I Have Some Thoughts About the Upcoming HBO Series Entitled ‘Silicon Valley’

by robinhardwick

HBO has yet another scripted series coming out, because, why not, all anyone ever does is talk about cable television shows on twitter and everything (ok, I’m generalizing.) Here’s the trailer:

I suppose it has some things going for it. I’m really trying to find what those are. It’s a show that features more intellectual characters and not just guys with swords and dragons. The talent in it is great; Martin Starr is criminally under-recognized and Thomas Middleditch is a UCB improvisor I have admired forever, so…great for them.

Mike Judge, creator of Office Space, one of the most-quoted-by-your-dad film, is the creator and writer. So, he’s…writing a show about a workplace? Not too original. Way to stretch your creative muscle. I also suppose he thought writing about the “booming tech industry” was way current and topical. Unfortunately, just as quicky as apps come in and out of style (seriously, remember when we were all about Foursquare?) there is no way that even producing a show six months in advance of airtime will make it current. And making a show about Silicon Valley automatically makes it a thing, a thing that is supposed to be captured in this show. Sure, Mike Judge can make it however he wants, but it is supposed to catch the zeitgeist of the era, and no show has ever been able to do that. (I would argue that Girls does come close, but I would be attacked with a million think pieces and open letters.)

And then there’s the big, glaring, grotesque reason: we do not need another show about the lives of white men. We just don’t. It’s already saturating everything we watch, and it’s just getting more and more to be a slap in the face. I used to be on the side of “well, it’s a great idea that just happens to include white people,” but I have gotten past that rationalizing, especially when it is an obvious fact that women and people of color are out there, are fucking talented, and are constantly pitching stuff, but there stuff isn’t even been given a chance.

I don’t want a non-white men show to fill some quotas; I am serious when I say it’s just not interesting anymore. Sure, one show they are working in Silicon Valley and the other is that they are cooking meth or chasing zombies or in Congress of whatever, but the breadth of the human experience is sorely missing. Please don’t point out to me that Kamail Nanjiani is on the show, because seriously, that is one person out of five men on the poster that is not a white man.

There’s also the obvious truth that there are women in the tech industry at all levels of power. Sure, the numbers are not equal, but that is because of systemic racism that things like this show help perpetuate. Sure, okay, have a show about Silicon Valley, because it’s a hot topic, but please have some goddamn decency to open your eyes and see that this is not representative of the actual thing. Is it absolutely necessary to have all these characters be men? In every show, does every plot need to revolve around them peeing while standing?

Sure, I haven’t actually seen the show, but a trailer, and one of ninety seconds, is supposed to entice me to see the show,by actually showing me the essence of the show. And this shows me that the only woman shown in the trailer is a stripper. Nice job, well done. Maybe there is a female lead in the show that plays a big part, but didn’t put her in the trailer because I don’t know, didn’t want to scare off the guys who may watch the show, because of fuck, there’s a woman in power on the show, me not like!

There’s also an aspect of the casting that bothers me, in the way the “typical nerd-look” is present in Middleditch, Zack Woods, and Martin Starr. Who are all great, amazing, good-looking, comedic actors in my opinion, but definitely have the opposite of what a “leading man” typically looks like. On the one hand, that is great; let’s break away from society-mandated standards of attractiveness. However I’m also nervous that the only-nerdy-loser-guys work in tech trope is going to be present, and perhaps it turns into a the “hey look at these weird nerds” mentality of Big Bang Theory.

And finally, to those who respond with “just don’t watch it,” or “it’s just a television show,” kindly fuck off and learn how to engage in a dialogue about how culture impacts society. Television is such a fabric of what our society dictates you’d better believe it has an impact. Especially of those of us, (i.e., close to 80% of America) who once again have a show that does not have any characters who are like us.