Mike Judge’s “Silicon Valley” Nails Startup Culture

The startup world has been abuzz over Mike Judge’s new comedy “Silicon Valley,” and for good reason. We’re so often portrayed terribly in the media; take a look at Bravo’s “Start-ups: Silicon Valley” for a great example. I refuse to post a link, so you’re going to have to google it. However, “Silicon Valley” may be the exception to the rule, mainly because Judge has a great track record of poking fun without letting us forget the humanity of his characters.


And god knows there is plenty to poke at in Silicon Valley.


The Clothing

Oh, the hoodies. Mark Zuckerberg, I will never forgive you for starting this trend. As a woman who would gladly summit to the return of little white gloves and hat when leaving the house if it meant the men around me dressed like Don Draper, I must say: you’ve done the world a great disservice, sir.


The first time we see our main characters, all three are clad in the requisite hoody, even though they’re attending an acquisition party of an app that was just bought out by Google for more than $200 million dollars. Richard – the lead, played by Thomas Middleditch – rocks a particularly dull grey one through the first half of the episode, only upgrading to a non-hooded, no zipper “fancy” sweatshirt when he has a meeting with the head of fictitious tech giant Hooli.


Second only to the hoodies are the “witty” shirts, like the one stating “I Know HTML: How To Meet Ladies” that hacker house owner Erlich (T.J. Miller) sports.


Stop it. Just… Stop.


The Social Awkwardness

From Richard’s vomiting from a panic attack when two investors are fighting for his company to Dinesh (played by Kumail Nanjiani) checking out a dating site for people with Asberger’s, the social ineptitude of the tech world is on full display. In the first few minutes we’re shown a bigger crowd on the couch in front of big screen videogames than in front of the stage where Kid Rock was performing IRL.


This is despite the fact that the only place we spot women in almost the entire show is in a little cluster near the stage, high heels strapped on, with a force field that the dweeby tech boys can only dream of penetrating. Seen only from behind and at a distance, the women may as well exist in another galaxy, one that the boys unfortunately cannot access on their game console.


Big Head (played by Josh Brener) wraps up the sex-segregated social awkwardness best: “Every party in Silicon Valley ends up looking like a Hasidic wedding.”


The Cult

The tech giant in Silicon Valley, the show, is called Hooli and it’s a pretty clear parody of Google. With bike meetings, “voluntary” retreats, and smaller (although better equipped) buses for employees, Hooli sets fire to everything the tech world holds sacred.


Best of all is their leader, Dan Melcher (Jake Broder), a Messiah-like character who makes grandiose statements about how his company “can only achieve greatness if first we achieve goodness” while slideshows of his humanitarian work flash by. In the waiting room before meeting him, everyone tells of how amazing Melcher is in the tone of voice normally only employed by people who end up in matching sneakers when the comet is going overhead.


The Truth

Richard sums it all up nicely near the end when he’s trying to convince his co-founders that taking $200k in exchange for 5% equity is better than $400 million up front.


“For thousands of years, guys like us have gotten the shit kicked out of us. Now, for the first time, we are living in an era where we can be in charge and build empires,” he declares. And it’s true. His earnestness is refreshing and reminds you that, yeah, most of these dudes really are the little guy. While his next sentence declaring that they “could be the Vikings of our era” places us firmly back in Mike Judge territory, no one can deny that the hooded boys of Silicon Valley are truly changing our world.


Photo Credits

Garry Knight