HBO’s second-most-popular returning show about shifting alliances and desperate, bold power plays in an unpredictable and vicious world on the brink of howling collapse came back last night. The second season premiere of Silicon Valley had 4000% fewer dragons than Game of Thrones and exactly two (2) fewer bare butt shots.

It was also about exactly as funny as Game of Thrones. Which is not super great, since Game of Thrones is not a comedy. This may be the first time I’ve ever wished that a television program be MORE like Entourage. What???? READ ON.

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“Sand Hill Shuffle” picks up a few weeks after we last left our gangly Pied Piper squad after their big win at TechCrunch Disrupt. Now they’re hot shit (“three-foot cocks” in Erlich’s parlance) which means they’re hanging at AT&T Field—yes, the very same field that Kanye West proposed to Kim Kardashian!—with the Winklevi and some other venture capitalists.

Richard is not interested in herding genetically superior rowers and wants to wait to make a deal with Peter Gregory, the tech billionaire who agreed to invest last season.

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will u still love me when i’m no longer young and beautiful

But it turns out Peter Gregory is dead. He is dead, even though he was the funniest and most compelling character on the show, because the actor who played him, Christopher Evan Welch, died. The show handles his death as well as it can. It’s always going to feel slightly gross when a television show has to deal with a real-life death, but the Silicon Valley team gives Welch’s character a memorable memorial send-off that actually furthers the plot, since Gregory’s death spurs Pied Piper to meet with other investors.

Richard has an uncharacteristic outburst at the first investor meeting. Turns out, Richard being a dick to the investors only makes them want Pied Piper more. Erlich figures out that investors have been negging Pied Piper as a negotiation tactic. Richard wants to know what negging is because apparently he’s never been on Reddit.

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“It’s a manipulative sex strategy used by male chauvinists,” Human Elbow Jared explains to Richard, which is believable because you know Jared has The Game downloaded somewhere but not so believable because you know Richard has clicked through to a PUA forum at some point.

And so begins the episode’s funniest bit: Erich starts a negging campaign where he acts like an asshole to potential investors in a series of meetings, eventually slapping his ballsack on the table.

Erlich’s dickishness works, and they get huge funding offers, culminating in Gregory’s company offering them way more than they asked for. But wait! Gregory’s assistant Monica sneaks back to the Palo Alto handjob pad to tell Richard not to take her company’s offer; she explains that it’ll screw Pied Piper in the long run because the app will always get associated with being way overvalued, and it’ll never be able to hit realistic benchmarks. Richard lowballs his own offer to get Pied Piper a valuation that won’t make it look like a disappointment in the long run.

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I am glad the writers are giving Monica something to do, but I hope she doesn’t hook up with Richard. The dude’s defining feature is that he looks like a sad baby deer with a narrower dick circumference than a “light days” tampon. He’s got the worst case of Unsexy Boring Protagonist I’ve seen in years, possibly in my lifetime, and yes I have seen Dawson’s Creek.

a portrait of the coder as a young man w/ a tapering penis

But not to get off the topic of the show’s meager supply of female characters before I actually get on it: Gregory’s eccentric billionaire character is replaced by a ~woman~ venture capitalist. Unfortunately, the new boss Laurie Bream (Suzanne Cryer) is introduced in strokes so broad it’s like the writers decided to base an entire character off the the Wikipedia page of Lean In and the WebMD description of Aspergers. It’s as if they used the same socially-awkward savant template they used to create Gregory’s character but forgot to include any specifics.

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Silicon Valley got flack last year for not having good female characters. Some people were like “but that’s what it’s really like lol” and other people were like “why can’t Hollywood challenge tech’s retrograde gender politics instead of mirroring it lol”.

I get why there was disappointment that a show that was able to adeptly satirize tech culture in many ways seemed to approach tech culture’s most gaping wound—persistent, systemic sexism—by relegating female characters to the sidelines. But. But! Shoehorning in a knockoff lady-Gregory is not the answer.

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blame it on the b-b-b-b-bechdel test

Like, Entourage was a steaming heap of dog diarrhea pissed on aggressively by a troupe of feral cats and left out to bake in the sun. But at least HBO’s first show about a motley crew of male friends tryin’ to make it in California owned what it was. If the Silicon Valley team is going to feature female characters, it needs to do a better job than this, or take a page from Vincent Chase and at least try to make its chauvinism fun.

Silicon Valley is successful as a television show that highlights the absurdities of northern California’s tech sector. It’s a lot spottier as a comedy, though. When it’s on, it can churn out gold—I loved Erlich’s sickest meeting burn: “Your logo looks like a sideways vagina. I find that to be racist.” Somewhere, an Airbnb graphic artist weeps. I laughed. In one line, Silicon Valley satirizes crappy app logos and the outrage media cycle about crappy tech logos. That’s impressive.

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Unfortunately, it’s one of the few standout lines this episode. I don’t think comedies do or should live or die on their jokes per minute—not every show needs to be 30 Rock. But there was a certain flatness to the ballpark opening and a few other scenes that drags the episode down, and it’s never good when you replace your funniest character with a broad knockoff meant to quell criticism more than generate sharp satire. But we’ll see. To use its terminology, I don’t think Silicon Valley is on a full down round.

Stray thoughts:

  • What happened to Big Head? (He wasn’t actually a very good character, I am just curious.)
  • This episode needed way more Gilfoyle and Dinesh.
  • Also, wait, can you send people Garrett’s Popcorn? I want Garrett’s Popcorn.
  • Snapchat’s ur-bro Evan Spiegel has a cameo where he insists that everyone remember that Gregory didn’t think Snapchat was a disappointment during his eulogy. I found this VERY funny but now I’m not sure if it was actually funny or if I’ve just spent too much time thinking about Snapchat’s prospects as a viable startup and it’s warped my sense of humor. What did you guys think?

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Honestly I don’t know if this was funny or not I am a shell of my former self.