You can't watch everything on television, and no one in their right mind expects you to. But you also can't just sit back and let cool things fly under your radar, because you have a cool status that requires you to be up-to-date on all the things the kids like these days. That's where we come in: to help you determine whether a show is cool enough for you. Today we're looking at HBO's new comedy Silicon Valley, which debuts this weekend. I've seen the first episode, and I'm hear to tell you if it's worthy of your time, Mr./Mrs. Cool Person, in another edition Is This Show Cool Enough For Me?
Silicon Valley, so this is a show about breast implants?
That's Silicone Valley, you baboon! Silicon Valley is a sitcom set in the world of high-tech startups and cash grabs to build the next Google or Birds With Arms (but mostly the first one). It centers on a group of young programmers who start a potentially HUGE business when one of them, a sheepish dude named Richard, accidentally stumbles upon a game-changing compression algorithm that could be worth billions. The series satirizes the industry by setting it in a hyper-real world of hoodie-wearing millionaires and turtleneck-wearing billionaires, highlighting the ridiculous amount of money that's being thrown around.
Whose show is this, and who's in it?
This is Mike Judge's grand return to television after 2009's not-that-good The Goode Family, and he serves as creator and showrunner on Silicon Valley. Judge is bit of a legend, of course, with Office Space, Beavis and Butt-head, and King of the Hill under his belt, and Silicon Valley was inspired in part by Judge's experience working in Northern California in the '80s. And the people in front of the camera are just as much of a draw: Canadian actor Thomas Middleditch (several failed pilots, including Office spin-off The Farm), T.J. Miller (The Goodwin Games), Zach Woods (The Office), Kumail Nanjiani (Franklin & Bash but many other better things, including lots of great Portlandia sketches), and Martin Starr (Freaks and Geeks, Party Down) play the nerds trying to start the business. And if you have your head up the tech industry's butt, you might notice some familiar exec-types dropping by for cameos.
When does Silicon Valley boot up on our TV sets?
Silicon Valley premieres on Sunday, April 6 (you know, National Game of Thrones Day) at 10pm on HBO. It will precede Veep to create one of HBO's most solid comedy blocks.
Who's going to like Silicon Valley?
Not gonna lie, if you're connected to the tech industry in any way, it helps. And because the tech industry employs like 200 percent of the work force, that's most of us, right? But anyone who understands that Silicon Valley is totally off its rocker will also appreciate the series' on-the-nose satire. Fans of Judge's previous work will also notice his trademark humor and eye for detail all over the place.
What's good about Silicon Valley?
It's about damn time someone took a sledgehammer to the tech industry and did it the correct way, and Silicon Valley nails it by exposing the dotbiz for its extraneous spending, evangelical-guru nonsense, and flash-in-the-pan rises to riches. It's also a spiritual successor to Office Space in the way it dismantles the corporate lifestyle, even though no copiers were harmed in the filming of the pilot. The show is brimming with great performances, starting with Middleditch, who accurately wears the face of a guy on the verge of both stardom and a nervous breakdown, neither of which he's particularly eager to experience. But the highlights of Silicon Valley are its sendups of its subject matter, which include fake TED talks and a Kid Rock concert held before an audience of a dozen bored, recently-acquired-by-Google startup employees.
What should be upgraded about Silicon Valley?
There are a few dud jokes here and there, but that's the case with every comedy. And some of the jokes are specifically written for those who are close to the startup world, so they might not land for everyone. But I'm reaching to say something negative about the show, which isn't easy. Oh, wait: There's no strong female presence. Seriously, I don't think there's one female character who's more than a minor player, though I suppose that could be a reflection of the industry itself.
So, should I watch it?
Yes! I loved it, and it's one of the best new comedies to premiere in some time. Silicon Valley could become a fixture on HBO.
Let's take a look at a trailer!
You got it:
Silicon Valley premieres Sunday, April 6 at 10pm on HBO.
AIRED ON 6/1/2014
Season 1 : Episode 8