Jul 18, 2018

[TV] Silicon Valley: Season 3 Review

Silicon Valley may not be the most dynamic comedy series out there but it's one that scratches a particular itch for viewers like me. It's funny, but in a rather different way than most. It's not just the technobabble and the constant profanity but something else that is all of that and yet beyond all that as well.

There's something about the journey of Pied Piper as a company that is oddly fascinating. I guess it has a lot to do with how the company feels oddly familiar in terms of their struggles as the writers have invested a lot into drawing from the industry in crafting its over the top characters and plotting their stories.

This season certainly threw quite the wrench into the works as the direction of the company no longer seems to be in the hands of our "heroes", for lack of a better term. But how they wiggle out of this one is just part and parcel for how this show is consistently entertaining.

Synopsis: Silicon Valley is a comedy series created by Mike Judge, John Altschuler, and Dave Krinsky. The show is an HBO and already spans 5 seasons as of the time of this review with a sixth season in the works.

With Richard (Thomas Middleditch) no longer CEO of Pied Piper, the board brings in Jack Barker (Stephen Tobolowsky) as the new CEO given his more extensive business experience. But he plans on making Pied Piper profitable as soon as possible by shifting to a business focus instead of a consumer one, all of which is against Richard's original wishes for the company. But as he's unwilling to become the CTO of other companies doing the same old stuff, he tries to stick around and endure Barker's plans for the company.

Meanwhile Gavin Belson (Matt Ross) ends up firing the entire Nucleus team in order to somehow recover costs after his mad dash to try to beat Pied Piper's technology. Erlich (T.J. Miller) finds himself stuck with Jian-Yang (Jimmy O. Yang) as the local laws make lawful eviction a very difficult process. And how this all leads to Erlich getting into a business partnership with Big Head (Josh Brener) of all people is something hard to explain until you watch the season.

What I Liked: The introduction of Jack Barker was a brilliant writing move given how annoying the character is in a clever way. He was an odd barrier to Pied Piper's plans but one that totally makes sense on paper as we see this happen in the actual Silicon Valley all the time. You can't really argue that Jack is a "bad guy" as he was trying to do what he felt was best for the company while Richard continues to be rather idealistic and often naive about his big ideas.

I wasn't expecting Erlich's side stories to get so crazy but this season really had things blow up once he started working with Big Head in like a real way. Sure it was no Pied Piper in terms of the quality of the idea but it's not like we expected something that lofty from those two. But watching their journey was entertaining in itself and a great addition to the seasons's overall feel.

What Could Have Been Better: I guess there's a serious effort to push Richard into being a character we can't always love as he does make some very questionable decisions in this season. Sure he means well and it's the usual sort of creator-driven narrative we see when it clashes with the limitations of business priorities. But at the same time the show is really making it clear that he isn't always the sharpest tool in the shed when it comes to dealing with other people.

And while I do enjoy Gavin Belson as s sort of lingering antagonist, I'm not entirely sure why he had to linger in the show for this season. He had a decent enough story, I suppose, many times it felt more in service to a plot point in the narrative of the Pied Piper guys and not always a distinct story worth exploring on its own. And it's a shame given how good an actor he is and what he contributes to the show when he does have valuable screen time.

TL;DR: Silicon Valley is still a great show with a lot of hilarious moments and these days multiple plot threads running simultaneously. The journey that Richard and Pied Piper ends up going through is totally worth it for this season and it truly carries the show. Thus the season gets a good 4 silly insults between Dinesh and Gilfoyle out of a possible 5.

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