Silicon Valley, the new HBO sitcom from Mike Judge, is hilarious, not because it makes fun of nerds, but because it doesn’t. Unlike say, The Big Bang Theory, which feels the need to exploit the quirks of its characters, Silicon Valley lets them simply be who they are, and the comedy flows directly from the world they inhabit. Judge has taken the developer world of social media and the craziness of startups and highlighted the real-life absurdity of nerds trying to be big players. The real clever trick is, he’s actually right.
Wall Street executives used to call the shots when it came to money, but the landscape has been shifting. A cultural revolution took place while Generation X were paying off their second mortgages and the Millennials not only took over, they redefined everything. Now all it takes is a little knowledge of coding and a lot of free time and anyone can become an instant Internet sensation.
It’s interesting that Silicon Valley premiered shortly after the release of The Wolf of Wall Street. The latter focused on a man who conned his way into millions of dollars through illegal actions, and the former is about a kid who turned down millions of dollars by writing math formulas. And yet, the two works are strikingly similar. Both feature an unlikely protagonist who happened upon a once in a lifetime situation in a world that functioned on limitless greed. TWOWS targets Wall Street, SV targets the obsession with startups and the next big thing.
Judge has created characters who are charming and funny, rounding out his ensemble cast with a diverse cast that could almost make any single member its lead. His greatest strength on display, however, is how he almost doesn’t even need to satirize this world, all he really needs to do is hold it up for us to see and the satire manifests itself. It’s a stroke of brilliance, a confident move not to overindulge or try to somehow explain and therefore pander to the audience in an attempt to tell us why it is funny.
And it is funny, really funny. There are two episodes out as of now and already I’m looking forward to it more than I am to Game of Thrones. (Yes, I said it.)
I wish more showrunners have the confidence to create a show like this that sticks to its guns and trusts in its audience, but for now, I am very happy with what we’ve got.