'Silicon Valley' Season Premiere: It's Always Scathing In San Francisco, But Only If You Get It
This is a series that premieres with Kid Rock playing to an empty crowd. He's also the poorest person in the room. Welcome to Silicon Valley , which is Mike Judge's on-point, funny, and very targeted inside look at the tech start-up culture in San Francisco where no one is safe (even if everyone's doing everything for a good cause — but more on that later). Bro culture reaches new nadirs here — this is not the bro that you imagine.
What Silicon Valley aims to do is to treat tech culture for what it is — where everyone's doing everything for a "good cause" (look no further than Hooli, the Google-like empire that touts posters with orphaned children), and giving into corporate types of luxuries despite existing under a hood of "we're different; we're start-up guys. We're passionate about what we do. We code!"
Exactly. While Silicon Valley is indeed sharp and offers compelling characters (incubator Hacker house runner Erlich, played by T.J. Miller, runs around with a shirt that says "HTML: How To Meet Ladies, and Thomas Middleditch as our protagonist Richard offers an intriguing storyline of should I sell my product now or play the long haul game and potentially make even more?) but if you don't know the culture or terminology (which can border on jargon at times), you're not going to get it, which, interestingly enough, is so Silicon Valley — not the show, but the actual place. It's a place where people make jokes and say things that no one else will get. True to the folks who inspired the show, this is a show that excels when it talks about what it knows, but can give you a slight inferiority complex or just leave you entirely confused. You can even say that the show mirrors the elitist attitude in the tech world in San Francisco: you get to be a part of some place really cool (rock walls next to a coffee machine!) if you get it, but if you don't get it, don't bother.
Not that that's necessarily bad. The tech startup culture is a booming industry that warrants its own satire, yet since SIlicon Valley targets such a specific audience, this on-point, well scripted satire may not last.
If you're unfamiliar with the tech culture in San Francisco (and I profess to having some knowledge, but not an overwhelming amount) you do get the gist of it — you get that it's a scathing riff on the culture — you can snarkily chuckle at the obscene level of high technology in the Hooli office, that rock wall next to the coffee machine, and the teeny tiny cars. It's funny. It's well made. You know — like a good app you might download. But do you want to hang out there all night long, while the app is being made and there are in jokes that make you feel like an outsider? Granted, everybody needs inside jokes, but a show needs to be more than just an inside joke. We need to root for a protagonist, or feel like we're being let into a world — think political dramas, newsroom dramas, workplace comedies — as opposed to being told to keep hanging out on the outside because we're not nerd-cool enough to come in.
But then again, that just may be the way we're supposed to feel. It is Silicon Valley, after all.