HBO should stick to the fantasy worlds of the vampire-ridden deep South or the cutthroat lands of Westeros — whenever it tries to touch a finger to the Bay Area, it gets it horribly wrong.
With “Looking,” HBO attempted to capture the gay man’s romantic plight in San Francisco and left us with a steaming pile of boring. On Sunday night, the network premiered “Silicon Valley,” based loosely on creator Mike Judge’s own experiences in Silicon Valley in the 1980s, to take a second crack at Bay Area culture.
For some incredibly frustrating reason, the entertainment industry has decided that a nerdy, skinny, white guy who speaks like Michael Cera and acts like Jesse Eisenberg is the representative face of the tech industry. What television doesn’t seem to realize is that just because Mark Zuckerberg may or may not have remotely resembled this stereotype does not mean that every college-dropout-turned-tech-megastar is similarly disguised.
The series follows Richard (Thomas Middleditch), a stuttering, awkward programmer who has created the “next big thing,” an algorithm packaged into a product named the Pied Piper. His algorithm catches the attention of seed companies and big names in tech, including the head of Hooli, a company that is supposed to mirror Google. Richard chooses to avoid the trappings of selling out to big tech and decides to engage on an adventure with his misfit crew of programmers to venture forth with his own startup.
The usual parade of Silicon Valley stereotypes are all present in the pilot episode — complaints of high rent, aggravations over disappearing quinoa and discussions in tech jargon are flung at the viewer in the hopes that compiled together, these facets will make up a cohesive picture of Bay Area tech culture. The Indian or Asian programmer appears every now and then in the background, and the obligatory hot woman pops up in the midst of a testosterone-fueled workplace.
Sadly, the creators seemed to have spent too much time trying to get the ambience of Silicon Valley right and not enough time on the jokes. For a comedy, there was little to nothing to laugh about. At the end of the pilot, Richard stands to give a speech as his friends take bong hits and throw a ball in the air. The scene is set up to represent the idea that these kids are outsiders and aren’t cool. Richard proposes that their company stay true to itself and not put up the pretenses other tech companies front.
Contrary to Richard’s wishes, “Silicon Valley” is all old cliche and tired facade. Stick to Westeros, HBO. You’re far better when out of the Bay.