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'Silicon Valley' fan recap: Everyone wants to follow Pied Piper

Season 2 | Episode 1 | “Sand Hill Shuffle” | Aired Apr 12, 2015

Last night on HBO, a series premiere was broadcast. The show tells the story of a battle for power in a world where everyone is out for themselves, and would do anything to push others out of the way to get there. Sudden deaths, treason, and manipulation can happen at any time. And dragons? They don’t exist—because the program I speak of is Silicon Valley. Sophomore seasons can be tricky. It’s difficult to live up to a great debut season. But occasionally, they can really dig into a good story now that the origin story is out of the way.

In the cold open, we pick up right where season one left off: Many venture capitalists are wooing the Pied Piper crew after they won the TechCrunch Disrupt competition and Richard’s search algorithm was proven to the fastest. Ever. As in, the fastest search algorithm ever made. The venture capitalist firm Stern-Taylor has rented out the San Francisco 49ers stadium to throw the guys a party. Richard is still unformed in his hoodie and skinny jeans, the uniform of the techie. He feels guilty for letting all these other investors kiss their asses when they already signed with Raviga through Peter Gregory. Erlich doesn’t mind taking advantage of the attention, of course. We also get a Gilfoyle/Dinesh fight, where Gilfoyle claims he is the CTO (Chief Technical Officer) to impress a woman. He and Dinesh argue about the terms of a CTO so much that the woman ends up disgusted with them. Unfortunately, that’s the most we see them in the episode, but we’ll take whatever we can get.

Erlich and Richard meet their first investor. The investors are not impressed, and Richard comes back in and chews them out. Turns out this works, and the investors want them back. Erlich claims that “negging” their possible investors may be the way to go. Always helpful, Jared explains that negging is “going negative. It’s a manipulative sex strategy used by lonely chauvinists.” One could interpret this as commentary on the chauvinism seen in the tech industry, as the stereotypical “nerdy guys” are the ones who appear to use this jargon. Either way, they decide to use the strategy when trying to win over venture capitalist firms.

It works well. Almost too well. Ehrlich takes great joy in being a complete a-hole at meetings, insulting the paintings in the room, saying rude things about someone’s shirt, etc. Then comes my favorite insult: “One of you in this room is the least attractive person I’ve ever seen. I’m not going to say which one.” This is why T.J. Miller is great as Ehrlich—he can play obnoxious really well, but still be likable. He seems to be the alpha of the group, and by default, the emerging protagonist of the show, with Richard just following behind. Again, I hope that Richard gains some more agency, instead of just panicking and relying on Ehrlich and the other guys.

Then there’s the sudden death of Peter Gregory, Pied Piper’s first investor, in a bizarre safari accident, where he had a heart attack after running from an attacking rhino. This, of course, was the resolution of the sudden death of Christopher Evan Welch (the actor who played Peter), who died during the filming of season one. A grand event was planned for his funeral, in which the hottest and hippest of Silicon Valley were there to sing his praises: “How can you measure someone’s contribution to society?” Well, they have an actual algorithm to measure it, because this island of the techies.

Enter Laurie Bream, Peter’s replacement and a new managing partner of Raviga, and Monica’s new boss. Laurie is incredibly socially awkward, perhaps as awkward as Peter Gregory was. “Don’t you know you have to be good with people?” Monica asks her, which is true, but something I am sure Lauri—as a woman—was told a lot in her career rise. Actress Suzanne Cryer does a great job, and makes this bizarre but compelling acting choice to shift her eyes around everywhere but toward the person she’s talking with. It’s distracting and off-putting, meaning her acting goal is accomplished. Meanwhile, they make the best offer to Pied Piper, beating out the other would-be suitors.

Monica sneaks back later to tell Richard that he shouldn’t take such a big deal because he’ll have a high goal to reach in yearly performance, and should negotiate lower. Monica and Richard’s awkward sexual flirtation continues when she knocks on the bathroom window as Richard is urinating, but tells him she didn’t see “anything.” “Good,” says Richard, “because then you’d have to show me yours.” Yeesh.

Richard takes Monica’s advice and signs with Raviga, but for a lower price. Back at Peter Gregory’s funeral, Gavin Belson admits he let business get in the way of his friendship with Peter, and releases a gaggle of doves. At the same time, Richard learns from his lawyer that Gavin is suing Pied Piper, claiming that Huli had the idea for his algorithm first. Just like always, things seem to be going great, until another bombshell is dropped, setting them back. Sure, there needs to be dramatic tension, but I’d like to see an episode where Richard is not in panic mode.

Nonetheless, this was a strong start, and I like where it’s going. Seeing the guys run Pied Piper is going to be more interesting than seeing them try to start the company. I also like how the tech part of Silicon Valley does not distract from the plot; I don’t want it dumbed down, but I also don’t want to be tied up in the technical jargon. Besides, it’s not all that different from any other industry and story: There are power struggles, deception, hope, and misadventures. Except this show doesn’t have dragons. Good.

Silicon Valley airs Sundays at 10/9C on HBO.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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