Mike Judge is nothing if not consistent.
His films "Office Space" and "Idiocracy" and his cartoon series
"Silicon Valley," which Judge created with "King of the Hill" writing partners John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky, is his first live-action series. It begins at 10 p.m. Sunday on HBO and, in its deceptively modest way, is a great one. In the marketplace, Judge's work tends to start slow and gather a cult.
Concerning a pack of young software writers suddenly making a noise in the new tech gold fields in and around Palo Alto, it is in some respects a sequel to "Office Space," which set the style — naturalism shading into the surreal — for a generation of cubicle comedies. It also shares its milieu with the more romantic Amazon series "Betas," though not its attitude, which is typically dry and skeptical.
Judge, who has a degree in physics and has worked as a programmer, lived briefly himself in Silicon Valley in the late 1980s. But he quit the startup he moved there to join to be the bass player in a blues band, which tells you, really, everything you need to know. Music led him to Texas, where he studied some more math and, in a kind of Road to Damascus moment, got interested in animation, which led him to "King of the Hill."
Thomas Middleditch plays Richard, who lives with fellow coders Gilfoyle (
"It's weird," says Belson, looking down on his campus. "They always travel in groups of five, these programmers. There's always a tall skinny white guy, short skinny Asian guy, fat guy with a ponytail, some guy with crazy facial hair and then an east Indian guy. It's like they trade guys until they all have the right group."
Although it does not exactly describe the show's core group, it does comment on the show's lack of women;
That it is in fact the case that, for a variety of bad reasons, women are underrepresented in this world does not mean that they could not be realistically included here. But it is also true that, notwithstanding a great creation like "King's" Peggy, Judge is most interested in stories about men, or, more to the point, about guys, and how they get on.
It is in its way a western, a New West western, a story of men not quite without women, but not really with them — not comfortable with them, anyway. Their approach to sex, and to the opposite sex, commingles fear and respect in a way that's almost refreshing.
"I didn't even shake a woman's hand until I was 17 years old," Dinesh says when Erlich brings the above-mentioned stripper into the house. "The idea of getting an erection around men I live and work with is just not something I can handle."
At times, it has the structure of an old Army film, with Erlich as sergeant, albeit one who takes his own unreliable directions from psychotropic drugs. It is also a little bit of a
These sturdy structural models give the show a grounding in which the shifting relations among characters —money changes everything — profitably flourish. The cast members — mention should be made of Zach Woods as a business advisor — have presence but do not push the jokes. "Silicon Valley" is a comedy, certainly, and a very funny one, but it doesn't spend all its time reminding you of the fact.
When: 10 p.m. Sunday
Rating: TV-MA (may be unsuitable for children under the age of 17)