I realise it sounds ridiculous to say this about a 30-minute comedy episode written by the creator of Beavis & Butthead, but watching Silicon Valley can at times be a gruelling experience. After two seasons I’m now conditioned to the formula — anytime things are going well for Richard and Pied Piper, I know it’ll never last. Stories naturally have the protagonist struggle, of course. But Richard is always up against it. He gets a brief reprieve, perhaps at the end of a season, before everything goes wrong again. I feel for the poor man when he’s struggling. Then, when things turn out well, I’m tense again, waiting for the next problem
I wonder how this shows ends. I see it as Pied Piper becomes a massive success or it crashes horribly. No middle ground. If it’s a blazing success, then the team become rich. Mad rich. And while PP’s team aren’t hugely motivated by money, if they’re all sitting on personal fortunes, do we identify with them as well? Would we care as much about their personal issues if they relate to Millionaire Problems? There are plenty of shows featuring wealthy characters who we identify with, but their finances aren’t a big part of the show. They’re scenery, part of the character’s lifestyle. SV is about making a company profitable, in a part of the world seemingly obsessed with money. So a focus on money-making is baked-in to SV’s universe.
Characters: Jared cemented his status as my favourite of the cast. SV has always been really quotable, but most of the best lines in season three have been his. Gilfoyle was my least favourite character in season two. His constant deadpan was too much, and it seemed like he was getting lines just to give him something to do. But in season three his presence felt more organic.
Season three was the best so far. All the characters have interesting story points and reasons to deserve screen time. Laurie finally seems less like a female version of Peter Gregory and more of a character in her own right. The sizeable gap left by the disappearance of Russ Hahneman has been effortlessly filled.
There were lots of moments in season two I didn’t care about (server farms for instance) and that jarred with the rest of the show, and only seemed to exist in order to fill time. I only noticed one similar occurrence in season three: Richard’s new girlfriend and the tab/space dispute. That seemed so unnecessary that I expected her to appear later as a new foe, out to punish Richard for leaving her. As she didn’t, I think that plot line was only there so Richard could join with the others in getting some action.
One of the great things about SV is there’s a feeling of truth to it. As with most impressive fiction, even if you don’t understand the world, the world still rings true. Realising that Peter Gregory was partly inspired by Peter Thiel makes that more noticeable. A downside to that feeling or truth, however, comes when a particularly idiosyncratic character first appears. I try to concentrate on the show, but in the back of my mind, I’m trying to deduce who they’re based on. When ‘Action’ Jack Barker appeared, I expected he’d be similar to some real-life Silicon Valley celebrity I was unaware of. I might have imagined it, but I felt the show used his first name a lot, as if hinting to the audience about a link to another Jack. Then I discovered that Twitter co-founder and CEO, Jack Dorsey, was known for leaving the office during the day to go to yoga or sewing classes, much like our fictional Jack bails out to, say, watch a monstrous horse-penis do its thing (I’m still troubled by that). Besides that, I really can’t see much of a link between the two.