Silicon Valley, Season 2, Episode 7, “Adult Content”
Written by Amy Aniobi
Directed by Alec Berg
Airs Sundays at 10pm ET on HBO
Who knew that Silicon Valley would be the type of show to sit down and have a grand moral discussion about ethics in business?
Actually, it makes sense when one stops to think about it. For as much as the show splits up the cast into Richard/Erlich A-plots and Dinesh/Gilfoyle B-plots, with Jared playing utility man, the core of the show is still the interaction between all of these characters. So having them all sit down to discuss what they’re going to do about End Frame gives the show an opportunity to have its main cast play off of each other. Gilfoyle gets to dryly ask a series of “What ifs”, Erlich righteously declares that he alone increases porn traffic on the internet by one percent, Richard and Dinesh get to vacillate between shock and supposed moral authority, and Jared is there to provide background information. It’s a good scene that gets to the heart of what makes the show enjoyable: Easy chemistry resulting in banter that’s either hyper-nerdy tech speak or insults, like calling someone a “fucking king-sized asshole.”
Meanwhile, outside the incubator, the show’s resident one-percenters are having a bit of rough week. Gavin Belson is trying to convince the Hooli board that the company can still save face after the disastrous preview of Nucleus, and Russ Hanneman is having an emotional breakdown because he lost one of his commas. Both characters only have two scenes in the episode, but accomplish a lot with their limited screen time. Belson is in full-on tech-CEO-bullshit mode as he tries to convince everyone around him that Nucleus’ massive public failure is actually a blessing in disguise, leading him to literally declare via PowerPoint that “Failure=Success”. There is no better summation of Silicon Valley’s satirical view than the suggestion that Silicon Valley’s leaders and head dreamers have no idea what they’re doing, and simply convince the world otherwise. Sure, anyone can think up the idea of earbuds that allow you to control your phone with your brainwaves, but it takes some courage to actually do it.
Russ Hanneman represents the other side of Silicon Valley’s satirical blade, as he is in complete and total panic mode now that he “has to start spelling billion with a m.” There is no more childish a problem than whining and complaining that one wants more, even when they have more than enough. Silicon Valley, says the show, is an environment that awards this childish behavior, encouraging its people to go on massive days-long tirades about how a billionaire’s car doors should open like this, not like that, like this. Chris Diamantopoulos simply goes on a tear in his two main scenes, flapping his hands around and dialing up Russ’ playboy lunacy to eleven. It’s a wonderful performance that sells the inherent parody of the character without ever making Russ feel like a caricature.
But Russ’ need to “rebillionize” forces Pied Piper to convert to a sales model, leading Richard to walk the left hand path into the wide open arms of the porn industry. Thanks to Gilfoyle’s sticky fingers, Pied Piper knows what End Frame’s biggest sales contract is, and decides to get back at them for stealing their algorithm by poaching said contract. This leads Richard to attend a conference for the adult entertainment industry, home to such illustrious companies as My Dirty Vagina, Brutalized Asshole, and Poop On My Wife, so he can entice the head of the company End Frame is trying to sell their services to by claiming he can do a better job, and comparing the porn industry’s need to do whatever it takes to survive with Pied Piper’s. This does more than simply give Silicon Valley an opportunity to show a wide-array of electronically operated dildos on stage; it puts the story back into competition mode, as Pied Piper and End Frame will now enter a “bake-off” to determine who gets the contract. The best stretch of season one were the episodes that took place at TechCrunch Disrupt, because it gave the show stakes that were both immediate and ridiculously high. Now that the last episodes of season two will have to deal with a bake-off AND CES, Silicon Valley has setup the perfect set of circumstances to go full-throttle insane in the coming weeks, and with this show, that is always a welcome experience.