Start tuning in to HBO’s Silicon Valley


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.

Image, via.


Lessons in the ‘Girls’ Lexicon: Finale


Syd: Well, here we are, at the end of what I consider to be one of the most unpredictable and emotionally confusing seasons of TV in my long career as a television viewer. I would absolutely love to have a face-to-face meeting with Dunham to try to figure out what the hell is going on inside of her head, but unfortunately I’m neither nearly well-connected nor cool enough. So, in place of real facts, I’ll give you my opinion (you lucky dogs!).  Season 2 didn’t necessarily suck, rather it was a huge and surprising departure from Season 1. Dunham moved away from somewhat fluffy, inoffensive “white girl problems” (i.e. Shoshanna’s virginity, Hannah being cut off from her parents, Jessa’s sexual dalliances, and Marnie’s struggle to cope with a lackluster boyfriend) and decided to use Season 2 to tackle some really complex issues. We witnessed parental abandonment, drug abuse, sexual assault, and really scary case of OCD.  Needless to say, it was a difficult season to watch—not because it was bad, but because I expected one kind of show and received something completely different. While I could use up this space to shit on all the things that went wrong in Girls Season 2, I’ve instead decided to have a discussion with Blog writer and fellow Girls enthusiast Sam Levison.

Sam: Girls‘ third episode, “All Adventurous Women Do,” concluded with a rather endearing scene. Hannah Horvath, having fully established herself as lovably awkward and aimless by this point, is listening (or jamming out, rather) to Robyn’s “Dancing on My Own.” Marnie comes home from work, giggles in the doorway and joins her in the bedroom disco. Hannah’s no longer dancing on her own—GET IT!? If Girls continued to rest solely on such “relatable” contrivances it might have made for some fleeting fun—but real life isn’t always a bad day and a rejuvenating dance party. Season 2 has expressed this notion in all its dark, cringeworthy truth. For lack of a better metaphor, one might view it as a Funny People for Season 1’s The Forty Year-Old Virgin. Here on Blog, there’s been a tendency to lament the show’s changes. I’d respectfully disagree and argue that this season, while ostensibly less funny, is a triumph (I’ll elaborate on this below).  Sure Season 2 is difficult at times, but so is life.

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Lessons in the ‘Girls’ Lexicon: “Wednesday night”

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Wednesday night (n.)A weeknight when Hannah does something out of her comfort zone to make a clean break from the tedium of her otherwise boring life.

How it’s used in the show: “[i]t’s a Wednesday night, baby, and I’m alive!” declares Girls’s leading lady Hannah Horvath, smacking her yellow-mesh-clad chest, post-coke bender.

It’s a sentiment not unfamiliar to many Brown students. While Hannah’s crazy Wednesday night out was intended for (semi-questionable) writing inspiration, Brown students have historically been using this day of the week as a way to blow off some steam. There are few better ways to give the finger to your studies and responsibilities than by getting a little drunk and/or dance-y at your bar of choice. It seems the majority of Brown students flock to South Water Street’s “Whiskey Republic,” affectionately referred to as “Whisko” in memoriam of the beloved previous tenant, “FishCo.” As far as we’re concerned, Thursday morning classes don’t exist.

We’re not advising you to get drunk every Wednesday (or to participate in drug-related debauchery, Hannah Horvath style) so much as we’re suggesting that you take a little break and do something for yourself. This can be as simple as cooking dinner with some friends, going to an extra-long yoga class, or catching up on your favorite TV series. Continue Reading

Lessons in the ‘Girls’ Lexicon: “Republican”

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This author has chosen to remain anonymous. This individual does not want you to accuse him/her of not reading your work because he/she is too busy reading Republican Quarterly.”

Republican (n.): A gun-loving, rights-hating individual who is ultimately undateable.

How it’s used in the show: Hannah dates a Republican named Sandy, and later breaks up with him because their “political beliefs are just a little too different.”

We assume (correctly) that the main characters on Girls are left-leaning individuals. Maybe it’s because they live in Brooklyn and graduated from Oberlin (well, most of them did). Most likely, however, it’s because we’ve come to believe that millennials, by default, all adhere to a certain set of liberal beliefs.

As college students at Brown, we tend to take these beliefs for granted. It’s not that we don’t appreciate them— but they’ve become commonplace, and are therefore accepted as the norm. The same goes for the characters on Girls: the ease with which they talk about sex and sexuality reflects their left-leaning political preferences, and whom they vote for. This openness is why many find the show appealing. However, up until this episode, there has been no contesting force that challenges the characters’ values, nor any person or idea that deviates from their widely accepted political norms. Once it’s discovered that a Republican (gasp) lives among the show’s liberal cast members, they are forced to articulate their stances on certain issues and underscore just how different they are from their right-leaning antithesis. Continue Reading

Lessons in the ‘Girls’ Lexicon: “Main hang”

Main hangWe love HBO’s Girls, and we know you do too. Instead of doing a traditional recap of each episode every week, we will be taking a term that is used in each episode, and applying it to Brown’s own unique culture.

Main hang (n.): A person who inhabits the role of a significant other without taking on the responsibilities and legitimate (read: daunting) title of “boyfriend” or “girlfriend”

How it’s used in the show: Hannah attempts to discuss her relationship with Adam, reminding him that they’re not together anymore, to which Adam replies: “I don’t really care about labels. You’re here all the time. You’re my main hang.”

To use the term “main hang” is to acknowledge that there is some sort of relationship present without the weightiness and definite-ness that comes with using the term boyfriend/girlfriend. However, main hang is still, in a sense, a label, despite the fact that Adam doesn’t “care about” them. So what makes it any less daunting than it’s traditional predecessor? Maybe we college kids are scared off by what the titles of boyfriend and girlfriend have come to mean. We’re shown that in most cases, without a breakup (which seems to almost always suck), boyfriends and girlfriends move on to become fiancees, and eventually spouses. In our collegiate bubble that places a premium on individuality and independence, it’s normal for us to feel trapped by the seemingly inevitable chain of events that comes with boyfriend/girlfriend labels, regardless of how much you currently like being with your significant other. Having a boyfriend or girlfriend also means having to deal with a potential breakup. There are the awkward condolences from friends (and even acquaintances!), and the uncertainty of how long is appropriate for mourning and rebounding moving on.   Continue Reading