We have a lot to thank Silicon Valley for. The ridiculous lengths it goes to lampoon the tech industry, Zach Woods’ den-mothering sexual magnetism, the most mathematically sophisticated dick joke ever.
Which is why it pains me to say that TJ Miller’s unceremonious exit interview was exactly on the nose. This season, particularly the latter half of the season, fell flatter than Hooli stock prices after their predatory COPPA scandal.
In his exit interview, Miller, who plays the lovably self-centered Erlich Bachman, highlighted the cyclical nature of the show – Richard is working his way to be CEO, muddles through tragedy and misfortune to achieve it, feels unfulfilled, leaves. Deus ex machina rinse, repeat, ad nauseum. The rest of the interview is equally amazing, even if it’s less insightful, not only because he proceeds to put a few of his coworkers on blast but also because he waxes poetic about the bright future of talking emojis.
But TJ Miller is right. Silicon Valley is becoming a little too staid. As much as I love the characters and the dialogue (and that opening comment about Zach Woods suggests I do), those bright spots and cleverness can only take a show so far without an actual, meaningful plot.
Though landing a role in The Emoji Movie might not be the best reason for leaving a hit television series, I think TJ Miller did end up stumbling derriere-backwards into the correct career move. The show is getting stale, and he’s getting out.
His decision is quickly becoming mutual for this viewer.
I read a good number of articles on how Silicon Valley is at a crossroads – it has the potential to turn Richard’s character into the perfect anti-hero. With the last part of the season hinging on a scheme to download malware on all the phones at HooliCon to save Richard’s decentralized internet, the moral downfall of Richard seemed complete.
Now? The character built on never compromising his ideals has lied to his friends, committed crimes, slept with another man’s fiancee, and took repeated advantage of Big Head’s naïveté.
The show is slowly, surgically removing its own heart.
From shifting focus away from the brimming potential of Monica’s storylines toward cheap racist Jin-Yang jokes to turning Richard’s woe-is-me misfortunes into the fulcrum of the show, Silicon Valley is taking a scalpel directly to its chest.
At some point, Richard is going to have to take responsibility for his own actions, and if the show could manage a dark comedy with a Breaking Bad-esque lead, that would be fabulous. Instead, what we’re getting is an oddball comedy with cheaper and cheaper jokes centered around the rotten core of a character who blames everyone but himself for his flaws. And it’s getting pretty hard to care about Richard, the character who flails helplessly and spits venom at anyone who tries to help him.
Silicon Valley is at a crossroads, and maybe it’s best that Erlich is spending the rest of the series high out of his mind in a opium den. It’s probably easier than witnessing the series’ slow-motion trainwreck.
TJ Miller is right. God help us all.