We’re the lucky ones. We’re the generation who are able to look at something so well done that all we can see are its flaws. What sort of sorcery has taken over pop culture that entrusts our clearly inept society with such a gargantuan undertaking? If your answer was the internet, fuck off, it’s a rhetorical question. Claims of a mass migration towards television under the banner of “The New Golden Age” have taken hold of internet trolls, writers, and purveyors alike. Television has far surpassed its expected quota of excellent programming all leading up to this week’s recap and setback that I would now like to call the “Silicon Valley Quandary” or SVQ for short.
Since the remarkable “Optimal Tip-to-Tip Efficiency” season one finale, we’ve gotten nothing but excellent writing and story-telling from the Mike Judge team. But, it comes with a caveat. The last few weeks I’ve brought up the problem with the Silicon Valley dudes and their inability to make anything work for longer than an episode. Their enormous intelligence is no match for their bumbling, dimwitted personalities, and it’s infuriating. When we tear back all the shiny jokes and well written material, we’re left with the same meandering garbage that has dominated entertainment for so long, many don’t even notice it anymore. Stay with me on this, I promise, we’re getting somewhere.
This week’s “Bachmanity Insanity” was yet another bump in the road when it came to the dudes’ lives. Rather than bask in the glory that is their impending success, we see them working overtime to completely self-destruct. It’s in their nature because it has been written in their characters. We tune in week after week to marvel at the carnage and hope for the best as our favorite characters navigate a no win situation. We love it because it consistently works at a level in which we are just disconnected enough to laugh at the humor, but close enough to empathize and hope for the best possible outcome. Which, is by all means the definition of insanity. As the dudes keep working and chipping away at their problems, they fall into the same patterns using the same solutions packaged differently but with the same core. It’s a perpetual race to the bottom.
Since their lives are constantly on the brink of destruction, it came as no surprise when Erlich spent all of Big Head’s money on one party that no one will remember a week from now. That Richard met a nice, human woman who would have been kind enough to let him climb on top of her and engage in consensual relations were it not for his incessant need for perfection as defined by him. Or that Dinesh, having met a nice, crazy smart woman, ruins the whole flirtation because he’s afraid of her flaws, only to showcase every single one of his. These character traits and quirks are of course what drive them in their professional lives, marking them as human as they mirror situations we as an audience can relate to. The only exception seems to be Jared, “that guy fucks”. He’s the only character who is constantly at rock bottom by not his, but others hand, and yet as he sits there he does not wallow, he thrives. As odd and off putting as he can be, living in Erlich’s garage he’s able to court and copulate with gorgeous women adding a scary precision to Russ Hanneman’s earlier observation about Jared’s character.
So we sit here with our SVQ wondering, what is there to be done? Do we accept this surface level gem so kindly given to us by the makers of titillating television? Or do we continue the search and avoid the pretty packaging of old hat tricks and trials previously led by the ghosts of television’s past? Clearly we’ll choose the former as we’ve been trained to enjoy self-destructive humor. We can’t help it, we’re only human, after all. As we creep through these next four episodes into the season three finale, one can only hope that there will be a reprieve to the constant lacking of self-preservation these characters seem to embody. Between Laurie’s inability to feel human feelings, Monica’s throwing her hat into the race as an ally for the dudes, and all their raw talents, there’s no reason they can’t make it out of the start-up crevice and into the cut-throat business of running a business. Next week’s “To Build a Better Beta” looks like a taster of such madness.
While it may feel tiresome to continue pointing to these flaws, it’s important to remember that we are what shape entertainment. If we pay too much attention to garbage, it will follow us into our graves as our flesh eating proverbial monkey. But if we question the validity of “thought provoking” humor (or drama for that matter) we keep things fresh, and moving. After all, what is a “Golden Age” if not a starting point for something greater?