For four seasons, HBO's Silicon Valley has delighted savvy audiences with the combination of its cringeworthy comedy and its astute skewering of the self-important tech industry. But if it feels like the show is nearing the end of an era, you're not wrong. Silicon Valley will return for Season 5, but it may look a lot different. The June 25 Season 4 finale be the final hour for a certain configuration of the Pied Piper crew.
Every season, the show's cast of lovable misfits rallies against the odds and nearly reach fame and success — only to be knocked down again by the cruel and merciless world of Silicon Valley. It's always two steps forward, one step back for Richard Hendricks and his team… so how many times and different ways can audiences be expected to watch them fail? Despite the The Hollywood Reporter news that seemingly indispensable supporting cast member T.J. Miller is leaving Silicon Valley, can the show stay on top of its game?
Although it may be nearly impossible to imagine the tech comedy continuing without the hubristic bluster and chicanery of Erlich Bachman, well… the show must go on. HBO already renewed Silicon Valley for Season 5 back in May, according to Deadline, just as the current season reached its halfway point. So Richard and the rest will have to find a way to carry on without Erlich somehow.
News of Miller's departure from the series broke just hours after HBO's renewal announcement, so the network and the show's writers must have known they would be crafting an Erlich-less season when they decided to bring Silicon Valley back. But that wasn't always the intention when they ended Season 4's penultimate episode with Erlich accepting an invitation from Gavin Belson to join him at a monastery in Tibet. But Miller revealed in an interview with The Wrap that he had long been mulling his exit from the series, and when he saw how Season 4 ended, he decided it would be the perfect time to bow out (semi-) gracefully.
"The finale ends as a cliffhanger of whether anyone would ever see Erlich again, and to me, when I read it, I started laughing to myself, thinking, 'My God, this is the perfect way to say: No, no one ever saw Erlich again — that was it,'" the actor told The Wrap. "And it was just so funny and so real and so true." He also referenced the show's semi-procedural nature as part of the reason for his departure. "The show is the same thing over and over," he said. "I guess it's a formula that works, but [the heroes] succeed, and then they fail, and then the failure turns into success. It's a very cyclical show."
That cyclical nature led to a desire to shake things up in his own personal career, as Miller said during an interview on Larry King Now. "My wife, Kate, has always quoted David Bowie as saying that somebody is at their best creatively when they're in the water and their toes are barely touching the bottom," he recalled. "I think that's a really cute quote. It is good to be in an unstable and unsafe place."
Still, if you're nervous about the idea of Silicon Valley continuing without Erlich, the actor says not to be. "Let's be honest, there's no way that the show isn't going to change and become better," he told Larry King.
Also, he claims that the way Erlich goes out is perfect for the character. "What I've been telling people is — they're like, 'Does Erlich die?' Uh, no, but he goes to a better place," he said in the same interview with The Wrap.
Cheers, Mr. Bachman. This may not be the end as far as the show is concerned… but sadly it is the end of an era: the Era of Erlich.
Silicon Valley will continue the misadventures of the rest of the Pied Piper crew when it returns for Season 5 in 2018 — likely in April, like all four seasons before it.