'Silicon Valley' Season 6: TV Review

HBO
The battery still charges!
10/25/2019

HBO's great sendup of technology and the people who work in it kicks off its sixth and final season — and will be missed.

The sixth and final season of HBO's Silicon Valley brings with it a sense of sadness, as the loss of any great comedy is a solemn affair, but it also still seems sprightly, ridiculously funny and, as ever, au courant.

The hallmark of Silicon Valley is that it knew early on what an enormous and bountiful target the tech world and all of its people would be for a comedy, and rarely wasted a minute skewering the companies, CEOs, coders, tech bros and the entirety of the otherwise ridiculously rich workforce (plus the dreamers who didn't get their share!) of the actual Silicon Valley. 

It should come as no surprise then that this final season opens with an idea that's gold as soon as you speak it — Richard (Thomas Middleditch) has to speak to a Senate committee (along with Facebook, Google, Amazon and the fictional Hooli) about data mining. He's so good in front of a crowd. What could possibly go wrong?

And not only is it funny — it keeps with the series' tradition of being eerily timely and sometimes prescient about the world it's satirizing, as Mark Zuckerberg's high-profile Washington, D.C., testimony in recent days can attest.

The ending of all good series is sad, too, because we're losing our TV friends. People love shows for the characters more than anything, and there's still something about Gilfoyle (Martin Starr) and Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani) going at it — especially when they act out with coding wars that end up causing distress (which happens to a small extent in this last season but was a thing of beauty in season four, when we learned that hacking a smart refrigerator on an open Internet could be problematic). It's still fun to watch Gavin (Matt Ross) melt down or Laurie (Suzanne Cryer) be blunt with her feelings and, especially, Jian-Yang (Jimmy O. Yang) do almost anything.

The Silicon Valley cast has always been strong and through the years it has cleverly expanded its minor characters and their ticks and flaws will be missed. HBO only sent out three of the seven episodes for this season so there's no telling yet — and yes, it's probably unlikely — whether T.J. Miller's Erlich Bachman will ever turn up again (he's been declared dead but is allegedly in Tibet, mostly against his will). But you can't give up hope. Despite the rancorous fallout that Miller had with executive producer and writer Alec Berg (including saying, "I will never be on Silicon Valley again") and the allegations of inappropriate on-set behavior, there's no getting around the fact that Miller was great in the role and the character was consistently funny.

It's nice to know, watching these three episodes sent for review, that Jared (the wonderful Zach Woods) is getting a solid storyline that, by the third episode, is paying off beautifully. Others are similarly highlighted, and you can't help but smile when they show up, even in small doses, like Big Head (Josh Brener), still clueless as ever. In those moments, you don't want it to end.

Silicon Valley has proved to be an enduring comedy that a number of episodic writers have had a field day with — meaning, a lot of people have taken swings and they've connected, precisely because the formula that Mike Judge (who is still directing a lot of episodes) and Berg, along with John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky, implemented is a strong one: The premise is great, the characters are well-defined and the world that it's lampooning keeps offering up never-ending material. 

But all things come to an end and, in these Peak TV times, shorter is almost better (we'll see more shows go three and out in the future than we'll see going five or, in this case six; besides, Silicon Valley only had eight episodes last season and seven this season, and maybe that's a sign of fatigue). 

All three of the episodes are very strong and that's a good sign heading to the exit. You can cherish all the Gilfoyle moments, the Jian-Yang moments, Richard's continuing foibles, etc., and hope that a series of minor characters will get their cameos. 

If feels like Silicon Valley has been there as long as the Valley itself has, which is really the best compliment. It captured that entrepreneurial sense that early techies had about changing the world, while simultaneously spoofing how real money warps the world they live in. The noted excesses of tech companies supplied Silicon Valley with some hilarious material (that continues apace, by the way) and the show was always there when some new wrinkle needed to be addressed — this last season seems to be putting an emphasis on tech evil as Richard and Pied Piper try to set free a new, better, people-powered Internet that isn't so Facebook- and Google-reliant. 

(And yes, just as Gavin Belson can never be trusted any time he's actually trusted, it's probably unwise to think that Silicon Valley will allow Richard's more glorious and sainted version of the Internet to not be spoiled — early episodes already hilariously skewer that notion; we can't have good things).

But as Silicon Valley bows out, it's not just the beloved characters and the comedic checks and balances that will be missed — it's the feeling that once the show ends something huge will happen in the tech world and we won't have a series that knows exactly what to do with that information.

Cast: Thomas Middleditch, Kumail Nanjiani, Martin Starr, Amanda Crew, Josh Brener, Zach Woods, Jimmy O. Yang

Premieres Sunday, Oct. 27, at 10 p.m. on HBO