HBO’s Silicon Valley came out of left field a few years ago, airing just after each episode of Game of Thrones’ fourth season. Now airing its own fourth season, Silicon Valley has managed to stand on its own as a draw for HBO subscribers without the aid of Game of Thrones, which has been pushed back later in the summer.
Even back when it was first airing, Silicon Valley felt unique. On the surface, the toilet humor, weed jokes, and awkward interactions that are commonplace in many other comedies is present here. However, when digging below the surface, Silicon Valley is actually quite different from most other comedies.
Silicon Valley thrives off of two specific themes in its jokes: self-awareness and parallelism. This show knows exactly what it is and it completely rolls with it. The writing, acting, and ad-libbing are incredibly stereotypical of various comedies out there, which is done on purpose with a unique twist. It knows it’s a comedy and it has a lot of fun with the various character archetypes they play around with and the self-fulfilling prophecies that occur as a result of these archetypes.
The parallelism of Silicon Valley is something that isn’t really evident until moving beyond the first season. In each and every successive season, the same basic plot is reused. The team has a new idea that Richard gets very nervous about, Bighead gets an amazing new deal with his life, the team squabbles over how to operate, Gilfoyle screws over Dinesh, Erlich does something really stupid but somehow saves it, Hooli tries to get involved but it backfires on them, and the team prevails due to a combination of dumb luck and Richard’s technological prowess. However, instead of being done in a generic way like with The Hangover trilogy, it’s done quite intelligently.
This parallelism of plot is entirely intentional. As part of the self-fulfilling prophecy and self-awareness I was talking about earlier, Silicon Valley has fun with each of these plot points. This is always done in a new way that always manages to be funny no matter how many times I’ve seen the same thing happen. In fact, starting up a new season is very exciting for me because I’m eagerly anticipating how Bighead will get some ridiculous social stature for doing nothing and what stupid thing Erlich will get himself into next. I know what’s going to happen but I have no idea how or why it’ll happen nor will I know how ridiculous it’ll be, in a good way. What makes every season so much fun for the audience is how much fun the actors and writers have with this self-aware parallelism. They even reference this style of humor a few times in the most recent episodes. It turns out when the people working on a fun comedy have fun with the comedy it ends up being pretty good.