Last night HBO debuted Silicon Valley, the new sitcom from Mike Judge, and it was glorious. Judge takes the same insight he used to astonishing (and Nostradamas-like) effect in Idiocracy and turns it to the cancerous tech culture that has turned California's Bay Area into such a joke the show barely needs to satirize these assholes.
Late stage capitalism is a scary place to be, but it's also profoundly silly, and Judge sees that. He understands that these dopey, wonky, greedy assholes and their delusional thinking are both sinister and goofy, and he lays them bare. From the opening party - Kid Rock playing to a handful of disinterested tech geeks who can't talk to women - to the surreal bidding war for the Pied Piper algorythm, Judge lets the reality of the techies be his weapon. Just look at the fucking shoes Hooli CEO Gavin (Matt Ross) wears.
That satire could sustain a sketch, but can it keep a TV show afloat? This first episode shows that Judge has more than just skewering tech yuppies on his mind. He's created a core cast of characters who already are distinct and lovable, from Thomas Middleditch as Richard, the lead whose algorithm could change the world to Martin Starr's Gilfoyle, a Lavey Satanist with theistic tendencies. Also living with them in the 'incubator' are Big Head, Josh Brener, and secret weapon Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani), who delivers deflating one liners with surgical precision. Lording it over these guys is blowhard Ehrlich, played by TJ Miller as a self-aggrandizing jerk with just enough of a sliver of nice guy to make him tolerable.
The pilot takes aim at everything from brogrammers to the weird belief techies have that their scalable database infrastructure compiling program could solve world hunger. I was laughing constantly, at everything from spoken jokes to the on-point decorations at Hooli HQ. Silicon Valley debuts at the exact perfect moment as people in the Bay Area begin to rise up in revolt against these tech creeps (look at recent attacks on Google employee buses). The sickening code culture - a geeky version of 1980s Wall Street boom - is boiling over with absurdity, and MIke Judge has been taking notes.
And just in case you missed it or don't have HBO (why wouldn't you have HBO? I don't want to hear about your feelings on cable TV, that was a rhetorical question), the network has put the entire first episode on YouTube: