Sunday, November 03, 2019
Review: SILICON VALLEY (HBO)
SUNDAYS – 10:00 to 10:30
The short review: It’s funny! Smart! Skewers high tech pretentions!
This is the sixth and alas! final season for the series.
Finding the humor in the world of start-up high technology development, Silicon Valley (SV) becomes a worthy successor to Doonesbury. While Doonesbury illuminated the foolishness of managers, SV describes a full set of coders in the trenches, innocent entrepreneurs, and the wild world of predatory companies and venture capital investors.
The characters are sharply drawn, enacted with skill by actors whose comedy is heightened by not being “funny”. The problems that the characters face are real, and the characters themselves… well I’ve met many of them in real life, and IRL they are just like that, but not funny.
The spine of the show is the contrast between the expectation, beliefs and actions that are current in the tech world, and a rather more accurate portrayal of the reality: One segment from a past season, portrayed a character delighted to be picked up for a meeting in a self-driving car that comes by itself to get him. Unfortunately, on the way to the meeting, the car remotely gets a change of destination instructions, and the character remains trapped in the car as it gets carried overseas on a container ship.
The startup, Pied Piper, the center of the show, keeps pivoting – in both its product focus and its strategy -- to find a path through the maze of startup friction.
The current, sixth, and final season seems likely to put the spotlight on Pied Piper’s efforts to create a new internet, free of the problems of our current internet. It vows not to capture personal data for exploitation. This goal seems to have encountered its first challenge in episode one, when a game that was not supposed to collect personal data, did. And when the game designer, blackmailed with recordings of his misdeeds to force him to go to his Board and resign, went to his Board, it seemed they took his “misdeeds” as great work.
It’s always fun and challenging to try to imagine how a series will end, as it gets into its final season:
Here we have a small company, run by a brilliant programmer, (but a less savvy, though always resourceful and dedicated entrepreneur); one that we root for, while suffering one setback, after another advance, after another setback, after another; a company that seems in no position -- with just a few episodes left -- to either succeed or fail big enough to provide any satisfying conclusion… at least any that I can easily predict (but which I do believe the terrific writing & directing team will invent)!
It’s a great series! Start now, (or, even better, find a way to go back and see the whole series from the beginning)!
One of the series regulars, Kumail Nanjiani, was at the Hamptons International Film Festival in 2017. He and his wife had just made The Big Sick, and he was one of the year’s 10 Actors to Watch. He was very impressive, sharp, witty and intelligent in several events at the Festival.
SILICON VALLEY – IMDB
SILICON VALLEY WIKIPEDIA
Thomas Middleditch -- Richard Hendricks -- star coder & entrepreneur
Josh Brener -- Nelson 'Big Head' Bighetti -- upward failing coder
Martin Starr -- Bertram Gilfoyle -- expert coder
Kumail Nanjiani -- Dinesh Chugtai -- coder
Amanda Crew -- Monica Hall -- sympathetic venture investor
Zach Woods -- Donald 'Jared' Dunn -- very supportive assistant
Matt Ross -- Gavin Belson -- owner of a big competitor
Jimmy O. Yang -- Jian Yang -- competitor
Suzanne Cryer -- Laurie Bream -- humorless venture capitalist
T.J. Miller -- Erlich Bachman -- schemer (in first few seasons)
Chris Diamantopoulos -- Russ Hanneman -- mercurial investor