Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Silicon Valley, Almost There

I'm all in on Silicon Valley, which won a solid bronze medal in my 'favourite new show of the last year' rankings (behind stiff competition in Orange Is The New Black and Brooklyn Nine-Nine) despite a couple of notable flaws.  At its base, the premise of spoofing modern tech culture by watching a fledgling start-up, uh, start up from nothing is a solid one, and when you add to it Mike Judge and a bunch of funny actors who I like, I'm sold.

As noted, there are a couple of flaws in Silicon Valley, yet these two birds can be killed with one stone.  The problems…

* the incredible Peter Gregory eccentric billionaire character had to be written off when actor Christopher Evan Welch sadly died of lung cancer.

* Amanda Crew's character (assistant to Peter Gregory) had nothing to do in the thankless role of voice of reason/straight woman/only competent person amidst this gang of weirdos.  I use the word 'character' loosely since Monica basically wasn't a character as much as she was a token female.  Even worse, the season finale hinted that she and Richard could become a couple, only underscoring her token-ness (token-tude?) even more given that she and Thomas Middleditch have less than zero chemistry.

So what's to be done?  Sadly, we can't bring Welch back from the dead, unless Judge has access to a time machine.  What we can do is help fill his character's void by more or less making Monica into his character.

The problem with Monica is, as mentioned, she's the only sane one amidst the group of Pied Piper idiots, yet since she technically isn't in the company, I already envision the risk of her being the deus ex machina to bail the guys out time after time.  Much of the show's comedy comes from the guys being in over their heads, so why not give Monica some of that mojo by putting her in over her head by suddenly having her as the billionaire behind Pied Piper?  Next season's premiere can begin with Gregory's sudden death, and the surprising revelation during the reading of his will that he left his entire fortune to Monica.  She's flabbergasted, and now finds herself trying to run a vast business empire that was specifically attuned to Gregory's weird habits.  The Pied Piper guys, meanwhile, suddenly lose one of their support planks as Monica is increasingly busy with the larger business and can't spend any time helping them with their myriad problems.

Funny enough situation, eh?  Be sure to spell my name right on the cheque, HBO!  (There's only one 'q' in Question Mark.)  Having someone vaulted into the world of tech corporate ownership seems like a natural avenue for satire, and Silicon Valley has been killing it left and right in poking fun and this world.

Eight episodes in and I have no idea if Amanda Crew is funny or if she can even act, which is a testament to how underwritten her character was on a show where almost everyone else from main cast members to bit parts got plenty of opportunity to be funny.  While there's nothing necessarily wrong with a male-centric show, the fact that Monica stands out as such a glaring weak link only highlights the fact that Judge's work generally reduces women to straight roles (with the major exception of Peggy Hill).  Monica can still be the sane one in comparison to the Pied Piper guys just because they're all messes, yet that doesn't mean she can't be funny herself.

Fix this issue and boom, Silicon Valley gets even funnier.  I mean, man, what's not to like about a show where grown men can threaten children with impunity?  "You just brought piss to a shit fight" is the line of the year.

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