‘Silicon Valley’ on HBO takes the geek culture in ‘Big Bang Theory’, spins it around and tosses in an ‘Office Space’ flavor for one of the best new comedies on television today…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
In the landscape of television these days, there’s no denying that geek is chic.
Whether you’re talking about comedies such as ‘The Big Bang Theory’ that dominate the ratings landscape each Thursday night or the litany of comic book related shows picked up, currently on air or in production, it’s clear we are sitting directly in the center of a nerd-olution. Now, as a fan of this genre of TV, I’m a pretty happy fan boy right now. It’s awesome to see high end productions and serious TV money going towards projects like ‘The Walking Dead’ or ‘Game of Thrones’ because 20 years ago, these types of shows would have either never made it to air or been given a paltry budget and discarded to the bottom of the SyFy trash bin.
Instead, television networks across the board are looking for the next cult/nerd show to put on the air and while some of it may end up being overkill and others will certainly end up in the afore mentioned garbage can, this new spring of geek love is turning out some very quality shows right now.
The latest series to capture my attention while also really playing on the real life of nerd culture is the show ‘Silicon Valley’ airing on HBO Sunday night’s following ‘Game of Thrones’. The show focuses around a house full of coders and programmers all hoping to strike it rich with the next Facebook in a set up similar to the one you may have witnessed in ‘The Social Network’ when Mark Zuckerberg rents a house in the same area of California while breeding the new wave of internet masterminds. The central story surrounds Richard — a genius who by day works at a company called Hooli (think Google) while at night he’s working on his own programs, one of which is a compression engine that shrinks files down to a minute size while losing none of the quality of audio or video. Think of it this way — it’s a program that would allow you to download an entire illegally streamed album you just found on Piratebay in seconds that would sound just as good as the ones that would normally take 15 or 20 minutes to download.
Well, immediately Richard finds himself in the midst of a bidding war between Gavin Belson (played by Big Love’s Matt Ross) and the late, great Christopher Evan Welch, who plays fellow start up capitalist Peter Gregory. Both men want in on the new idea, which could potentially spawn billions upon billions in revenue, but Belson wants to buy it straight out and make it his own while Peter Gregory hopes to invest in Richard and his new creation to help them both get filthy rich in the process.
Now every show focusing on what I call ‘nerd culture’ is going to be an over exaggerated version of reality. I mean that’s what TV is all about. The guys on ‘The Big Bang Theory’ don’t actually exist and if they do most of them probably don’t look much like Johnny Galecki or have the same over stated quirks that a character like Sheldon Cooper portrays. The same can be said for the guys on ‘Silicon Valley’ but at the same time I find their adaptation more real to life than most TV shows ever get right when it comes to how a nerd behaves. These coders and computer geniuses are socially awkward and anyone that’s ever attended San Diego Comic Con can attest to this stereotype holding near flawless accuracy. The guys are this show enjoy doing nerdy things like playing video games and sitting in front of a computer screen at least 12 hours a day, but quietly they all want hot girlfriends and a ton of social attention. These are all facts of life and from the way the cast of ‘Silicon Valley’ dresses to social interaction to how they deal with girls — I have to say it’s pretty spot on.
The creator of Silicon Valley is none other than ‘Office Space’ creator Mike Judge and he seems to be very astute at creating and crafting these types of worlds and getting them exactly right. As a person that once upon a time worked in a cubicle 40 hours a week for almost five years, ‘Office Space’ wasn’t very far away at all from reality. I can certainly laugh at it, but I lived it and it’s disturbing how accurate that movie can be for those that understand a corporate-cubicle lifestyle. Well, while I’m not a coder or programmer, the portrayal witnessed through the first three episodes of ‘Silicon Valley’, Judge has managed to once again find a niche he can explore, drill into and get so right it’s scary.
The characters on ‘Silicon Valley’ can create elaborate programs and applications, but turn into babbling, bubbling idiots whenever a girl is even in the same vicinity. The guys are crude and rude towards each other because even in nerd society, it’s still survival of the fittest and only the strong survive. Think of ‘Silicon Valley’ as ‘The Big Bang Theory’ set in real life on HBO. There’s no pulling punches and even if there were, it’s a logical guess than these guys would have no idea what goes into throwing a jab or a left cross. They can build apps to find boobs across the city because ‘Revenge of the Nerds’ got it right when it said ‘all guys like us ever think about is sex’. It’s not far from the truth.
Luckily the minds at HBO saw the brilliance in ‘Silicon Valley’ through the first few episodes that have aired (there’s eight total in this first season) and renewed the show for a second season already. It’s good to have Mike Judge back to form on a show like this, which serves as a perfect little brother to his real opus ‘Office Space’.
If you’re not watching ‘Silicon Valley’, go to HBO Go and catch up on the last three episodes before the new one airs on Sunday night. It’s already turning into one of the best comedies on TV, and just like ‘The Big Bang Theory’, there’s definitely something for everybody in this show.
If you want to check out the first episode, HBO even made the debut available for free on YouTube. Take 30 minutes of your day and check it out: