The line between satire and just accurately portraying The Way We Tech Now is very, very thin on Silicon Valley. “Runway Devaluation” has a plot that manages to be utterly silly and completely plausible.
The writers have the slick, rampant techno-corpo-speak down cold, and this episode’s send-up of dumb novelty apps and Kickstarter culture is ruthless, even as it keeps its comic premise entirely within the realm of possibility.
Dinesh is upset because he’s donating $5000 to his cousin’s Kickstarter, thinking that he’ll be flush after funding. His cousin’s project is an impeccably stupid Yo rip-off called Bro, so of course Jared is LOVING IT. (“It’s sexist, but it’s about friendship!”)
just a dude looking for a bro
This development is great because it lets Dinesh say Dinesh things, and it’s just...a thing that could be real. Never forget Hodor, the app.
Meanwhile, Pied Piper is in a downward spiral. Since Hooli decided to sue, all the VC firms tripping over their piles of money to invest are backing down. Raviga reneges on its offer until the lawsuit goes away, leading Erlich and Richard to slink back to all the the people they “negged” last episode.
I ragged on Richard last week for being an ur-dweeb, but Thomas Middleditch plays his intensely milquetoast introvert with intelligence and a commitment to cringe comedy. In the closing scene, when Richard is lured to a cheesy Mexican restaurant at the request of Gavin Belson, the emotions playing on his face as he contemplates Belson’s last-ditch acquisition deal give the character unexpected depth. Maybe there is a backbone somewhere under that slim-cut hoodie!
Or maybe we’ll open the next episode with the Pied Piper gainfully embroiled in Hooli’s slick corporate machine. Pied Piper’s fortunes are zigging and zagging this season and it’s impossible to say where they’ll end up.
Last week I lamented a lack of Gilfoyle and Dinesh, and this week delivered on the show’s strongest myopic comedy duo. It also doubled down on the ensemble comedy mode it works best in.
- Oh! I forgot that Michael Ginsberg (Ben Feldman) sufficiently recovered from his nipple-murdering Mad Men SCDP breakdown and is Richard’s lawyer friend. He’s so perfectly nerd-fratty I can almost forgive him for briefly starring in A to Z. Almost.
- RIP Big Head, apparently? Or maybe we’ll see him again if we end up back on Hooli campus.
- I’m still not sold on Laurie, the Peter Gregory Lady Replacement. We get one brief scene with her and Monica. Her tip to break the news that Raviga, their VC, would not be funding Pied Piper was laughably bad— basically, wear an ugly outfit to soften the blow. She’s still coming off like a loose collection of stereotypes about Asperger’s more than a person. I like that they gave her a gold iPhone though. I like to think she read an article about gold conveying power and just went with it.