Last night marked the start of Silicon Valley Season 2. In case you’ve never heard of Silicon Valley, let me inform you that after you’re done reading this, you should stop what you’re doing and go watch it. All of it.
The show follows a group of unlikely heroes as they try to pioneer a tech startup. (Be warned minor first season spoilers ahead). Richard ( Thomas Middleditch) and his band of misfit programmer friends all leave their jobs at a prominent industry leader to start the Company Pied Piper in the show’s first season. The rag tag team of friends is a great dynamic. From Richard’s painfully awkward social skills, to Eurlich’s (T.J. Miller) constant grand plans and crazy schemes, to Jared’s (Zach Woods) creepy CFO vibe, and the constant rivalry between Gilfoil (Martin Starr) and Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani), all the main charcters have a great niche and really help to flesh out the story with little subplots in each episode. After they leave the Google-esq “Hooli,” the show chronicles their misadventures as they try to get funding, and create a viable product to take to investors. The main theme of the first season is that these guys don’t know what they’re doing. They always seem to be behind the eight ball and are always playing catch-up or are trying to put out fires, either relationally or professionally. Don’t let the show’s description turn you off either; while the bulk of the plot revolves around computers and general technology jargon, I think that most people who enjoy witty banter and dialogue will love this show. The writers do a good job of explaining what’s going on for those of us who don’t necessarily understand some of the more complex terms and ideas. And while what they talk about and refer to isn’t always completely accurate or necessarily real, it all has grounding in reality.
This tour de force really highlights show creator Mike Judge’s range. In his career thus far he has traipsed uninhibited from writing and creating a show like Beavis and Butt-Head, to King of the Hill, to Silicon Valley. He really seems to nail the vibe of today’s tech industry while also poking fun at it in a really engaging way. It’s delightful to watch the characters bumble through the politics of Silicon Valley and I tip my hat to the writers who try to bring in as many real companies as possible like Facebook or Yahoo. The catalyst for season two is set when at the end of season one our little band of programmers wins an important competition. Tech Crunch Disrupt. And true to form, the writers actually pulled in a real conference for our favorite fake tech geeks to compete in. Many of the other fake contestants had hilariously bad ideas and used terms that we’ve all heard like cloud, big data, and apps that became laughable just hearing them over and over.
The start of the second season opens just after Tech Crunch Disrupt. It’s an important time for Pied Piper as they try to discern where their first round of financing is going to come from. Here we are left with a chance for Pied Piper’s self proclaimed visionary, Eurlich, to come into his own as he goes from meeting to meeting being an offensive idiot as he meets with powerful investors. We’ve seen this type of behavior from him before and it never disappoints. Without going into too much detail and spoiling anything, I will just say that the first episode starts on a high, and ends with a bit of a shocker. The start to the season was really strong and I eagerly anticipate the rest of the season as we keep track of those crazy boys from Pied Piper.
I’ll admit that I’m a bit of a computer nerd and that I love this show. It’s fun to watch the characters, all of which have various social or behavioral handicaps, interact with the world around them. That’s what I think I love most about this show. It’s not just a bunch of computer related jokes. While those are very prevalent, the show relies more on its characters and their own stories than just being a geeky joke machine. The show also has an overarching narrative that evolved throughout the first season and it looks like the second season will do the same thing. That’s what initially pulled me into the show, not the tech, not the jokes about the tech, but the people and the way they all deal with one another’s shortcomings and faults. It would have been very easy for the show to be nothing but cheesy one-liners and a laugh track, but thankfully, HBO is much better than that and treats the subject matter with a barely contained contempt and tongue-in-cheek reverence.