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'Silicon Valley' Continues to Find Success in Failure ... For Now

By Dustin Rowles | TV | April 23, 2017 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | April 23, 2017 |

To put it in terms that Russ Hanneman (Chris Diamantopoulos, The Office, Marky Bark in Arrested Development) might easily understand: Pied Piper is an awkward but brilliant high-school kid desperate to get laid. He keeps landing dates and fending off other suitors, but when prom night rolls around, he never f*cks. Pied Piper has been named hottest eligible bachelor for three years in a row, it’s rented the hotel room, and it’s rounded base and headed home a number of times, but every year, Pied Piper finds a new way to go home alone with its dick in its hand.

That Pied Piper still remains a virgin is a necessary ingredient to the success of Silicon Valley, because the minute that Pied Piper f*cks, the show’s over. That’s it. Call it a cab and send it home. No one wants to see Pied Piper gloat the next morning, get married, and start a family. Silicon Valley works only as long as Pied Piper remains the underdog with brilliant potential — Laney Boggs before she takes off her glasses — because the humor in the HBO comedy hinges upon failure. Once Pied Piper goes public, the show unravels. The ultimate success is the worst thing that could happen to these characters.

After wearing different shades of powder blue to each of the last three proms, Silicon Valley has decided to try a new tux in its senior year. Dinesh’s video chat looks like it has the potential to take it to the promise land, but it’s not the dream girl Richard wants to take to prom. His heart is not into it. Piper Chat is the Haviland Morris of Silicon Valley and Richard wants to go with Molly Ringwald. So he ditches Haviland with Farmer Ted, determined to use his compression algorithm to turn himself into Jake Ryan, even if it means soliciting the dating advice of Chet Donnelly (RIP Bill Paxton).

It remains to be seen whether Silicon Valley can sustain itself comedically for another season after the rinse and repeat of the last three, but there’s still plenty of lather remaining in the first episode. Erlich provides a heady dose of still funny false bravado, Big Head is reliably clueless, and Jared — he who f*cks — is somehow both the heart and the moral center of the show, but it will be interesting to see how he fares without the North Star to guide him.

That North Star is Richard, who ditches his co-workers to strike out on his own to start a “new internet,” leaving behind Dinesh as the CEO of Piper Chat, an arrangement that Gilfoyle only agrees to because it means a new opportunity to watch Dinesh fail. Ultimately, it’s what we all want, not because we don’t love Dinesh, but because success changes the nature of the series. It turns underdogs into douchebags, and while guys like Russ Hanneman and Action Jack Barker inject a lot of comedy into the proceedings, the last thing anyone wants to see is a show about six Zuckerbergs.

Let’s just hope that Mike Judge and showrunner Alec Berg can keep finding ways to set Pied Piper up for failure without breaking their — or our — spirit. The fourth season premiere was certainly a good start.

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

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