You’ll have to excuse this review of the first season finale of Silicon Valley as I was still reeling from what happened in the latest episode of Game of Thrones that aired moments prior to this show. Yeesh.
Richard and his team have been boosted into the finals after a small misunderstanding with one of the now former judges; he assaulted Erlich for sleeping with his wife, again. I should clarify, Erlich slept with the judge’s first wife, then in trying to ascertain whether or not the judge knew about that happening, slept with the second wife. That man knows a secret because if his facial hair is any indicator, he shouldn’t be able to get within three feet of women without setting off some sort of alarm or manifesting a television host telling him to take a seat. Which is actually a very relevant analogy given the manic state of Jared who has since arriving on robot island become a bit twitchy. Anyway, in the finals, on their way, but wait. Gavin Belson still gets to present Nucleus, the compression program Hooli reverse engineered from Pied Piper.
Sure enough, Richard’s modest start-up can’t compete on any level with a billion dollar company in terms of presentation or product offered. Facing certain defeat, some of the crew decide to jump ship before it inevitably sinks and find there isn’t any land in sight. With nothing else to do, they spend most of the night doing needlessly involved calculations to find out how efficiently Erlich could… my Grandma reads this stuff, okay? You want to find out what they were doing, watch the episode. Either way, a flash of genius hits Richard and he figures out not only how to one-up Nucleus and Gavin, but to revolutionize modern computing. Unfortunately what he comes up with, essentially a supercharged Pied Piper that can compress a file down to 1/5 its original size (the program that almost netted him ten million dollars could only cut it down to about half), would fall into the present category of science-fiction. Boring science-fiction; the kind that doesn’t have autonomous robots and laser guided toasters but sci-fi nonetheless.
The same way Richard fixes up Pied Piper, with a new program that supercharges his compression speed and size, so does this episode supercharge the characters that their send off be as memorable as possible. Elrich is completely distasteful, Gilfoyle is vowed to the prince of darkness and Jared’s manic dependency issues manifest in what looks to be a three day Adderall binge. Most surprisingly it seems Richard found his confidence and rides it as long as he can to not only win the contest but open up the potential for some sort of non-professional relationship with Monica, at least according the awkward banter they get to share with each other. Of course, that has to come after he finishes puking yet again over just how much pressure has started to squeeze him for the success of his program.
So what has this show offered in the eight episodes of its first season? Quite a bit and at the same time not a lot. This isn’t a show that’s going to teach you how to code a website. Its focus is on the characters and the setting wrapped around a human story of a person with responsibility thrust upon them at a time when they aren’t ready for it at all. It would’ve been nice if through all the techno jargon that’s spouted off, at least one person could explain what a Boolean is for an audience member who might not know. Or at least an image of what they’re coding as opposed to the brief references it gets. In the end that’s just nitpicky though. As long as the characters are entertaining enough, and they are, then it doesn’t really matter whether or not they explain what a Boolean is. Boolean is a fun word isn’t it?
As nerds, it would have likely been more appropriate to have to actual women be the programmers. So far on this show the only women (by my count), have been a stripper, a personal assistant, a girlfriend who only exists as a sexual object for the Incubator to talk about, a cupcake purveyor clueless about computers, a cheating wife (along with reference to another cheating wife), and a gossipy ex-girlfriend. Among them all it seems like the only rounded character is the personal assistant, and even then Monica has been wedged into being a potential love interest for Richard because these kinds of things always need one of those. I have female family members who are programmers. I have female friends who are programmers. Even if they represent a statistical minority (I wouldn’t call what comes out to ¼ of the computer programming profession a minority, according to Wikipedia), for them to be so underrepresented in this show is more than a little upsetting.
In the end though, it’s all just so heartwarming. A ragtag group of nobodies with enough skills and a good idea managed to bring it to the corporate overlords in a way you don’t get to see very often (or ever) in real life. It’s the American Dream! The dialogue all smacks of genuine conversation, and the way some characters can get really into even the most ridiculous train of thought, breaking out mathematical formulas and permutations in order to figure out just how far a stupid idea can go is really fun to listen to. Especially for a main character whose reclusive and timid stature cast a presence of childhood fears. Talking to girls, budgeting your first earned money, and most importantly, public speaking are all facets of life that we experience and have to grow past a fear of in the first two decades of our lives. Of course we never do because public speaking and budgeting are awful (girls you discover, not-so-much) but at least this can be here to remind us that it isn’t so bad in the aftermath.
Here’s hoping season two can keep up with its predecessor!
The clip we really want to show you (can you guess which one) is not embedable so follow the Link.
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