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Nevermind What You Hear to the Contrary, Mike Judge Gets Tech People Right in 'Silicon Valley'

By Brock Wilbur | TV Reviews | April 8, 2014 | Comments ()


silicon.valley.hbo_.jpg

Last Thursday, my grandmother called to ask if I had considered taking a “basic computer job” because, she’d heard, that’s where all the money is. She also, in panicked breath, told me of her fears that the mafia would murder me.

God I love Grandma.

What I love more is the pilot for Silicon Valley. The show focuses on a house full of programmers who are trying to push an accidentally genius product. The Mike Judge show features a group of twenty-somethings that inadvertently are contributing towards the construction of his Idiocracy future.

Silicon Valley had been on my radar, since last year I wrote a film called Your Friends Close about the people that make video games and how they reveal their awful nature when they party. This last week has involved a dispute with Tesla Motors’ Elon Musk about whether this show understood how tech people party. His claim was that Mike Judge had never spent time in “Burning Man,” aka the true Silicon Valley, and therefore did not understand the difference between a tech party and an LA party. As someone who has dedicated an entire film (and eight years of my life) to the idea, the TV show gets it right.

What works best for the show is not the ideas about the tech industry itself, but rather what it exports the world. The Jobs-ian leader of this fictional company presents TED talks on the subject of avoiding college at all costs, offering scholarships to those who avoid traditional education to support his products, representing a nu-marketing tool geared towards making programmers rich before their time. Silicon Valley aims to make narrative from the impossible rat-race of consistent one-upmanship, by betting on its characters instead of the cash-out option inherent in every good idea.

Amidst the dubstep background tracks and jokes about unknown torrent sites exists a character piece that gives power to a small collection of the funniest comedian/actors working today, including T.J. Miller, Kumail Nanjiani, and someone called “Big Head,” presumably in reference to the overlord on 3rd Rock From The Sun.

What will keep me tuning back in to Silicon Valley is not the idea that “we can be the Vikings of our day” but rather to take the cue at which point we should all sell out. The belief in these characters is also the belief in contributing to bailing at the point this rocket hits its apex point. This is no Game of Thrones, in which death in answer, but rather an honest evaluation of a collection of terrible ideas, at which a limit is hit which frees us all in the name of a number.

At the very least, we’ll always have a party scene where Kid Rock is the poorest person at the party. And God bless Mike Judge for being his most Mike Judge from the outset.

Brock Wilbur is a stand-up comedian, writer, director, and actor. You can check out his website for a listing of all his work, check YouTube for stand-up acts, or follow him on Twitter.




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Comments Are Welcome, Jerks Will Be Banned


  • Guest

    I had trouble watching this whole show because it is SO CLOSE to the company I actually work at (a Silicon valley start up that is now quite large), at least in the "culture components". I was cringing along with the "bro-grammers", the overly expensive parties with socially awkward people, and the mantra that we are CHANGING THE WORLD. The venture capitalist character, Peter Gregory, is totally a real person who's been involved in tons of SV companies like PayPal and Facebook -- Peter Thiel. He's offered fellowships to get people to drop out of college and floated the idea of developing a libertarian island off the coast of California.

  • lowercase_ryan

    I have an insanely unabashed affection for Kumail Nanjiani. He's just wonderful. This show has tons of heart and it's funny as shit. Can't wait for more.

  • I tried to watch Franklin and Bash for him! I only made it 1.5 episodes, though.

  • lowercase_ryan

    your bro-tolerance is greater than mine. Although tbh I didn't know he was on the show and now I can feel it tugging on my sleeve like so much gravity.

  • Don't do it! Just stick to Portlandia and Silicon Valley. Your brain will thank you for it.

  • lowercase_ryan

    Or you. My brain thanks you.

  • invisiblewoman

    Having worked at 2 startups....yeah, extremely accurate depiction. But way funnier.

  • Miss Jane

    I have the BEST Grandma/Silicon Valley (sort of) story...

    In the late 90's, when visiting her at the "home" we were watching the news together and she turns to me and says "who is that woman named 'Dot Com' and why is she in the news all the time?"

    I nearly peed my pants...

  • Muhnah_Muhnah

    I'm an engineer who works in IT in the R&D department of a large company. It's basically nerd-land. I've had Big Bang Theory shoved down my throat and this looks like something else my friends will insist that I watch. I will then want to kill everyone. Again. I just can't take it anymore. Can't we just keep making cop and lawyer shows? Please?

  • Masterdingo

    Little bit of a difference with this one. Mike Judge was actually a programmer on F-18 weapons systems back in the day. He's not just a writer with no inside knowledge.

  • Bert_McGurt

    While I can't postulate on the long-term or comment on the representation of IT professionals, I can say that this show is certainly better than the Big Bang Theory. Faint praise, I know.

    ETA: That's not to imply this pilot was bad or anything! I watched it, I laughed. I'll check it out next week.

  • BWeaves

    I am with you on this. I've been a computer programmer for over 30 years, and now do advanced tech support for a major computer company. My job is nothing like this show. Nothing.

    I can't stand the Big Bang Theory. I tried. Don't like it.

    When is Sherlock coming back?

  • Muhnah_Muhnah

    It's just that in reality we're too normal. Pretty much like marketing or HR professionals. So I just have no idea who these people are! It's like people telling me I'm not black enough because I don't speak like a rapper or because I like indie bands. I just have no patience for it.

  • John G.

    ssssshhhh....you're a beautiful, unique snowflake, and no show can capture your shining uniqueness....ssshhh...we know, you're so special.

  • Muhnah_Muhnah

    I'm so glad you understand! Maybe you should make a show that highlights my specialness!

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