May 25, 2014

Silicon Valley (Season 1)

Mike Judge, 2014
The pairing of HBO and the mind of Mike Judge kind of feels long overdue. One of greatest comedy writers of this generation, Judge is one who finds the funny in our modern human masses. In Office Space he explored the soul-drenching robotic routine of the corporate Cubicle universe. In Idiocracy he brilliantly laid out America's doomed future. Silicon Valley is semi-autobiographical, from Judge's own days of working in Santa Clara at startup video card company Parallax graphics. His short time there obviously equipped him with some lasting impressions, results that would come out twenty-seven years later in the form of a brilliant comedy. Silicon Valley feels like an Office Space meets The Social Network satirical piece. With clear nods to the Steve Jobs Apple-cult/culture and the bitter battles between the hungry tech giants, the series blends witty writing with a compelling David vs. Goliath story-line. It possesses all of the proper Palo Alto vernacular, all-while living out the Raman noodle to Liquid Shrimp geek dream. One morning you can be looking at empty Red Bull cans sitting in front of you in your tiny apartment. But you can quickly cash in on a sudden fluky but profitable concept and be sitting in an over-sized mansion the next with Kid Rock providing background sound for your beer-pong games.

The writing is so sharp, but the series also deserves praise for it's fitting casting decisions. Thomas Middleditch brings the right amount of awkward twitchiness to his Richard character. The reluctant leader of startup Pied Piper, he excels in programming but falls very short in the social skills. Richard is someone who could have easily been buried in the I.T. department of the aforementioned Judge classic Office Space. His compression algorithm app is also developed by ball-busting buddies Gilfoyle and Dinesh, once again making great casting decisions by having Martin Starr and Kumail Nanjiani playing the respective roles. The series also employs the comedic abilities of T.J. Miller, who plays a sort of creepy older brother to the group. Not really equipped with the same coding abilities but much better in social settings, he has more of a hanger-on role with Pied Piper but never falls short of being hilarious... strange beard and all. Fortunately it didn't take long for HBO to renew Silicon Valley to renew the series for another season. Every week it leaves you wanting more. In a way it feels surreal that we are already lampooning our own high-tech world. But there is no better person to do it than Mike Judge.

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