Silicon Valley, much like the place it depicts, is one big sausage fest. An “inclusive” tech conference is one where there is almost a line for the women’s bathroom and flirting involves some guy trying to exchange PGP keys with you.
So it makes sense that the show’s only main female character — Monica, the right hand of billionaire VC Peter Gregory — feels obliged to tell the crew of Pied Piper before they head to the battle at TechCrunch Disrupt that the place is a “vortex of distraction.” But it’s not the gizmos or other gimmicks, it’s the women.
“Normally, the tech world is 2 percent women, the next three days it’s 15 percent,” she warns gravely.
“It’s a goddamn meat market,” Gilfoyle deadpans.
The episode is all about how sparks fly when sex meets the single startup guy.
Some spoilers follow. Medium, though.
Tension has been building in the last few episodes as the nerd-do-wells prepare to demo for the penultimate episode of the first season, “Proof of Concept.” It’s like “regionals” for the coding crowd on the first season of Glee. And the Pied Piper kids are hitting all the high notes: After debuting as HBO’s biggest comedy launch since 2009, Mike Judge’s series was confirmed for another season. It’s Hollywood’s second recent effort to capture the ramen-to-riches startup saga for the small screen, and Silicon Valley has given a giant wedgie to Betas, earning an 84 percent Metacritic rating.
Good TV shows reflect something true about our lives, then they take that reflection and amplify it just enough to make it snort-funny. Let’s face it: Some weird things happen when you get brainy, competitive adult men living and working together with no real social outlets. This time, the conflicted bromance between Gilfoyle (played by Martin Starr) and Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani) takes another weird turn when they both fall for a booth babe at a startup called Cupcakely whose come-on line is, “Do you know Java? Can you help me?” Ultimately, Dinesh wants a girl for her mind. One who is as smart as he is, who can write beautiful code. And he can’t make his nether regions comply otherwise.
But that’s nothing compared to what happens to Richard (Thomas Middleditch), who, up until this episode, has seemed to live in some blissful prepubescent genius cocoon of asexuality. His aspie awkwardness is taken for stalkery obsession by a woman he went out on two dates with. She comes to TCD as part of her job with Yahoo! and is telling everyone about their failed romance. Convinced he’s right about the way he acted but unable to prove otherwise, he can’t focus on work, and his continuous talking about it only makes him seem truly obsessed. The situation only blows over when his intended mistakenly thinks he’s gay. Still clueless, he counters her remark about “staying safe” with how often he performs backups as she walks away.
Erlich, the Steve Jobs to Richard’s Wozniak, does manage to get some. And then some. You may wonder how a guy who sported a tee in the first episode that says “I know HTML (How To Meet Ladies)” actually pulls it off. But he does. Call it persistence, swagger or just being the only guy in the room convinced he’s actually gonna get some.
Maybe the most interesting male-female conflict happens when Monica (Amanda Crew) takes the reins over from Donald “Jared” Dunn (Zach Woods), the guy so awkward he makes even the other guys cringe. Jared, who has been wrangling the PowerPoints that were Greek to the programmers, is suddenly sidelined when Monica comes to town. She’s three steps ahead of everyone, and like the Ginger Rogers of yore, does it backward in high heels and with super-perfect hair. It ends in tears (not hers).
Episode rating: A-
Steve-on-Steve action: Woz doesn’t get mentioned this time, but Erlich sports an epic black turtleneck.
Cameos: Red Bull, everywhere. Brawndo, anyone?.