A Silicon Valley Community
Sunday 10:00 PM on HBO

Silicon Valley S01E01: "Minimum Viable Product"


Having lived through two tech bubbles in the San Francisco Bay Area, I've seen all the good the industry can do. But it's difficult to focus on the good when it's accompanied by a huge mountain of the crap that tech bubbles tend to create—an influx of entitled assholes, skyrocketing rent prices, biz-speak dropped into regular conversations, and all kinds of other unfortunate byproducts. It seems Silicon Valley creator Mike Judge shares my opinion, because his new HBO series treats the tech industry like it's his bitch and the result is one very funny show. And by pairing Silicon Valley with Veep, HBO may finally have a successful hour-long comedy block, something that's eluded the network for some time now. (Entourage does not count, Entourage never counts.)

What makes Silicon Valley so successful is the same formula that earned Judge's Office Space a spot on the "required viewing while smoking pot" list in college dorm rooms in the late '90s and beyond. It's the story of a group of little guys kicking shit in a world of big guys, Dave versus Goliath Corp., creative underdogs fighting against the only people who can finance their dream. And it tickles the tried-and-true theme that's been prevalent since the days of the Bard: to sell out, or not to sell out?


The guys we're rooting for are led by Richard (Thomas Middleditch), who could pass for a human version of a cold Chihuahua with all the nervous tics he has. Then's there's the crude Erlich, who runs a programming farm at his house, which he's aptly nicknamed "The Incubator" because he treats his recruits like livestock. Rounding out the team are Big Head (Josh Brener), whose head isn't that big as far as I can tell; Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani), the token Southeast Asian representative; and Gilfoyle (Martin Starr), a man who's as weird as his name. Right from the boot-up, these guys feel like friends who've known each other forever and spent countless hours hunched over laptops and eating Indian takeout in close quarters. Silicon Valley doesn't make any obvious effort to explain their various relationships with one another, which I appreciate; they just feel natural and established thanks to the guys' instant chemistry (Dinesh and Gilfoyle are particularly chummy) and the lavish insanity of the world around them. 

As "Minimum Viable Product" began, the group attended a party thrown by a company that was celebrating a $200 million buyout from Google, and the stink of nouveau riche emanated from the TV screen to immediately lay out an "us versus them" scenario, and it was incredibly effective because Richard and his pals are now the good guys by default. Judge likes to make normal folks seem better than they are by surrounding them with awful people, and Silicon Valley's opening scene was brilliantly packed with truly terrible oxygen-wasters. Arguably the funniest line in the entire episode came from the nameless 20-something chief executive douche of the company that'd just been purchased, when he topped off his self-congratulating speech with, "But most importantly, we're making the world a better place through constructing [blah blah blah tech speak] Here's to many more nights just like this one. Take it away, my good friend Kid Rock!" It was a cautionary tale of what could happen to our heroes, yet at the same time, it was kind of exactly what they want to happen. To sell out, or not to sell out? That is the question.


Richard's chance to answer that question arrived when his incredibly lame Pied Piper app, which is ostensibly used by songwriters to scan the cloud for evidence that they're violating copyrights, caught the eye of a few engineers because of its badass compression algorithm. That started a bidding war for Richard's code between Gavin Belson, Richard's boss at the Google-y Hooli, and Peter Gregory, a bizarre venture capitalist who encourages kids to drop out of college. The situation transformed Silicon Valley from amusing send-up of the audacious tech industry to a fascinating look at the personal stakes of those in the business. Belson wanted to buy Richard out, but Gregory wanted to seed Richard and help him develop a potentially billion-dollar company. I don't often shout at characters on my television screen, but I'll be damned if wasn't screaming for Richard to choose Gregory despite the fact that television logic dictates that's where he was bound to end up. My yelling is a testament to the scene that took place just outside of Gavin's office, and to Thomas Middleditch's ability to telegraph the spinning conundrum in his character's brain. That scene was amazing. 

And so Silicon Valley's first episode ended with the guys doing what they normally do, playing stupid games, toking the reefer, drinking beers, and tapping away on their laptops. But now, the dreams (and nightmares) they've worked so hard for are right in front of them. With so much potential, an outstanding cast, and a sobering message, Silicon Valley looks poised to be one of the best new comedies of the year.



EXTRA LINES OF CODE


– That was Andy Daly of Comedy Central's Review as the doctor treating Richard's panic attack in the episode's funniest scene. He's having as good a year as Matthew McConaughey! 

