In late 2011 I borrowed a copy of The Social Network for an evening’s entertainment. My date, blaming an 80 hour week, survived only long enough to see Mark Zuckerberg compare Harvard’s female students to the Old MacDonald cast. Although her snoring wasn’t the greatest addition to Aaron Sorkin’s dialogue, it did allow me to second screen my own history with Facebook. Interrailing through eastern Europe with a couple of friends during our gap year’s second summer, we met a couple of enjoyable Americans who encouraged us to keep in touch via Facebook. It was four years after the social network’s launch and we’d never heard of the site.
Since most of the marketing emanating from southern California can be summarised as the promise to deliver your lifestyle a (first world-adjusted) Great Leap Forward, it is fair to wonder quite how far behind curve HBO’s Silicon Valley is. A new sitcom from Beavis and Butt-head creator Mike Judge and dubbed “Entourage for geeks”, the show follows six twentysomething members of California’s tech working class. Comedian Thomas Middleditch has the lead role of Richard Hendriks, who during his time away from his job at Hooli (a Google parody), has developed an app containing a potentially revolutionary data compression algorithm which might be worth billions. Completing the socially maladroit cast are Kumail Nanjiani, Josh Brener and Martin Starr as his fellow programmers and T.J. Miller as their ambitiously indolent landlord.
Judge skewered corporate culture in 1999’s Office Space and in his return to TV has shown himself to be equally adept at deconstructing the absurdities of anti-corporate companies. Much of the comedy comes from the shibboleths which are repeated as dogma from the show’s titans to its coders, and underpinning the entire first series is their sincere belief that reduced file sizes could change their, and your lives. Glorious exaggeration to anyone outside the bubble but still utterly dead-on. There might be the occasional missed gag about dynamic tesselation, but for the most part Silicon Valley is a bitingly funny character-driven satire that you won’t need to speak Python to understand.
Silicon Valley: Season 1 is available to own now