Silicon Valley is a strange show. About a small startup in Silicon Valley, it combines some very well observed humour with a struggle for an IT company that I actually cared about. The only problems come from the occasionally frustrating plot.
Thomas Middleditch plays the lead, Richard Hendricks, and it’s this lead character that’s the main source of my occasional frustration. He’s just so honourable that he keeps almost flushing his company away. Despite the best efforts of his friends and co-workers, Richard’s insistence on doing the right thing is the main reason his company is on shaky ground at all.
Richard comes up with an algorithm for compressing data that’s a huge leap forward for the industry. For those a little less tech savvy, that would mean you could have a lower bandwidth connection to the Internet and get the same performance. You could pay less and get 4K video over your Internet connection anyway.
However, his interpersonal and business skills are lacking, so he keeps allowing people to walk all over him. And each time he does, it puts his company in jeopardy. He signs punitive contracts, gives away stock without needing to and tells people things they don’t need to know. It’s the equivalent of letting the opposition sports team score against you so they don’t feel bad.
And that’s not a problem when the main characters come up with a way to get out of it themselves. However, sometimes they win just through circumstance that feels all too much like deus ex machina. Something beyond their control just happens to be done in a way that they win anyway.
Another hitch is Richard’s complete inability to learn from his mistakes. His company is on the verge of being taken from him almost every week, yet he never learns to become more cautious.
Enough of the downsides, though, what about the humour? The comedy is where Silicon Valley keeps me watching. While it’s not a straight comedy, there are occasions when I had to pause the show because I was laughing so hard I’d missed what was being said.
Jared/Donald is the standout for me in terms of comedy. He’s such a perfect character, from his withdrawn personality to his business acumen. He’s often right, but just as often ignored because he’s so shy and accommodating. I guess I like him because I used to be him, although I’ve learnt to be more assertive as I’ve grown older.
The rest of the cast are great as well, of course. Each character brings something to the comedy table that helps make Silicon Valley one of the few scripted comedy shows I still laugh out loud at.
Overall, season two kept much of the great moments of season one. In season one, Richard solved his problems himself, where here he had them solved for him, so I have to dock them a single star for that. I give Silicon Valley season two 4/5 stars and would recommend it.
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