– Do Google buses really play looped videos of their CEO blabbing on and on about how great the company is? 

– Holy crap those fake TED talks are amazing. I could watch them for hours.

– The sycophantic VPs of Hooli are frickin' scary. Is this a Fortune 500 company or a cult? "And then Gavin said, 'I'm not humiliating you, I'm elevating you.'" HA! 

– Erlich: "Everyone involved in the music industry is either stealing it or sharing it, they're all a bunch of assholes, especially Radiohead." Richard: [Shakes his head in disagreement.] Erlich, restating his point: "Yeah, they're assholes."

– The series premiere is now available to watch for free on YouTube—I recommend checking it out if you haven't already:


What'd you think of Silicon Valley's series premiere? Will you be back for Episode 2? 


Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 6/26/2016

Season 3 : Episode 10

56 Comments
Comments (56)
Submit
Sort: Latest | Popular
It was kinda boring and it wasn't that interesting.

And aren't those two 'a-hole' programmers the actual "heroes" of this series? Without them, the protagonist wouldn't even know what he had.

I can understand everything going on in Veep but this series' "techo-babble" actually seems written for those who can understand it.

And probably the most poignant part of this episode is the party where the women still don't want to even talk to these geeks even though they are newly minted multi-millionaires. The protagonist now knows he's a potential future multi-billionaire and yet it seems he has around zero confidence in his ability to get dates.
Reply
Flag
one episode in and i'm already hooked. A must watch show!
1
Reply
Flag
What a fantastic new show. I can't wait for more.
1
Reply
Flag
Meh, it was OK. I was expecting it to be like Office Space. :(
1
Reply
Flag
It does kind of suck this show is basically competing with Betas directly, I think this show has a lot more promise. Mike Judge is quite the guy and I think he has a potential hit with this show.
Reply
Flag
Now that I have flagged all the spam I am ready to say that I am intrigued I will try to watch it next time...
3
Reply
Flag
I had a lot of good laughs from this. Not enough to soothe the crushing blow of losing Hello Ladies, but its a good start. I absolutely love TJ Miller, and thought he was hilarious as always, but I was terribly disappointed Kumail Nanjiani didn't have more lines as he is especially hilarious as well. Still, plenty of room for that down the line and I eagerly wait to see what more this show has to offer!
3
Reply
Flag
I thought this was very funny for a pilot episode. Coming from the Bay Area, I really enjoyed all the little jabs at the tech industry (the bike conferences and open floor offices of Hooli are clearly meant to resemble Google's office/campus). The humor really was spot on (the doctor's office, how programmers seem to walk in groups of five). I'm excited to see where this goes, and I'm definitely going to keep watching.
Reply
Flag
Pretty entertaining. I didn't feel quite the connection to the characters that you did. Honestly, for a show that seemed hyped up as THE comedy to watch out for this year, it didn't quite overwhelm me like I was hoping. That said, there's definitely a lot of promise here (and I guess most critics got the first 3-5 episodes to watch anyway), so I'm looking forward to see where it goes.
2
Reply
Flag
That's always the challenge with hyped shows. You get your expectations too high and you end up being underwhelmed.
Reply
Flag
i thought it was great and already recommended it to a few people. However.... As much as I love it, it has cancellation written all over it, unless HBO are prepared to let it gather a cult following. Still saddened that 'Hello Ladies' was cancelled.
3
Reply
Flag
Awesome pilot! Great casting and clever writing, I really hope this series takes off.
1
Reply
Flag
I just don't see how there is room for both Betas and this show to coexist. There is way too much overlap in the subject matter, but I have a feeling I'm gonna like Betas better because it takes the whole thing more seriously, and isn't trying to satirize the industry at every turn.

