It should be no surprise that Mike Judge, who brought us such satirical classics as “Office Space” and “Idiocracy,” has once again hit home with his latest venture, “Silicon Valley.” The breakout HBO comedy has resonated with audiences not only for its great actors and brilliant writing, but also for its surprisingly accurate, if not somewhat absurd depiction of the tech industry and start-up culture.
From eccentric investors to socially inept engineers, the show draws many of its laughs from reality. Here are a few examples of “Silicon Valley” as truth in television.
There is a prevailing stereotype that much of Silicon Valley is filled with brilliant people who excel at their technical craft, but struggle with socializing and interpersonal skills. This is most notably exemplified with the central protagonist Richard Hendricks (Thomas Middleditch), an awkward introvert who couldn’t land a date with a girl until the show’s third season.
According to Co-Executive Producer Clay Tarver, many of the show’s characters were heavily based on Silicon Valley archetypes. In an interview with TechCrunch, Tarver discusses billionaire venture capitalist Peter Gregory (Christopher Evan Welch), whose strange behavior and mannerisms obscure his genius. In one scene, Gregory inexplicably orders every item on the Burger King menu in route to securing a $68 million profit for his company.
“We wanted to show a character who’s brilliant, immensely curious and yet terribly awkward with people,” says Tarver. “A lot of tech billionaires seem to have this vibe and we wanted him to personify this. You can see elements of a lot of big names in him.”
Sadly, the character’s appearance was limited to the first season after actor Welch succumbed to lung cancer.
It’s a ruthless world in Silicon Valley. With countless companies all vying for success, founders and entrepreneurs are challenged with convincing investors why their company stands above the crowd.
In the first season episode, “Fiduciary Duties,” Richard’s lawyer explains why billionaire Peter Gregory has his hand in a number of similar ventures.
“Do you know how sea turtles have a ****-ton of babies because most of them die on their way down to the water? Peter just wants to make sure that his money makes it to the ocean,” he says.
Company rivalries also present the possibility of foul play. Another episode sees Richard being questioned by a competitor on the specifics of his compression algorithm. It soon becomes clear they intend to use it for themselves.
The parties in Silicon Valley can be awkward, to say the least. This was captured beautifully in the series opener, which featured Kid Rock performing a concert before an audience that didn’t seem to know, or care, about who he was.
In 2013, famed Wu-Tang Clan member GZA made a cringe-worthy appearance at the Crunchies. After being introduced to the crowd as the mispronounced “Gizza,” the rapper took the stage to a smattering of random cheers and awkward silences.
As cocky entrepreneur Erlich Bachman (T.J. Miller) says in the show’s pilot, most of the people at these events are more interested in networking than partying. After surveying the night’s attendees, he declares, “Kid Rock is the poorest person here.”
It’s clear that a lot of work when towards delivering an authentic portrayal of Silicon Valley. In a response to a question on Quora, series Technical Consultant Adam Goldberg praised the production team’s commitment to accuracy.
“I think the incredible thing here is that the entire production team is really passionate about ensuring the accuracy of the series,” Goldberg writes. “They consult with someone knowledgeable about virtually everything that appears–they really want it to be so that you can pause the screen and see a reasonable code in a recognizable editor, or hear accurate terminology when discussing term sheets.”
With the show approved for the fourth season, here’s hoping the show continues its trend of authenticity.