Silicon Valley 1×06 ‘Third Party Insourcing’: Back to old habits

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Although this week’s Silicon Valley was decent enough TV fare to keep me entertained, the show again starts to fall back on the tired old cliche of the high school whiz kid, with guest star Austin Abrams doing a convincing portrayal of Kevin “The Carver”, hacker extraordinaire.

The episode opens strong with Richard’s irreverent but straightforward doctor, played to perfection by Andy Daly, telling Richard that he has aged forty years in the last seven weeks. The reason? Richard has hit a snag with the programming of Pied Piper. It’s an interesting focus for the episode, because up till this point, the obstacles the characters have faced have mainly been external conflicts – people who need to be persuaded, money that needs to be saved, etc.

Now, Richard’s faced with a much more complicated dilemma. He knows himself to be a good programmer – in fact, he considers programming the only thing he’s good at. And yet, at the crucial moment in his career, when his programming ability is what should guarantee him success, he hits a snag. It’s a good plot conflict to use, and it ties in well with the overall storyline.

And of course, the only advice his doctor can offer is to tell him he should have accepted the ten million dollars – which apparently has to be brought up by someone in literally every episode of Silicon Valley. I understand the need to establish continuity and to show the magnitude of the risk Richard took, but the ‘You should have taken the ten million!’ line got old very fast.

The Pied Piper gang decide to bring in outside help, despite Richard’s protests. Of course, this help turns out to be a typical arrogant high school hacker who can solve Richard’s problem in the space of a weekend, with a little urging from Mello Yello and Adderall. I was disappointed with this ‘twist’ – I use the term sarcastically – there were so many more interesting possibilities for the story to branch out into, and they choose the most formulaic method possible.

Source: HBO

Source: HBO

Back at the house, the boys meet Gilfoyle’s girlfriend Tara. Cue the unnecessary sexist overtones, the surprise at how ‘different’ the house feels with a female presence in it, Erlich referring to Tara as ‘that’. As a female viewer, I’m always disappointed at how it seems like Silicon Valley just assumes its audience is male and tailors all their jokes around this idea. There’s a lot of potential in the show, but I can’t fully enjoy it until it gets rid of these ‘Wow! It’s a female!’ plotlines.

To put this into perspective, Dinesh’s comment about how the house feels different with a woman in it is something men have been saying since the 1700s, when women weren’t allowed to board ships because it would anger the sea gods. It’s rather depressing to think that a show airing in 2014 still can’t get past these preconceptions.

Overall, this episode of Silicon Valley played out pretty much just as imagined. Despite good jokes and one-liners here and there, the episode flagged because of its insistence on using an overused trope and not really doing anything amazing with it. With two episodes to go before the end of the season, hopefully Silicon Valley can pull off something more original to keep viewers interested.

Oishee Shemontee

Oishee Shemontee

is a college student who is always too tired to study but never too tired to watch another episode. She loves reading and playing trivia games, and her life’s goal is to one day shake hands with J. K. Rowling. Netflix is both her best friend and her worst enemy, and she has yet to discover enough self-control to log out of Tumblr. Follow her here!

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