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Wednesday, August 04, 2021

TV Rewind | Silicon Valley: Making the world a better place

Silicon Valley was a parody of the real-life Silicon Valley where everyone is out to make the world a better place, while making billions of dollars.

Written by Sampada Sharma | New Delhi |
Updated: December 27, 2020 9:47:52 am
tv rewind silicon valleySilicon Valley has to be the sharpest comedy series that we have seen in recent years.

We live in a world where tech companies have been claiming for decades that they are “making the world a better place,” but after learning about the dangers of AI and the increased privacy and security breaches, we know this phrase is a ruse. HBO’s Silicon Valley realised the hollowness of this phrase way before the bubble burst, and hence, we got one of the sharpest comedies that we have seen in recent years, all thanks to its accurate parallels with real-life. Silicon Valley is a parody of the actual Silicon Valley that has been the hub of technological innovation.

Starring Thomas Middleditch, TJ Miller, Josh Brener, Martin Starr, Kumail Nanjiani, Amanda Crew and Zach Woods among others, HBO’s Silicon Valley, created by Mike Judge, John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky, lasted for six seasons.

What is Silicon Valley all about?

Silicon Valley starts with a programmer named Richard Hendricks (Middleditch) who has created an algorithm for data compression that has the ability to truly change the world. As soon as his idea reaches the ears of some big sharks, a bidding war ensues that pushes Richard to build his own company.

Silicon Valley, through its six seasons, follows Richard, Jared (Woods), Monica (Crew), Dinesh (Nanjiani), Gilfoyle (Starr) and Erlich (Miller) as they try to build their company, Pied Piper, while fighting industry giants like Gavin Belson (Matt Ross). Through all of this, Richard believes that his company will “make the world a better place”.

The men and (one) woman of Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley charts Richard’s rise from being a do-gooder to an egomaniac who doesn’t mind comparing himself to Abraham Lincoln because it suits his purpose. Through Season 4, we see an ugly side of Richard where he has significantly compromised his morals. But Silicon Valley reels him back in as the show’s agenda isn’t to give us another Zuckerberg but to show what an anti-Zuckerberg would have done with his power.

silicon valley From being a shy coder, Richard comes into his own and turns into a fierce guy by the end of Silicon Valley. (Photo: HBO)

The love-hate relationship between Dinesh and Gilfoyle is the cutest thing about Silicon Valley. Their contrasting personalities amid their co-dependent relationship gives way to some of the best gags in the series. Erlich Bachman’s over-the-top personality has the best laugh-out-loud jokes of the entire series, and after TJ Miller’s exit, this energy was missed. Gavin Belson’s tone-deaf actions that have him making the world energy efficient while his private jet takes round trips from Shanghai to San Francisco just to prove a point makes him one of the most absurd tragi-comedic figures to have ever existed on a show.

But the character who wins here is certainly Jared whose docile front is adorable. But the streaks of his life from the streets make Jared the smartest guy in the room, even though he is not as technologically equipped. The episode that pulls you into Team Jared is the one where he meets his birth parents and even though it was quite uncharacteristic of Silicon Valley to go so emotional, it had us sobbing for him.

silicon valley Amanda Crew plays Monica Hall in HBO’s Silicon Valley. (Photo: HBO)

Silicon Valley is infamous for not having enough women on the team. With Monica, the show tries to have some kind of balance but the scales just don’t match. After Laurie comes in, the show does better in this department, and it helps that her character is a laugh riot.

The best bits of Silicon Valley

Silicon Valley is a comedy that gets most of its material from real-life tech billionaires who compare being rich in the Valley to being a Jew in Nazi Germany (Yup, that really happened), and when such outlandish events are played out in a show, they make for some excellent content. Through its six-season run, Silicon Valley knew that its central protagonists were never going to have a win with no strings attached and it was those strings that kept getting tighter and tighter as Pied Piper faced new challenges every year.

The finale of Season 1 awards an unusual win to the central protagonist’s thanks to some really elaborate phallic jokes, but it is one of those rare events in the show when everything just works out in the end. Moving on from that, the show acknowledges that the big boys of the tech industry, who live with phantom money that can disappear with crashing stock prices, don’t really care about changing the world but are all too concerned about the optics.

The show often has Pied Piper heading towards a win until something goes terribly wrong and they just can’t clinch it, mainly because of Richard. The morality of its characters doesn’t fall in line with the tech world, so they keep getting one loss after another, even when you are heartbroken for them.

In its initial seasons, Silicon Valley was non-apologetic about pulling punches on the tech industry, but as the show moved on and the real world moved into a dark era where Facebook and Twitter became the villains of the society, the show’s light humour turned a much-needed corner where the White Knights could never just have it all.

The finale of Silicon Valley

As Silicon Valley was inching towards its conclusion, we knew that Pied Piper would have its final roadblock. The finale of Silicon Valley was set ten years later and presented in a documentary-like fashion. The storyline here had Richard realising that they had created a software that would bypass all kinds of encryption and this would end humanity as we knew it. So, in a way, they were trying to save the world from the monster they had accidentally created. Their plan to fail publicly was well-devised and had them bow out like the good guys they were.

The rats here brought Pied Piper’s journey full-circle but the only one missed here was TJ Miller.

Binge-worthy?

While it is easy to binge-watch Silicon Valley as every episode is roughly 30 minutes and the content is fun to watch, it would be better to watch it at a slow pace as that just makes you appreciate the humour more.

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Silicon Valley is streaming on Disney Plus Hotstar.

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