First Impressions of HBO’s Silicon Valley

HBO debuted their new half hour comedy, Silicon Valley, last weekend. Matt Vallee and Nick Sweeney offer their insights and thoughts on the show and predict where it will go.

Nick:  I was on a pretty good television high after watching the Game of Thrones season premiere and was already at my computer trying to figure out where the next episode would go when Silicon Valley began. I had seen promos for it over the last few months (mostly between episodes of True Detective) and kept it in the back of the mind. Frankly, that’s not a part of society I know or care about. Boy geniuses in garages creating new apps for iPhones and wearing hoodies. Great, I thought, a funnier version of The Social Network. Not exactly high praise going in.

And then I watched it.

I was pleasantly surprised by the opening episode. The cast seemed good and it created a few laughs along the way. It went head first into the culture of what I assumed Silicon Valley is and allowed the growth of a interesting plot. Does the shy invert Richard Hendrix (Thomas Middleditch) keep his company for himself with the idea of being in control or does he sell his idea away? After a few weeks of Facebook taking this and Google taking that, I’m interested in where the plot could go and what kind of journey it will take him on. It succeeded where a pilot episode should succeed: it planted characters, plot, and setting and allowed itself to be continued. And then it was over and the next HBO show, Veep, went on.

Silicon Valley / HBO

Silicon Valley / HBO

The really intriguing part for me, however, was the wave of criticism the show received shortly after it aired. Nothing controversial, mind you; just the normal “you can’t talk about our culture without being part of it and you know nothing” controversial stuff. And I loved every bit of it. Just the other day Elon Musk had strong words about the show. Apparently, people don’t get it. Musk is the one who doesn’t get it, of course. This show doesn’t strive for authenticity, it’s about the underlying point of it all. It’s about poking fun at a culture that is expanding into everyday conversation in very scary and real ways. It’s about the next wave of innovation. This isn’t the tech industry version of Girls (which tries to portray what being a writer is really like). This is Office Space meets the year 2014. Aside from that, this is a show we should be watching and discussing. The best comedy tends to be that of reflecting from real life and I’m interested in how real it may get for us as the audience.

My prediction will be that this will be the light side of the accidental billionaire storyline that we all saw in The Social Network. It will be funny but in that painfully true way that shows what power and money can do to young creative minds. For now, I’m investing in it. At the very least, I’ll need something to make me laugh after whatever dreadful things happen to the cast of Game of Thrones.

Matt:

I walked into Silicon Valley the same way Nick did.  I watched Game of Thrones, after hammering away at HBO GO for about 45 minutes, and couldn’t stop thinking about where the different story arcs would go.  Then, I was reminded of Silicon Valley, a show who’s culture is also my culture.  I don’t watch that much TV, but I’m a programmer at a start-up company myself, so I figured this show would be perfect for me and I gave it a shot.  So far, it definitely is.

NERD ALERT — if someone were to invent what Richard Hendrix has invented, it would be HUGE.  A truly lossless compression algorithm would blow up our current estimations of storage space and bandwidth.  Much of the computing time and power spent on searching could be used elsewhere.  Streaming services like Netflix and Hulu would see huge boosts.  END NERD ALERT.

We got to see different sides of much of the tech industry.  You have Hooli, a.k.a. Fake Google, with mobile meetings on team bicycles, rejuvenation pods, and a cereal bar, but you also have Erlich Bachman’s (T.J. Miller, pictured above with a unique beard style) “incubator”, which is a very nice way of saying “a bunch of dudes living in a house.”  Gavin Benson (Matt Ross), the head of Hooli, is revered by all and only honor a select few with his presence, while Peter Gregory (Christopher Evan Welch) gives TED talks to the masses.

The bustling world of technology can seem like a black box, but whether you imagine it with futuristic gadgets and modern furniture or a group of friends sitting around a table with bags of chips and Mountain Dew, it’s represented here.  Richard’s almost painful level of shyness and timidity may be a turn off for some, but hopefully the injection of cash and confidence can help him open up a bit.  I’ll be coming back to Silicon Valley.

Silicon Valley / HBO / Huffington Post

Silicon Valley / HBO / Huffington Post