Silicon Valley is an American television sitcom created by Mike Judge, John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky. It premiered on HBO on April 6, 2014, running for a total of six seasons of 53 episodes, with the series finale airing on December 8, 2019. The series, a parody of Silicon Valley culture, focuses on Richard Hendricks (Thomas Middleditch), a programmer who founds a startup company called Pied Piper, and chronicles his struggles trying to maintain his company while facing competition from larger entities.
Richard Henricks (Thomas Middleditch) creates an app known as Pied Piper which contains a revolutionary data compression algorithm. Venture capitalist Peter Gregory (Christopher Evan Welch) and his assistant Monica (Amanda Crew) acquire a stake in Pied Piper, and Richard hires the residents of his childhood friend Erlich Bachman's (TJ Miller) house, his other friends Bertram Gilfoyle (Martin Starr) and Dinesh Chugtai (Kumail Nanjiani), alongside Donald "Jared" Dunn (Zach Woods), who defected from another tech company called Hooli. Meanwhile, Richard's roommate Nelson "Big Head" Bighetti (Josh Brener) chooses to accept a substantial promotion at Hooli instead, despite his lack of merit for the job. Conniving Hooli CEO Gavin Belson (Matt Ross), however, instructs his employees to reverse engineer Pied Piper's algorithm and develops a copycat product called Nucleus.
Why It Rocks
- A very original premise, providing a tech-themed take on the Office-style work comedy.
- Likable characters, especially the main crew (Richard, Jared, Dinesh, and Gilfoyle).
- Well-written and well-developed supporting characters, including Gavin, Russ, Monica, and Ron, are rampant throughout the series.
- The main group (the four guys plus Monica and Big Head) stay friends even in extreme situations of pressure, which is a good message to viewers.
- Good humor, with the jokes feeling genuine and not forced in any way. The lack of a laugh track aids this.
- Good soundtrack featuring memorable songs, including "Pied Piper" by Crispian St Peters and "Minority" by Green Day
- Good acting, especially from the main cast, Amanda Crew, Matt Ross, and Jimmy O. Yang.
- A lot of Jared's moments were improvised by Zach Woods, which is additionally impressive.
- Many memorable moments, including:
- The famous "Mean Jerk Time" scene, where the guys find "inspiration" for their algorithm by measuring how long it would take them to masturbate every guy in the TechCrunch audience.
- Dinesh and Gilfoyle doing SWOT analysis over letting a stuntman die.
- Big Head becoming a college professor despite his minimal qualifications.
- Believable character development, including Richard being more decisive as CEO and Jared learning to stop always relying on others.
- Big Head's character development - becoming very successful despite his stupidity and alleged uselessness - is funny and endearing.
- It mocks the culture surrounding modern technology companies by exaggerating situations that real companies might end up in, a lot of which were based on true stories.
- The "Skunkworks" project undertaken by Richard and the gang is based on an infamous real-life project done by Microsoft employees.
- Peter Gregory's fake TED Talk is based on a real one done by famous venture capitalist Peter Thiel.
- Pied Piper's "Tables" ad is based on the "Chairs" ad from Facebook, even being an exact copy.
- Russ Hanneman, another VC, is directly based on media proprietor and entrepreneur Mark Cuban.
- The character of Jack Barker, an ruthless interim CEO of Pied Piper, is based on NBA majority owner and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
- A very good theme song and opening sequence, the latter changing each season.
- Aside from taking inspiration from real-world events, the show is also extremely accurate with its descriptions of code and software, with Microsoft, Google, and Amazon employees fact-checking and serving as consultants for a lot of the script and scenes.
- When Christopher Evan Welch died in real life, the show did the best way of honoring him, devoting an entire episode to actors breaking character and talking about how good he was at his funeral and uploading a "best of" compilation on their YouTube channel in memory.
- The show had a real-world impact on technology, with both a real-life way of measuring data compression created and named after the one from the show, and the "Mean Jerk Time" algorithm from the first season finale being solved in real life.
- It could even be considered an "edu-taining" sitcom, because characters sometimes take the time to explain a lot of the concepts and tech jokes in the scripts.
- The final episode is a "where are they now?"-style fake documentary of the characters, set one year after the events of the penultimate episode, which is a rather original concept for a finale, only used by Parks & Recreation before.
- Erlich is a rather unlikable character, as he sometimes takes advantage of Richard and is extremely perverted and misogynistic, to the point of getting flanderized by the end of the second season. TJ Miller quit the show in the fourth season because of complications with producers regarding his conduct.
- The fifth season is a huge step down in quality, with not as many of the episodes being as fun, several characters being flanderized (Richard, Jared, and Dinesh), and several new characters introduced (Gabe and Holden) that felt like forced inclusions. Luckily, the sixth season saved it.
- Bill Gates (who guest starred in the final episode) and Elon Musk both admitted to being fans of the show.
- The show's theme song, "Stretch Your Face" by the band Tobacco, was released a decade before the show came out.
- In the first episode, the theme song was "She Blinded Me With Science" by Thomas Dolby.