Silicon Valley came back for its fourth rendition as Richard and the gang try and make something out of something using code and computers and maybe a telephone or two, making glorious failure once again.
There will be spoilers for season 4 of Silicon Valley in this review.
I like Silicon Valley, it’s a funny comedy which has a lot of smart writing and more often than not the jokes land. The characters are on the whole likeable and have a great dynamic with each other. The subject matter is interesting and the parody of the tech industry and those who work in it is fantastic. Despite all of that I’m not really sure where the show is going and that concerns me.
The biggest problem I have with Silicon Valley is that they are telling the same story over and over again. Essentially every season of Silicon Valley has the guys do something promising, only for something disastrous to happen where it looks like it could be catastrophic for the company, only for them to be saved at the last moment through chance.
It’s an incredibly cyclical formula which is hurting the show terribly and quite honestly it is very lazy from the writers. The laziness is even more apparent when you consider that they used this exact formula more than once this season. They did it with PiperChat, they did it with the guy who sued Richard and they also did it with the new internet, that’s not good and clever plot, it’s called shit.
When you set yourself up as a high brow comedy, where plot is supposed to play a big part to what is happening, you can’t go about doing the same thing over and over again and expect people to ignore it because the other parts of the show are good. I felt after watching season three that the idea that the guys wouldn’t have made a ton of money by now was kind of silly, as time goes on you have to question why this apparently great group of coders can’t make more than a dime?
It sounds like I don’t like the show when in reality it is one of my favourite comedies currently on TV, the problem I have with Silicon Valley is that it should be so much better than it is because it is being held back by poor plot. If you are going to run a comedy where things actually happen then actions have to have consequences. Silicon Valley does this thing where they constantly tease consequences but never actually deliver, so the plot hasn’t actually moved much beyond where they were in the first few episodes of the first season.
The other big criticism which can be made of Silicon Valley this season is that season 4 will be the last where Erlich will be involved. I wouldn’t say that Erlich is my favourite character (Jared all the way!) but he is one of the best ones on the show. He is never really relevant to the plot, he sort of plays on the fringes, often doing his own thing and working off of the other characters. Whereas as Dinesh doesn’t work without Gilfoyle (and vice versa), Erlich is the sort of character who can interact with anyone and make magic.
It’s a shame the manner in which he was written out of the show because it doesn’t feel like the sort of send off such a big character deserves, so many story arcs were left unresolved. It’s as if his ending was written on the fly because they were sure if TJ Miller was coming back or not, as it turns out he decided to call it a day after falling out with one of the producers, in what is a real blow for the show.
Erlich’s interactions with the other main characters isn’t really huge, so in a sense the little plot which the show has shouldn’t be overly affected. Where Erlich is at his best is his ability to join all the fringe characters together to the wider goings on of the show. Erlich and Big Head, Erlich and Jian Yang, these are two of the best pairs in the series. You know that the screen time they have together is always going to be a good laugh and without Elrich’s mannerisms it really doesn’t work. Yes Big Head (who as always disappeared for most of the season) and Jian Yang could maybe create that chemistry with one of the other characters, but the trend is that where Erlich goes chemistry follows.
I have been pretty down on Silicon Valley after this season and although I think my points are valid it is harsh on the show because it has many good qualities. There are several very funny episodes in this season, Customer Service, Terms of Service and Hooli-con were all top episodes. There were plenty of top moments this season as well, such as Dinesh as PiperChat’s CEO, Big Head falling into a lecturing job, Jian Yang’s Seefood app, the phones exploding, Jared’s ignoring illegal activity and the tussle between Gavin and Barker.
Silicon Valley is genuinely a really good comedy, the problem is that it isn’t going anywhere. Richard is still a dick who self sabotages his company because of his own pettiness, the Pied Piper guys are still wallowing away despite their considerable talent and now they’ve lost one of the best characters who brings a lot of comedy to the show. It’s frustrating to see what is potentially a fantastic show spin its wheels and not go anywhere. Unless the writers start to get more direction with the plot I struggle to see the quality not dropping, there’s only so many ways you can tell the same story before people start to notice.
So what did you think of Silicon Valley season 4? Are you fed up of the cyclical nature of the plot? Do you think I’m being too harsh and should mellow out a bit? Or are you just wondering what the bar wench looked like? Well leave a comment and share those thoughts.
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