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'Silicon Valley' Delivers Smart Nerd Humor

By Jac Kern · April 16th, 2014 · Television
ac_tv_siliconvalley_photo-jaimie truebloodPhoto: Jaimie Trueblood

Move over, Sheldon. The Big Bang Theory may have helped popularize or mainstream “nerd culture,” but Silicon Valley (10 p.m. Sundays, HBO) keeps it real with sharp wit, spot-on tech references and just a touch of social awkwardness — the makings of any true geek. And it’s no wonder — co-creator/-writer/-director Mike Judge (Office Space, King of the Hill, Idiocracy, Beavis and Butt-Head) pulled from his experience as a programmer in the ’80s to deliver a funny but thoughtful current look at the start-up world without relying on tired clichés.

Silicon Valley follows a group of guys — Richard (Thomas Middleditch), Big Head (Josh Brener), Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani) and Gilfoyle (Martin Starr) — living in a start-up incubator owned by laidback dotcom millionaire Erlich (T.J. Miller). When Richard’s music app Pied Piper turns out to have an incredible algorithm behind it, the tech company he works for unexpectedly offers $10 million to buy him out. Meanwhile, billionaire venture capitalist Peter Gregory (the late Christopher Evan Welch) recognizes the long-term value and offers a smaller but sizable investment for a stake in the company, which Richard ends up accepting. Now the guys must adjust to the entrepreneurial life: working under tighter constrictions, producing a business plan (even if that means Googling “business plan”) and, this week, dealing with competition.

You can’t make a show about uber-intellectuals without smart humor, writing and style. At the same time, Silicon Valley does anything but take itself too seriously, delivering consistent laughs and an interesting look at this burgeoning subculture.


Workaholics (Season Finale, 10 p.m., Comedy Central) – Adam, Blake and Ders celebrate their friendship anniversary, but a big fight threatens to make it their last.


Parks and Recreation (8:30 p.m., NBC) – After hiding one of Amy Poehler’s actual pregnancies on Parks and Rec, Leslie Knope is expecting! She and Ben attempt to keep the exciting secret under wraps.

Elsewhere, April juggles Andy’s birthday party gigs and Donna enlists Ron to handle her ex-boyfriend (Keegan-Michael Key).

Parenthood (Season Finale, 10 p.m., NBC) – Hey guys, remember Kristina and Adam’s other daughter who was at one time a very significant character? Haddie’s back, y’all, because not all Braverman kids flake out on college (cough, cough, Drew). We also meet Ryan’s mom and see if Sarah and Hank give it another shot.

Portlandia (10 p.m., IFC) – The mayor plans a Pride parade; Carrie’s brother and his boyfriend visit; Brendan and Michelle start their experimental drug phase as adults.


Hannibal (10 p.m., NBC) -– Dr. Lecter agrees to treat Will as a patient again, because two ulterior motives make a right? Unlike Alanna’s experience with Will, her fling with Hannibal is unfortunately more than a one-night-stand. She really knows how to pick ’em — into murder and mentally off the rails! Will’s also back in the field to work on a case involving a dead woman inside a horse.


Game of Thrones (9 p.m., HBO) – Another season, another epic wedding scene. Margaery and Joffrey’s post-nuptial bash turned into a murder mystery party — who is responsible for the most satisfying death of the series? And will Ramsay step in as the new most despicable villain?

Mad Men (10 p.m., AMC) – Giving Megan space, turning down an anonymous hookup with a hot brunette (OMG Neve Campbell) and now cutting back on booze — who are you and what have you done with Don Draper? This week more drama unfolds on both coasts; Joan and Peggy each experience a surprise encounter.


The Boondocks (Season Premiere, 10:30 p.m., Adult Swim) – Riley, Huey and Robert Freeman are back for a fourth and final season of this comic-turned-cartoon after four years off the air, this time without comic and series creator Aaron McGruder. Look out for McGruder’s new live-action series Black Jesus, also premiering on Adult Swim later this year.


The Mindy Project (9:30 p.m., Fox) – Mindy gives birth control pills to the daughter of a police officer (a big no-no) and a rabbi recommends the practice to his congregation because he thinks Danny is Jewish (another big no-no). This sounds like the start of a really bad joke: “A cop and a rabbi walk into an OB-GYN office…”

Chrisley Knows Best (Season Finale, 10 p.m., USA) -– I seriously love this ridiculous show.

Inside Amy Schumer (10 p.m., Comedy Central) -– Delusional diets, fancy hotels and therapy with Chrissy Teigen.

CONTACT JAC KERN: jkern@citybeat.com or @jackern



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