Imagine a world run by the most brilliant minds, where genius is the order of the day and innovation the local currency. Now imagine that those brilliant minds had no social skills, couldn’t present their way out of an elevator and had absolutely no business sense whatsoever.
This is the world of Silicon Valley, the setting for the hit HBO series created by Mike Judge (Office Space, Idiocracy) and based at least partially on his own experiences in Silicon Valley in the 1980s.
HBO’s Silicon Valley is the story of the awkward yet brilliant computer programmer Richard (Thomas Middleditch, The Wolf of Wall Street) who lives in a ‘hacker hostel’ and just happens to create a compression algorithm that will change the face of tech forever. Soon caught in the crosshairs of the bidding war between billionaire venture capitalist Peter Gregory (Christopher Evan Welch, The Master) and innovation master Gavin Belson, Richard must make the impossible decision between selling out or going the long game with his product Pied Piper.
“It's weird. They always travel in groups of five. These programmers, there's always a tall skinny white guy, a short skinny Asian guy, fat guy with a ponytail, some guy with crazy facial hair and then an East Indian guy. It's like they trade guys until they all have the right group” – Gavin Belson, Silicon Valley, “Minimum Viable Product”
There is much hilarity along the way as Richard and his hacker friends hit the parties and big life in the Valley. Life in the ‘hacker hostel’ is not without its trials and tribulations though. Richard soon learns that he has no idea of how to pitch his product and get his ideas across. He has to navigate the slippery path between success and friendship and soon learns that alcohol and business do not mix.
With the exception of some, the cast of Silicon Valley was largely unknown before the series; they were the type of actors that you might recognise but could not place. In the opening scenes of the first episode, I was unsure whether I would find sympathy with Richard and the rest of his friends in this unknown territory of tech and coding. My fears were absolutely unfounded – Silicon Valley draws you in and I soon found myself binge-watching the entire first season.
The best character on Silicon Valley is without a doubt Jared (Zach Woods, The Office). Former executive and right-hand man to Gavin Belson, Jared defects to Pied Piper and works as business developer for Richard. He is meant to be the least cool, most awkward and most disposable member of the team but he is the backbone of the company. Zach Woods is brilliant in this role and his performance as the sleep-deprived, caffeine overdosed, rather unhinged Jared in the final episode “Optimal Tip-To-Tip Efficiency” was inspired.
“How much would it be worth to you if I told you I had a GPS app called Pied Piper tracking the location of your child? I can follow your child anywhere and there is nothing you can do to stop me. Most missing children are never found. Interested, very interested, or very interested?” – Jared, Silicon Valley, “Optimal Tip-To-Tip Efficiency”
In a world dominated by young, single, awkward men, it was great to see that the only characters with any real power were the women. While the hackers chase their own tails putting out fires and Peter Gregory and Gavin Belson trip over their own feet trying to outdo each other, there is one character who remains cool. Amanda Crew stars as Monica, Peter Gregory’s head of operations and the one who convinces Peter to invest in Pied Piper.
There was nothing to dislike about Silicon Valley. Sure, Erlich (T.J. Miller) is not as cool as he thinks he is and neither are Gavin Belson or Peter Gregory but that is no criticism.
I give Silicon Valley a superb five out of five stars and am thrilled that it has been renewed for a second season and will return to HBO on 12 April 2015.
HBO Silicon Valley: Season 1 will be available on Blu-ray, DVD and Demand on 23 March 2015 in the UK and 31 March 2015 in the US. You can buy from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com or you can enter below to win one of two copies of the complete first season on DVD.
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