Over the course of its first four season, I’ve been a fan of Silicon Valley, the HBO comedy created by Mike Judge, John Altschuler, and Dave Krinsky, but there’s always been one aspect that I’ve found really frustrating – by the end of each season it seemed as if that gang behind Pied Piper hadn’t gotten anywhere further from where they started. Of course, I understand that trying to launch a tech company with revolutionary technology won’t ever be as easy as 1-2-3, yet it becomes kind of irritating when a show that is full of eccentric characters and hilarious gags about the business world that’s reshaping our world remains static. Season Five of Silicon Valley bucked that trend, and it finally seems that Pied Piper is moving forward, though not without a few setbacks, naturally.
At the conclusion of Season Four, Gavin Belson (Matt Ross) had just given away a patent to Richard Hendricks (Thomas Middleditch) that can be utilized in creating an entirely new decentralized internet. Then Belson, the mastermind of the tech giant Hooli, ran off on a spiritual retreat, landing in the same Buddist temple as the loudmouth layabout Erlich Bachman (T.J. Miller, who left the show at the conclusion of last season). Belson stranded Bachman in an opium den and returned to the world of tech in order to face down his rivals, namely Hendricks and Pied Piper who are chasing their new ambitious tech with the financial backing of Laurie Bream (Suzanne Cryer), a cold and calculating venture capitalist, and Monica Hall (Amanda Crew), a familiar face who has been behind Pied Piper since the beginning.
Now Pied Piper has a new office, new coders, and a whole new set of problem to add to the typical list of setbacks they’ve encountered before. Richard Hendricks still struggles with being the face of a hot company, speaking publicly often triggering crippling anxiety attacks. Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani) and Gilfoyle (Martin Starr) are still engaged in their endless rivalry, which has a certain level of brinksmanship to it. Trying his best to keep everything running smoothly is the reliable and awkward Jared (Zach Woods), aka Donald. Not only does Pied Piper have to contend with its own roster of oddballs, they face an array of complications from the vengeful Gavin Belson, the scheming former roommate Jian Yang (Jimmy O. Yang), and even from their own financier in Laurie Bream.
Over the course of these multitudes of ups and downs, Silicon Valley gleefully lampoons so many aspects of the tech world. Season Five of the Emmy-nominated comedy tackles the blockchain and cryptocurrency, tech bros who have squandered their billions, artificial intelligence, tech companies strong-arming companies and governments, foreign and domestic, for absurd breaks in producing their products, and how those who drive Teslas can’t shut up about their shiny new electric car. All in all, this seasons of Silicon Valley proves to be one of the strongest – finally pushing its characters and their company forward while never losing sight of all the oddballs and eccentrics that populate the fringes of the tech world and supply the series with countless laughs.
The departure of T.J. Miller and his lazy blowhard Erlich has proven to be rather liberating for the show, and fortunate as this season wasn’t bogged down by dialogue of his off screen behavior. The show which, as I mentioned earlier, struggled in finding ways for its characters to progress was able to progress by losing its most static, unmovable character. Even though the rest of the characters are basically the same weirdoes that we initially met, the loss of Bachman gave the team of writers more room to work with the already established roster of coders and the show is better for it.
Over the course of Silicon Valley’s acclaimed run, the show has received numerous nominations. Most of these nominations have been for the show’s writing and direction. Season Five shows that it’s time for the actors of Silicon Valley to honored for their work. Previously, only Thomas Middleditch had secured an acting nomination for his work as Richard Hendricks. With Season Five, it’s time that Silicon Valley’s soft-spoken MVP Zach Woods garner his share of awards nominations. Woods’ Jared is not only the anchor for Pied Piper but the anchor for Silicon Valley, often getting the funniest lines which Woods delivers each and every time with pitch perfect timing and delivery. There’s an a-matter-of-fact demeanor to Woods’ delivery that often means some of his most outrageous lines require a double take, as if you can’t believe that Jared (or Donald) just said that – this season includes a few allusions to perhaps a dark chapter in the character’s past that involved male prostitution.
I’d be lying if I said that was I fully onboard with Silicon Valley heading into this season. There was a bit of apprehension on my part, as I wasn’t sure that after so many funny season with such little progress if the show would ever start moving forward or just continually spin its wheels. Silicon Valley is moving forward, alright. Season Five is perhaps the best season of the show and has moved everything – the characters, Pied Piper, the comedy – forward and ensured that I’m fully onboard for the sixth season whenever it debuts.
Returning for its fifth season, the HBO comedy Silicon Valley is injected with new life as the Pied Piper gang finally makes some progress in their quest to remake the world of tech and features some incredibly funny performances, most notably by the series’ soft-spoken MVP Zach Woods.