Creator of the infamous Beavis & Butt-head series (he wouldn’t even let his kids watch it) as well as the cult film Office Space, Mike Judge has returned with Silicon Valley – an eight episode, character-driven series (renewed for a second season *hooray*) that uses humour and satire in order to explore the world of software development. Unlike The Big Bang Theory, Silicon Valley doesn’t pander to the masses, in that it does not single out popular aspects of ‘geek culture’ in order to exploit it for monetary gain or ratings (this is not to say that I don’t enjoy TBBT, quite the opposite in fact). Put simply, Silicon Valley uses the more realistic ‘business model’ and premise of a bunch of socially awkward, geeky guys trying to make it big. Obviously some liberties are taken (it is after-all, satire), but the series does offer some insight into the technology world, even though certain industry pundits have lambasted the series as being a negative representation of developers and the industry itself.
So while an article on a television series may seem a little unorthodox for a technology blog, I feel that as computer & video-games are very much part of the technology world, it’s logical for television to be a viable medium to represent technology, and Silicon Valley is part of that representation. The image above is indicative of ‘making it big’ – “Where everyone wants to be an icon” such as the one (Steve Jobs) the protagonists are attempting to portray in this promotional poster. T.J. Miller’s character (Erlich), dons the Steve Jobs persona (to great comedic effect for the most part), and even though he’s one of those love-to-hate, irritating characters in the beginning – forgoing his share of ten million dollars (for the bigger picture) and bitch-slapping a 10-year-old (who does that anymore?) in episode 6, reaffirms his position as a valuable member of the team. For all his stupidity, Erlich plays a fundamental role in the group’s start-up company Pied Piper, as a type of enforcer as well the public voice – owing his lack of social awkwardness to his unending and seemingly misplaced confidence.
Thomas Middleditch portrays Richard Hendriks – founder of Pied Piper as well as the compression algorithm that earned them their initial funding from billionaire Peter Gregory – portrayed by Christopher Even Welch who unfortunately passed away from lung cancer in December of last year. Richard is the group’s anchor, even though he is painfully shy and awkward, this deficit is outweighed only by his brilliance. Another character worth mentioning is Martin Starr’s ‘Bertram Gilfoyle’ – programmer and Satanist (you read that correctly) who has perhaps some of the best lines in the show (check out the interview clip below).
The combination of offbeat characters and sublime writing ensures that the show never dilutes into mediocre drivel (the fate of many a series), and I think that due to its relatively short eight episode format (at least for this first season at any rate) that it enables the show to maintain its humour and entertainment value to the point where audiences crave more. Overall, a highly recommended gem of a series, populated with black humour and plenty of ‘geek moments’ more accurate than some would care to admit. I look forward to seeing how Mike Judge will expand upon the show’s mythos.