'Silicon Valley' Season 2 New Boss Suzanne Cryer Says Her Role Isn't About Adding Ladies To A Male-Dominated Show
If you haven’t started watching HBO’s Silicon Valley, you had better catch up quick because there is a new boss in town and she is shaking things up big time. This whip smart show is unquestionably a satire of what’s happening in the tech world today, the jokes and situations so eerily close to reality that it walks a fine line from uncomfortable to hilarious. As critics were quick to point out, Silicon Valley has a women problem. Their lack of female characters made almost as many headlines as its ratings, gaining more attention as real gender discrimination lawsuits were filed in Palo Alto, CA. That’s changing with the start of Silicon Valley Season 2 with new boss Suzanne Cryer (perhaps best known for her role as Ashley on Two Guys a Girl and a Pizza Place) aka Laurie Bream, a managing partner at Raviga Capital. Cryer took some time to speak with Bustle about what it means to be a woman on the show and all of the think-pieces that surround the show's lack of ladies.
“This role is really interesting because on the one hand it's not about gender, but on the other hand it is going to be the focal point of a lot of gender discussions. But the great thing about Laurie Bream is that her purpose isn't based on her gender," Cryer says, reflecting on her addition to the male dominated cast. Bream will be one of the few developed female characters on the show, the other being the very capable (and of course extremely good looking) assistant at the Venture Capital firm investing in Pied Piper.
It’s a role that comes with media scrutiny, and more than a little pressure. It’s all too easy to speculate at the many reasons for her addition to the cast. Maybe it was to quell the critics that have demanded more women be present on the series. Perhaps they needed another “eccentric boss” type to fill the void left by the death of Christopher Welch (who played the hilarious oddball Peter Gregory, the key investor of Pied Piper).
"She is fulfilling a task. She wasn’t put on this show to serve a female need even though the men are very forward thinking by putting her at the head of a venture capital firm,” says the actress, discussing the connection between her character and the real world. “Laurie Bream is an internal hire in the company, but she's been high powered and been moved up. Which is exactly what all these lawsuits and controversy is over: Why aren't these women being tapped for these significant positions?”
It’s that refreshing honesty that makes me excited to see Cryer take on this new role, which will clearly launch more conversations about women in tech. She doesn’t hold back about the freedom that comes from playing a high-powered women who isn't interested in your typical starlet trappings. “It can be quite exhausting as a woman to always be worried about how you seem to other people. And Laurie Bream does not think about how she seems at all," says Cryer.
It’s easy to look at her addition as paying lip service to the show’s critics, but it seems like it goes far beyond that. Adding a woman to the cast as the conversation of gender equality dominates national headlines strikes Cryer as less of a token gesture and more like part of a master plan.
“Alec Berg and Mike Judge have been ahead of the curve on a lot of issues... they’ve been very prescient in terms of anticipating things. They've been planning this for a while, long before the Palo Alto lawsuit came about,” she says. Staying ahead of the conversation, while not sacrificing character or plot is a lot to juggle, but it sounds like Season 2 is up to the challenge.
I wonder if the extra attention is nerve wracking for her or at the very least an uncomfortable adjustment. Cryer, however seems quite at home with it. The level of heightened stress and scrutiny is something she can relate to. She harnesses her real life experiences to bring Bream to life on the show. “Much of her behavior can probably be attributed to recognizing the kind of scrutiny she feels she's under," says Cryer. "Entering the show as a woman when there's been discussion about gender balance in Silicon Valley the show, as well and entering as a person whose stepping into a seat that's been previously filled by someone else, I certainly am also aware of a level of scrutiny.”
As for what's coming down the line as the boys come back to town, Cryer speaks in glowing terms about the show and its sense of humor, while being careful to not give away any real spoilers — though she did reveal a bit more about her character. Bream rocks Coach loafers and lacks a similar emotional palate to other people; she doesn’t care about her makeup or what she’s wearing. "Shopping for her is just a headache that has to be accomplished so she doesn’t go to work in her underwear," says Cryer.
At the end of the day, regardless of how people respond to Laurie Bream, Cryer knows she is incredibly fortunate. “I was happy to just work on the audition for this show… I honestly feel like a twelve year old kid who got the best birthday day present in the world,” she tells Bustle.
It’s an exciting role that reflects a crucial conversation, and after speaking with Cryer I am beyond ready for Season 2 to begin so I can watch her in action.
Images: Frank Masi,Jaimie Trueblood/HBO