HBO is known for originating content that represents everyone from millennials in Brooklyn, to gay men in San Francisco, to fantasy royalty in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. It was only a matter of time before they focused on a group of programmers in Silicon Valley.
Created by King of the Hill creator Mike Judge, Silicon Valley takes a look at youthful minds in a culture that begs for constant innovation. Where Owen Wilson’s and Vince Vaughn’s The Internship put two unlikely faces in the middle of this fast paced world of technology, Silicon Valley introduces us to the people who are comfortable creating our apps and smart phones.
The series’ protagonist, Richard Hendrix, is working alongside four other programmers in an “incubator,” someone’s house where they all work on their individual programs. The other programmers are familiar comedic faces like Kumil Nanjiani (Portlandia), Josh Brener (The Internship), and T. J. Miller (Cloverfield).
Richard is played by uncomfortable-yet-adorable Thomas Middleditch (who stars in a hilarious the Above Average webseries “The Morning After“). While coming up with a seemingly useless app to detect copyright infringement in music, he actually creates “a compression algorithm.” I put that in quotes because that means nothing to me, but it seems like it means everything to the team. Apparently, this fictional algorithm would make compressing files extremely quick without losing file quality. I take this to mean that I could watch this show on my iPhone without there being a stupid lag. When the company that Richard works for hears about his personal project, they begin a bidding war with innovative investor Peter Gregory, played by the late Christopher Evan Welch. In the heat of going from being a nobody to someone of enormous monetary value, Richard frantically weighs his options. Does he want to sell his idea, or turn it into his own business that he can build from the ground up?
While I didn’t find this show “laugh out loud” funny, I’m pretty sure that was due to the technical jokes about programming and coding that they threw around. I’m sure it reflected niche nuances of app-developing culture. Still, the show has a solid foundation to fully round out these characters, and I’m excited to see how the story about Richard’s business plays out over the course of this first season. With a clever and unique environment, a varied ensemble of seasoned comedians, Silicon Valley is sure to be a hit.
“It’s just a garden variety panic attack,” a doctor says to Richard after he pukes out of stress during the bidding war. “Welcome to Silicon Valley. We see people like you all the time,” he replies.