TV Spot: Silicon Valley

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The HBO comedy “Silicon Valley” pokes fun at struggling coders as they try to start a new company, while also presenting important issues in the tech industry.

Over the course of the first four seasons, Richard Hendricks (Thomas Middleditch) and his team of coders struggle with starting their own tech business, Pied Piper, in Silicon Valley.  

Working in a Silicon Valley startup gave co-creator Mike Judge background about the people and companies in the area. His accurate portrayal of actual Silicon Valley culture has led to the show receiving critical acclaim.

Despite being a comedy, and a vulgar one at that, it brings attention to many issues in the tech industry.

First of all, it brings up the difficulty of starting a company and managing to keep that company afloat. Richard encounters many issues such as lawsuits, lack of funding and competition against bigger companies. These factors cause him to undergo tremendous stress and develop numerous health problems.

During the first season, he frequently throws up due to stress. In the second season he has night sweats, also due to stress. In the fourth season he even shrinks an inch because of malnutrition. While these issues are often exaggerated for comedic value, they do occur in real life, especially in highly competitive areas like Silicon Valley.

Another issue it covers is patent trolls. In the show, a man sues Richard for his company idea by using a very broad patent, and tries to extort him to pay $20,000 or else face trial, which would be much more expensive. This is a common issue today in the real world, where people similarly use overly broad patents to make money off of unjust lawsuits.

On top of all that, large companies will do anything they can to prevent smaller competing businesses from succeeding. In the show, smaller startups like Richard’s face lots of pushback from the corporations in the form of lawsuits and attempted buyouts. Hooli, a large internet corporation, tries to buy Richard’s company multiple times over the show, and when Richard consistently refuses, Hooli resorts to more illegitimate tactics like filing baseless lawsuits because Richard can’t afford it.

Despite covering many serious issues, the show still remains light-hearted and fun, although not family friendly. But if you’re looking forward to start watching, get ready to wait. Each season only has 10 half-hour episodes, and season five of the show is set to premiere in 2018. With season four of the show already over, “Silicon Valley” was nominated for eight Emmys this year.