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HBO's Silicon Valley is 10 years old. Here's why it's still one of the best comedies ever.

"Okay you know we're making a lot of money, and yes we're disrupting digital media, but most importantly, we're making the world a better place."

Promotional still featuring the cast of Silicon Valley
Image credit: HBO

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HBO's Silicon Valley, which hit its 10 year anniversary this month, tells a familiar story - a young nobody takes his brilliant idea to the big world of tech, and all hell breaks loose. But the way it tells that story, highlighting the ridiculous peculiarities of Silicon Valley culture along the way, is sharp and funny enough to cement the series as one of the best comedies ever made.

What makes Silicon Valley so watchable beyond it's many hilarious jokes and bits (and its stellar cast in Thomas Middleditch, T.J. Miller, Martin Starr, Kumail Nanjiani, and Zach Woods) is the way it sets its characters up to succeed and fail and then succeed and fail.

Promotional photo for Silicon Valley
Image credit: HBO

Though Silicon Valley is a comedy, it's rooted deeply in the structure of tragedy. No matter how close our main guys get to what they want (or how many tech giants are posed to take them down), its their own decisions, and their own flaws, that hold them back and nearly destroy them. It's sisyphean. And to keep the cycle from getting too repetitive, each character, but most dramatically, protagonist Richard Hendricks, has flaws that are sketched out so specifically that you can imagine a dozen of similar characters out in the world making the very same mistakes along the way. As you follow along, their mistakes and poor judgment become believable.

That's a hard order to serve too, as Silicon Valley learns hard into its satire. But, as over-the-top the show seems to get, there's always that niggling thought that, 'No, that's so ridiculous that it probably has happened somewhere.' And oftentimes, it has, as the series and its writers drew heavily from real life and the experiences of consultants in the tech industry.

Related: Five shows to watch after you watch Silicon Valley

Those who haven't seen the show might be tempted to check it out through clips and highlights (as so many people do for comedies these days), but I'd argue that Silicon Valley's jokes are only one (extremely spectacular) slice of the pie. It's the characters, their antics, and how those antics fit into the show's plot and themes that are the real gems.

One little warning though, as good as the show is, it doesn't quite stick the landing with its finale. Which, sure, is disappointing, but I find it hard to hold it against the show that hit such high highs.

Silicon Valley is streaming now on Max.


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