As tensions between San Francisco natives and tech grow, HBO's new comedy, Silicon Valley, premiering on April 6, 2014 may be exactly the kind of levity this "cradle of innovation" needs.
Champion of the everyman, Mike Judge, known for his work on Office Space, Beavis & Butthead and King of the Hill, paired with Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm writer, Alec Berg, to create Silicon Valley.
Judge says, "I was interested in doing a show about Silicon Valley because I lived there. I got my degree in physics; I did some programming; I worked as an engineer for close to two years," which, he is not afraid to say, left him less than enchanted with the industry.
Yet, it's one thing to be disenchanted and another to be displaced. As the tech boom raises rent prices and changes the landscape of San Francisco at the cultural level, locals struggle to find humor in the situation.
This timely satire targets "rampant dueling billionaires" while humanizing "socially awkward types" (e.g. anyone who would wear a shirt reading: "I know H.T.M.L. How To Meet Ladies"), which may allow natives to see techies in a more light-hearted light.
Just as Office Space expressed the pent-up frustrations of cubicle dwellers in 1999, Judge's look at "the Hollywood of tech" may inspire similar rebellion among a generation of so-called "open office" workers and may result -- with any luck -- in a few smashed iPhones.
This eight-episode series was filmed in Palo Alto, and follows a group of young software developers who live and work together while trying to launch a software platform that could "change everything." But Bay Area viewers need not fear yet another ode to Steve Jobs. Not even hallowed TED Talks -- lofty lectures by innovators for innovators -- are safe from the writers' jabs.
According to HBO's description, "In the high-tech gold rush of modern Silicon Valley, the people most qualified to succeed are the least capable of handling success." The cast, however, has never been more primed. With a list of credits ranging from cult classics to blockbuster hits, comedy specials to a video game podcast, there is no better group of actors and comedians than Thomas Middleditch, T. J. Miller, Zach Woods, Kumail Nanjiani, Martin Starr and Josh Brener, to play these roles.
Although it's too soon to make a judgment on the representation of women in the series, it's safe to say that males dominate in Silicon Valley, much like the real world industry it lampoons.
Here's a quick look at what you can expect:
Silicon Valley premieres Sunday, April 6, 2014 on HBO. For more information, visit HBO.com.
Funding for KQED Arts is provided by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
Support is also provided by Yogen and Peggy Dalal, Diane B. Wilsey, the Kenneth Rainin Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Helen Sarah Steyer, the William and Gretchen Kimball Fund, and the members of KQED