Review: Silicon Valley (Season 3, Episodes 1-3)

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Consistently funny, Silicon Valley is a damn good show, and its third season is shaping up to be even better

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The latest season of Silicon Valley started a couple of weeks ago, the third of HBO’s awesome-television-trifecta, alongside Game of Thrones and Veep, and its first few episodes have picked up exactly where the last season left off, both in terms of plot and painfully awkward yet ridiculously funny humour.

If you haven’t heard of it, or watched it before, Silicon Valley is a comedy series about a tech start-up in the eponymous Silicon Valley, home to Facebook, Google, and Twitter. Created by Mike Judge, who based the show on his early career in the tech industry, Silicon Valley is riddled with jokes about the industry itself, as well as clever pop culture references and moments of unbearable hilarity – the kind of cringe-inducing comedy perfected in The Inbetweeners or Meet the Parents. If you want a better idea of what the show is, imagine The big Bang Theory, but actually funny.

We re-join Richard Hendricks (Thomas Middleton), the show’s protagonist, just as we left him, having been removed as CEO of Pied Piper by the board’s new investors, with the main crux of this season looking to be Richard’s struggle to regain control of his company. Erlich (T. J. Miller), meanwhile, is having to deal with Pied Piper and its staff having finally left his incubator (his house), leaving him with no-one but Jian-Yang (Jimmy O. Yang), Erlich’s un-communicative Chinese tenant for company. Gilfoyle (Martin Starr), Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani), and Jared (Zach Woods) have no choice but try and help Richard as Pied Piper comes under new, and potentially disastrous, management.

On the note of disastrous management, the show’s biggest new character this year, and this season antagonist, is Jack Barker (Stephen Tobolowski), Pied Piper’s new CEO, a veteran executive who aims to squeeze as much profit from the company as he can, even if doing so sees him completely ignore the reason that pied Piper was founded.

The principal cast remain as brilliant as ever. Middleton’s bumbling incompetence leading the charge (such as it is) and taking on the brunt of most of the show’s more uncomfortable comedic moments with fantastic timing. T. J. Miller continues to do what T. J. Miller does best, being as loud, as overly confident, and as self-aggrandizing as possible, in the funniest way possible, at all times, including a memorable scene where he rattles off a host of “old-man jokes” in an attempt to intimidate the new CEO (he fails). Starr and Nanjiani keep up Gilfoyle and Dinesh’s incessant grumbling and back-and-forth insults, providing a kind of backdrop of humour that ensures the show is never not funny at any point, while Zach Woods steps up considerably this season; Jared stealing every scene he’s in with his complete lack of any societal function, from declaring that he’d much rather not have to live in a box again (and not feeling the need to elaborate on the first time he did), to delivering one of the most brutal, shockingly funny one-liners ever uttered, at the end of the third episode.

This season’s plot seems to be moving faster than before as well, as Mike Judge and the writers gather steam and really find their rhythm in these opening episodes, balancing the humour with narrative better than they did previously. As fun as it is to watch lots of scenes where all that happens are jokes, these first three episodes have been much more engaging and pacey, making the show feel like a very, very funny drama, rather than a straight up comedy.

All in all, the third season of Silicon Valley is pretty good, managing to hit levels of consistent-funniness akin to the best of the genre – It’s Always Sunny, Arrested Development, Seinfeld. While it might not be quite on the same level as those shows, it is definitely making a claim for being something of an underrated gem, and certainly for being one of the best shows on air at the minute.

Silicon Valley airs on Sky Atlantic, at 22:10 on Thursdays.

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A 3rd year English student who likes staring at all the pretty moving pictures. Also books, I suppose. I do take English after all

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