Last season, Silicon Valley turned heads (of the human variety) by showing a monkey who had been given a robotic prosthetic limb use this cutting-edge technology to pleasure itself and hurl its feces.
This season, though, the show is not monkeying around. Nope. It’s horsing around.
Titled “Two in the Box,” the May 1 episode of the HBO tech comedy featured an envelope-pushing sex scene that could rival some of the ones seen in Silicon‘s lead-in, Game of Thrones. To recap: Pied Piper founder Richard Hendricks — who rejoined the company after being fired and rehired as CTO — was not happy with the direction that the sales team wanted to take Pied Piper in, so he stormed out of a meeting and tried to find new CEO Jack Barker. Told he was at the vet, Richard (Thomas Middleditch) got the address and tracked down Jack (Stephen Tobolowsky) at a horse-breeding farm, where he was startled to find the new boss watching a stallion penetrate his No. 1 breeding mare. “Holy s—,” stammered Richard. “What is that? Oh, mother of God.”
“You don’t see that very often, do you?” Jack marvels to Richard.
Richard then tried to tell Jack how the sales staff wants him to compromise his platform so it would be easier for them to sell, but they were both too distracted by the demonstration of raw sexual power taking place in front of them. (You could say that Jack was more entranced, while Richard was just… flustered.) Richard asked Jack if they could move out of sight of the dirty deed by the steeds, and around the corner, they had a discussion about Pied Piper’s potential to make the world a better place as the global standard for file compression before Jack delivered the depressing news to Richard that the real product here was Pied Piper’s stock. (You may not remember much of this because you were probably thinking, “Um, did they just show what I think they did?”)
Finally, Jack wrapped up the conversation by saying, “Now if you’ll excuse me, I paid $150,000 for the semen that’s about to come out of that stallion, and I would very much like to be there to see that it happens.” And then… well, it happened: We witnessed the messy moment of climax, which Jack missed because he was on his phone, receiving more bad news for Richard.
So, where did the horse-sex idea come from? (Besides nature, of course)? It started with fleshing out Piped Piper’s new boss. “When we did research, we said, ‘What are the things that the new CEO might do that would drive Richard insane?'” Silicon Valley exec producer Alec Berg tells EW. “One of the things that everybody said to us was that this guy would be going off to highfalutin charity things, and leaving early and coming in late.” The scene was imagined with a frustrated Richard finding Jack in the middle of one of his wealthy pursuits during the workday, but the original plan was for it to involve fast cars, not fast horses. “I took a race driving class years ago at Sears Point Raceway in Sonoma, and there were all these super rich tech guys who were there with their antique Jaguars and their mechanics in white coveralls tuning their cars, and they’d drive around the track in a silk scarf,” says Berg. “It was a very weird gentlemanly rich-guy pursuit. So we’d talked about maybe that was a Jack Barker thing, but it wasn’t funny. It was just sort of a rich-guy thing…. And the other thing that people talked about was racehorses, and then we landed on this idea of Richard having this very important conversation about the future of his business in front of horses that were going at it, and it just seemed like a really funny contrast.”
The equine-naïve producers were worried at first that the breeding process was done by artificial insemination, but after doing their research, they were “delighted to discover that thoroughbreds were bred via “natural cover” or “live cover,” a.k.a. intercourse. “Believe it or not, we did as much research on horse f—— as we do on code in a normal episode,” quips Berg, noting that “The haters who write in and say that’s not actually how horses f—, we can cover that base,” says Berg. “Usually they get us for some little technical glitch in the code or ‘No, that’s not how you would back up a file.’ But I’m sure somebody will go, ‘No, that’s not how horses do it!’ And people will be freeze-framing and critiquing the horse sex.”
While the producers say they did take some liberties with the scene — the actors were shot separately from the horses — they want you to know: Yes, that is genuine horse intercourse you just witnessed. “There’s no CG,” assures Silicon executive producer Mike Judge, who directed the episode. “That’s actually horses having sex. There might be some [compositing of images] and recycling of footage, but yeah, that’s pretty much the real deal there. It’s real porn.” As he indicated, Mother Nature necessitated some Hollywood creativity. “The horses are quick about it, so you’re seeing a little bit of the same footage repeated,” says Judge. “But it’s kind of cyclical in nature.”
What kind of feedback and/or concerns did the producers get from HBO on this dick joke of a different kind? “First of all, it’s HBO, so there’s no Standards and Practices [department],” notes Berg. “It’s not like we’re a network show where there’s some poor guy whose job it is to hamper creativity and rein people in. And also, we’re in season 3 of a show that I think has performed for them and they trust us. And God bless them, what makes us able to do the show that we do every week is that they trust us and give us free rein, and occasionally maybe we slightly overstep our bounds. But, you know, it hasn’t backfired yet!”
There is more animal action to come on Silicon this season, involving everything from snakes to bulldogs to turtles to rabbits. “Gavin Belson (the Hooli CEO played by Matt Ross) becomes very enamored with using animals to make points,” hints Berg. And sorry to disappoint, but those scenes will probably be less lascivious in nature. “It’s fair to say that this is the most graphic animal intercourse that we will delve into this season,” he says. “And I hope that that doesn’t lose us viewers.”
In all cases, the producers assure that these scenes are monitored by the American Humane Association. For Sunday’s equine action, a veterinarian was also present, and the two men shown working with the stallion and the mare were employees of the farm who oversee the tricky process and protect the horses. “No animals were harmed in making of this film,” says Judge. Adds Berg: “One of them was made extremely happy.”