Please send the kids to the neighbors’ before watching HBO’s profanity-drenched “Silicon Valley,” but don’t judge the show by its language.
Oh, and if you’re a “Silicon Valley” fan and you haven’t seen all of season three yet, go away now, bookmark this page, and come back later.
Created by Mike Judge (“King of the Hill”), the Sunday-night half-hour comedy manages to be really profane — but not at all violent, or sexual, except in isolated, fairly tame moments — while also being strangely wholesome.
The show follows the adventures of (Episcopalian) engineer Richard Hendricks (Thomas Middleditch), who’s attempting to create, launch and get funding for a company with the unfortunate name of Pied Piper. It’s based on his revolutionary algorithm that compresses huge files into an easily movable size (if you’ve ever tried to email photos or a video, you know what I mean).
Along the way, if Richard has remained true to himself and his ethics, he has ultimately succeeded. But if he tried anything shady — like using pilfered information to try to wrest away a deal with a porn company from an unscrupulous competitor — he failed spectacularly (while also deleting one-third of the porn company’s premium content, which counts as a win in my book).
Season three ended tonight, June 26, with the resolution of the storyline that began at the end of season two, when Pied Piper’s chief investor — which dominates the board — fired Richard as CEO of his own company.
As Richard struggled to survive the humiliation, even attempting to move to a new company, he clawed his way back to the CEO position. But, having regained the big chair, he discovered that the thing that he’d expended all of his hopes and dreams on was a dud with the general public.
In the season finale, once again, when Richard is faced with doing something wrong to advance his interests, it explodes in his face. But, an unlikely savior appears — Erlich Bachman (T.J. Miller).
A bombastic entrepreneur who cashed in on his own company and now rents out his home as an “incubator” for startups — including Pied Piper — Erlich is mostly a pompous buffoon, a poser and a serial failure. But, as the incubator owner, he did own 10 percent of Pied Piper and sat on the board. Every now and then, though, a bit of nobility bubbles up, and he occasionally, almost accidentally, saves the farm.
In the penultimate episode of season three, having gone broke, become a joke all around Silicon Valley, and had a serious confrontation with Hendricks, Erlich was hired on as Pied Pipers’ head of publicity.
In the finale, encouraged by a uptick in people using the Pied Piper platform, Erlich, through a serious of elaborate mind games with tech entrepreneurs and venture capitalists (or “VCs”), manages to secure a huge new funding offer for the company.
Even though fellow Pied Piper engineers Dinesh (Kumail Nonjiani) and Gilfoyle (Martin Starr) — an avowed, if apparently harmless satanist — are all for pushing forward, fake users or not, Richard is torn. His faithful sidekick Jared (Zach Woods) — who is at once naive, sweet, very odd and extremely business savvy — warns him that it would be fraud to accept the funding offer.
When Richard counters that, money in hand, they’d make it work, Jared — who, in desperation to help Richard, bought the fake users in the first place — says:
Richard, don’t weaponize my faith in you against me.
Causing Richard to retort:
Every time I try to do the right thing I get f****ed. And if I do the right thing here, we’re done.
Meanwhile, a plot twist leaves the broke Erlich in possession of an unexpected windfall. But when Richard can’t go through with the funding deal — while actually in the room with the contract in front of him — Erlich learns the uptick in users was fake.
For a second time, Richard leaves Erlich angry, humiliated and wounded.
With Pied Piper on the rocks, the investment firm forces a sale, and it looks like the whole thing will go to Pied Piper’s chief rival, megacorporation Hooli. That sale will include a new video chat app that Dinesh created, which starts to take off just as everything is falling apart.
In the end, though, Erlich and his clueless new business partner, Richard’s best friend, Nelson “Big Head” Bighetti (Josh Brener), relinquish the remainder of their funds to outbid Hooli by a dollar to buy Pied Piper.
So, with ownership returned to its creators, and the new video-chat app percolating along nicely, Pied Piper — along with Richard’s integrity — is saved.
Laughed at, scorned, mocked and derided — and not always without reason — Erlich forgives Richard, having performed an act of self-sacrifice (admittedly, not without a possibility of future profit) to keep evil from winning the day.
In the world of “Silicon Valley,” good is rewarded, albeit after much suffering, and the temporary triumphs of evil eventually turn to disaster. Can’t ask for better than that.
I also particularly enjoyed what Erlich said in the season premiere — directed by Judge, and written by him and co-executive producer Dan O’Keefe (“Seinfeld”) — to someone he felt had betrayed the company:
I believe the actual Judas had the courtesy to kill himself after betraying his leader, Jesus Christ. He’s the CEO of the world, ever heard of him?
Can’t wait for season four.
Image: Courtesy HBO