[For Silicon Valley or any other refreshers on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]
Essentially, Silicon Valley tells the story of five software engineers, characters with fantastic interactive quirks that bounce them in every direction and drive the killing pace of their compression company startup, Pied Piper. The excitement continually builds around them because Richard Hendricks, the creator of Pied Piper, invents a phenomenally efficient software that compresses data so insanely fast it makes nerds gasp just to hear the Weissman score, a compression speed measure concocted by a Stanford professor just for the show.
Thomas Middleditch as Richard Hendricks
Part of Silicon Valley’s authenticity arises from our reluctant hero, Richard, who doesn’t have any more of an effing clue about this world than we do. Not only does he not initially even understand the value of the very thing he created until billionaires fight over it… he doesn’t deal well with that windfall either. But because this is Silicon Valley he becomes a CEO anyway.
T.J. Miller as Erlich Bachman
One of the greatest TV characters right now, Bachman fancies himself a best-of-blend between Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Yes he smokes pot. No he doesn’t code any more. But Bachman fills every gap at Pied Piper with relentless charisma and confidence, even in the face of certain disaster. Bachman’s technical role on the show begins and ends with his house, though, the incubator for Pied Piper (and otherwise den of depravity).
Kumail Nanjiani as Dinesh Chugtai
Dinesh, originally from Pakistan, specializes in Java and hating his co-CTO, Gilfoyle. They’re in constant battle with Dinesh always winning the sarcasm award. Still, the tension between Dinesh and Gilfoyle often shifts into friendship, sometimes hinting at even more.
Martin Starr as Bertram Gilfoyle
Originally from Canada, Gilfoyle styles himself as an online security expert and ardent Satanist. He wins the practical joker award and keeps the co- CTO battle with Dinesh raging hardcore… in a fun way.
Josh Brener as Nelson “Big Head” Bighetti
Lacking in any semblance of basic skills but lucking out at every turn, “Big Head” represents the lucky charm of Silicon Valley and Richard’s life. He’s a rabbit foot rather than a real man but, hey man, he’s got a boat and you don’t.
Zach Woods as Donald “Jared” Dunn
Cheerful politeness personified, Jared’s enthusiasm would be contagious in any other environment but here he’s dismissed daily. He’s the business end of Pied Piper and came to them from the satirical Google analogue, Hooli, sacrificing an elite level career track and stock options for the thrills and gumption of starting from scratch with Pied Piper. Jared’s the kind of guy who gets a charge out of balancing budgets and thus, a veritable startup savior.
Amanda Crew as Monica Hall
Monica is the archetypal sage of Silicon Valley, advising Richard with heartfelt and accurate advice. There’s strong sexual tension between them, and Monica seems to be the main love interest of the show. Part of what makes her so attractive is how thoughtful and brilliant she remains no matter what the circumstances. It’s a refreshing breeze of strength.
Matt Ross as Gavin Belson
The main nemesis of Pied Piper throughout seasons one and two, head of Google stand-in, Hooli Gavin represented the vengeance seeker against his greatest competition for compression software. But at the end of season two Gavin’s loses his role at Hooli. This likely means he’ll seek a more personalized brand of revenge in season three.
Suzanne Cryer as Laurie Bream
CEO of Raviga Capital, Laurie’s all business metrics, dead eyes, and bland expressions. Raviga owns a large stake in Pied Piper and season two ends with Laurie finagling three board seats on Pied Piper next to Bachman and Richard’s mere two seats. So, we’re left with the cliffhanger of Richard getting unseated as CEO from his own company.
A satirical version of the actual valley where we feel rather at home thanks to a cluttered and relaxed everyday atmosphere. Much of this homey feeling comes from the settings, which seem authentic even as the characters experience heart palpitating anxious states. These result from the high stakes of million dollar valuations coupled with characters who don’t have a clue about much beyond their highly specialized expertise.
Bachman’s House AKA “The Incubator”
Unassuming and available, Erlich Bachman’s house serves as the mainstay location of the show. Whether it’s a workplace comedy or a nerdy technology version of every single sitcom ever made, this show happens here because they work, live, sleep, and play here. It’s a dump. Incredibly messy and always busy, Bachman’s incubator feels like home.
But as you can see from this action shot, they mostly work. Luckily, witty dialogue keeps it fun and exciting even though these software engineers sit at computers most of the day. You will laugh your ass off, that’s a certainty. Yes, we’ve all heard stories about startup geniuses in their twenties faced with million dollar decisions. But what if that genius wasn’t just rich and successful, but funny to boot? What if they were more like a best bud or brother… Somebody you actually know? That’s what this show feels like. It’s as if you’re in the mix. Silicon Valley pulls you into their startup world in order to hold you there enchanted and laughing all the while.