After working in the world of Silicon Valley start-ups for a while, I feel like Betas is a way more accurate portrayal and therefore becomes a better critique than Judge's outdated representation.
Reply
Flag
The pilot was funny and clever. I think I am going to like that show.
Reply
Flag
I thought it was pretty good. I'll watch it again.
Reply
Flag
I really enjoyed the first episode.
I like the characters, the references, the setting, the humor.
This first episode was a little too much similar to Betas but I think they have the potential to make a great show.
Reply
Flag
"Do Google buses really play looped videos of their CEO blabbing on and on about how great the company is? " YES THEY DO! They got screens all over the halls of the office and entry hall got like 3 screens all looping the standard promotion video how awesome they are!
1
Reply
Flag
Just to make my case here is one screenshot showing the hall way: http://goodereader.com/blog/uploads/images/google-hq.jpg
Reply
Flag
Really liked it. Yay, Mike Judge. Great writing all around. Well-paired with Veep -- similar styles of show, one's just set in Silicon Valley, the other in Washington. The cast were well... cast. Great stuff.
Reply
Flag
I turned it off after 15 minutes.
It's similar to "Betas", and they just executed it much better I feel.
Reply
Flag
I thought it was great and I thoroughly enjoyed watching it...and that's what matters...that plus anticipation of what's to come next. So count me in!
Reply
Flag
Seems okay. Gonna watch. But one thing is really bothering me. I know that Sillicon Valley tech world has very little women people but at least they could have them in fictional Sillicon Valley, no? Again only male dude bro nerdy faces.
If they're having token Indian why not have one female token? I guess women people are degraded to tiny roles of sex objects and sexual fantasies of these nerds. Sad. Very sad. Indeed.
3
Reply
Flag
I want one Weird Science remake, Liza learned the boys about girls! ;)
Reply
Flag
can't share your excitement and wishful thinking about that one. Weird Science is stereotypical bullshit. sexy chick plus two boy nerds.
Reply
Flag
that's true but the series was a lot of fun to watch! Stereotypical bulllshit is about 60% of what is on tv right now! :)
1
Reply
Flag
i watched after GoT, since we have an HBO free preview weekend. (SD only, blech)

It was OK, but I will not be finding this online like I do GoT on Monday mornings.
Reply
Flag
So, it's funny as Office Space? Hmm!
Reply
Flag
I enjoyed it. I was worried they were going to dumb down TJ Miller's character, because they always seem to do that, even though he is apparently in Mensa
Reply
Flag
I'm not sure I liked it. Really haven't we seen this before in like anything.

I want to like it and after their @Midnight appearance thought it was going to be great.
1
Reply
Flag
was iffy because it's Mike Judge but I like the cast enough to care so I checked it out, I actually thought it was pretty good and will stick with it.
1
Reply
Flag
So, the indian guy (sorry for being too lazy to look up his name) is not coming back to Franklin & Bash? Or, will he do both?

Reply
Flag
No he is not. This will be his new project and won't be back on F&B's upcoming season...
Reply
Flag
I'm having a hard time imagining F&B without Pindar.
Reply
Flag
And now imagine no Carmen either :/
Not sure how that'll change things...but it sucks...
Reply
Flag
WHAT?? No Carmen? Now I'm REALLY bummed.
Flag
I'd guess he'd be able to do both since neither will be doing full seasons (F&B has only been doing 10 a season, and SV will have 8) and probably film at different times of the year... much like how an actor in the UK can be on multiple series a year for more than just a guest appearance.
1
Reply
Flag
Lots of cleverness in this ep. I've never been anywhere near Silicon Valley, so I'm sure a good number of the insider jokes went (and will go) over my head, but I got enough of them to enjoy it.

Stuff I loved...

* Bike meeting!

* Meditation Pod!

* Cult status (as you mentioned)!

* Observation of programmers in groups of 5!

* Programmers Bullies!

* Incubator!

* And, our hapless protagonist who really hasn't got a clue. He developed an amazing compression algorithm and did not see its real potential. He has near zero people skills, and absolutely zero ability to deal with confrontation. What possible chance does he have in turning his idea into a billion dollar business? This will be very interesting.



4
Reply
Flag
-- "those fake TED talks are amazing"

There was more than one? I did love Gregory's, though. It SO nailed the self-agrandizement that so many of TED speakers exhibit. And, the speaking patterns.
1
Reply
Flag
Mike Judge has rounded up five of the most underutilized faces in comedy and thrown them together into an ensemble. It's about time somebody realized TJ Miller's greatness.
5
Reply
Flag
Watched this for Kumail Nanjiani and Tj Miller. Was not disappointed. The two of them, plus Martin Starr, are all very high on my list of great comedians that needed to be on their own show. Can't wait to see more out of them.
3
Reply
Flag
are there any women within shouting distance of anything that happens here?
3
Reply
Flag
Haha, I guess it's kinda like what Richard says near the beginning of the episode at the party: "It's amazing how the men and women at these things always separate like this."
Reply
Flag
Does Gregory's assistant count?
2
Reply
Flag
the show itself is like an analog of its central plot. i will invest my time in it and hope it grows from good to great, and not to sell out. to think differenent... err.. to just to it... umm... just make it happen.
4
Reply
Flag
Follow this Show
Members
3,229