companies try to buy them up, offering millions in investment, but somehow the group stays true to itself. They get sued, accused of stealing their technology by Hooli just because Hooli’s owner wants to crush them. The guys survive, but every step they make towards prosperity means they have to give up a little more and deal with a never-ending series of hurdles. The show is about underdogs trying to carve out a bit of the American Dream. We root for them, despite their sometimes strange if not stupid behavior. As a viewer, you want them to succeed because they are pursuing what we all wished we did – our dreams. Theirs just happens to be code.
The main characters draw you in. They are not out to crush people to get their company up and running. Richard (the main character) just wants to build neat stuff. Gilfoyle, the systems architect, is one of my favorites. If you’ve ever worked in IT, you know more than one Gilfoyle. He’s self-assured to the point of arrogance, yet laid back, devious with a twisted sense of humor.
Erlich, the more senior person on the show is a part-time stoner running a technology incubator in his house. He sees himself as a visionary but in reality his ego far exceeds his talent. His dialogue is awkward and hilarious. Jared, the geeky business support to the team, is an idealistic dreamer with vision who lacks the social skills to fit in anywhere. Big Head, the dorky friend of Richard’s, finds himself constantly promoted at Hooli for no reason at all – pushed way beyond his level of competence.
For those of us that embrace our nerd lifestyles, the show has delivered us some incredible moments. In season one, at TechCrunch (a competition for tech startups) the guys start crunching the math on what it would take to jerk off everyone in the main auditorium. They fill white boards up with the calculations and process. While this may sound gross or immature at first, if you have ever worked in technology, these kinds of pointless mental endeavors happen all of the time. When I watched this episode I realized that it hit the mark. My wife kept asking, “are they serious?” and I responded, “You have no idea how close this is to reality.”
Go out and watch Silicon Valley. Binge it! There’s 20 episodes out on HBO. Watch them – enjoy them. I do – it is one of my favorite shows. #SiliconValley