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'Silicon Valley' recap: 'The Lady'

A discussion of the fourth episode of season 2 with ‘Silicon’ star T.J. Miller.

Posted on

Frank Masi

Silicon Valley

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
Thomas Middleditch, Aly Mawji, T.J. Miller

Gather ‘round, my three-comma friends (and one-apostrophe appreciators)—it is time to talk about the Lady. Which lady, you ask? Carla, the punky new Pied Piper employee who is already keeping Dinesh and Gilfoyle on their toes and probably would hate being called a lady? Yes, that one, though she’d probably hate being called that. The creepy, soothing maternal Big Brother voice that does all the bad-cop parenting for Douchelord Russ Hanneman? Oh, right, there’s that one, too Wait, what’s that? The episode itself is also called “The Lady”? All right, well, then it looks like we’ll be talking about the whole half-hour, including the rise of Big Head and trash habits of Jian Yang. But first, let’s put our narrow spoons down, stick our Pied Piper foam fingers into the air and make some noise for our weekly guest analyst, soon-to-be-official Fage spokesman, and the man who simply must get dings, T.J. Miller.

One question before we begin, T.J. Are you… dog-friendly? Well, I’m friendly to dogs but they don’t return the sentiment. I was standing in front of a dog—let’s call him Donald—and he said, “Hey toddler-body, you make a better door than a window. And I think your work on Silicon Valley is pedantic.”

Got it. So, the stakes were lower on this episode, as we focused mostly on a very specific part of our now-funded company: Hiring new employees. Turns out, there are some odd candidates kicking around. I particularly enjoyed the dude who crushed it in 2010, 2011, and 2013, prompting Jared’s earnest vetting question: “So are we too understand that you did not crush it in 2012?” That was one of the funniest parts of the episode. I love that the guy is so earnest about not having crushed it for one year. He had some mental problems that prevented it from happening, but then he was right back to crushing it. And he really wants to move to the next level and just start destroying it.

Did you personally crush it in 2012? Not as hard as I crushed it in 2010 when I did Yogi Bear 3D.

I’m a little disappointed that it didn’t work out with Jared. No, not that one—the other Jared. No, not Other Jared—Just Jared. No, not Just Jared, the website—Jared Patakian, the self-described cyborg who’s been fitted with a pacemaker. “I like that you guys are so… weird,” he says to Richard, who takes a moment to process the absurdity of that idea before just humbly going with it: “Yes, we are the weird ones.” We do have this great opportunity to show that there are even weirder people in Silicon Valley. That’s how bizarre that world is, that, yeah, Richard and Jared are completely normal compared to this guy that lowers his shirt collar to reveal a pacemaker, which proves his point, that, by definition, he is a cyborg. You would think that there is no one more socially awkward than Richard and then suddenly, there’s this litany of people. Even the crushing-it guy is equally bizarre and out of touch.… Russ Hanneman reminds you in this episode of the spectrum of insanity that is going on there. What money does to people. What it means to be able to speak that language and code in that world.

I want to focus on the coding candidate that does join the team: Carla, who seems to be both chill and withering. Last season the show was criticized for not having enough women on the show, and the producers’ defense was: They are reflecting the lack of women in Silicon Valley and poking fun at that. For example, Gavin walking into a room of execs and greeting them with, ‘Gentlemen. Lady.” This season, they slotted in Laurie with very little commentary so far but now with Carla, they’re hitting that much harder. That’s one of the main things that people talked about and we got questions at panels and so they had to answer it. So they forced us to hire a woman. They’re sort of winking at the audience. Like, look at this, we could have organically had a woman like peter Gregory’s replacement but also here’s your girl coder. You made sure that this would happen. It’s not organic.

Carla is far from a PC hire—she comes highly respected by Dinesh and Gilfoyle—but she’s made to feel like one by Jared, who has prioritized a female hire (“It’s like we’re the Beatles and now we just need Yoko”). He is used here to amusingly satirize the affirmative-action versus best-person-for-the-job debate—“We want to hire the best people who happen to be women, regardless of whether or not they are women. That part is irrelevant”—while being so incapable of carrying out this mission. Witness his stab at connecting with Carla by telling her that he “loved The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” I think I’ll laugh the next time I watch it, but when I was first watching it, I was like, “Wow, this is a pretty amazing piece of satire and comedy, because they’re speaking to the people who said, “Put women in! Even if it’s a satire reflecting actual life, don’t do that! Make it the ideal version!” All that was so ridiculous. Of course, there are going to be women in the show. It’s still a real-word scenario. But in Silicon Valley there are many more men than women, and in satirizing the hiring through Jared’s motives, it’s also funny that they’re speaking directly to the critics. But we’re also attacking something within this where he’s going, “We should hire a woman—even if it’s not a woman. It would be best for us to hire a woman, regardless of whether they’re a woman.” I actually know someone in Silicon Valley who’s pretty powerful in compression, and like Carla, she said, “I’m not a girl coder. I’m just a coder. Yeah, there’s a bias, but we just need to keep getting more talented women in the city but not consider them women. Just get better coders.”

Carla knows an easy target when she sees one, and toys with Jared later by asking him if it will be problematic that she has a friend named C—y:”If I can’t call C—y C—y, then I’m not going to want to have C—y over at all, which I feel like kind of violates my rights… as a woman.” Jared is taking fire from all over and processing none of it. Witness his recounting of Dinesh and Gilfoyle’s line-crossing insults of him— “Retarded Frankenstein,” “AIDS Lady,” (Another lady reference!) and “Effeminate KD Lang” — which he misinterprets as just friends-being-friends razzing. Jared is like a bukaki victim. He’s just taking it from every angle. He loves it. In some ways, I think Erlich envies Jared because ignorance is bliss. He’s not seeing anything with a cynical eye. What a great tool to explore HR/affirmative-action issues with.

And just what a great tool he is, overall. Carla shows Dinesh and Gilfoyle no mercy either, letting them think that she’s making more money than them—see: her fake D&G bag, and when they tell her how much equity they have in Pied Piper, she says: “That’s weird, I thought you got in at the beginning.” She’s a promising addition to the crew and nicely complicates the Gilfoyle-Dinesh dynamic. If you combined Dinesh and Gilfoyle, she would be that female version. She might be perfect for this crew because she brings her own level of awkwardness in being blunt and understated. She spends a lot of time in front of the computer too. The thing I love is she’s the most assertive, she’s playing a joke on Dinesh and Gilfoyle, and fire backs at Jared. She’s sort of an alpha, and showing that gender isn’t part of this picture in this world…. We see how all these guys interact with this girl in the house and we’re really seeing how someone like Jared in these circumstances, and they don’t know how to handle women, and Jared is the worst with it. You’ll see in future episodes, he’s trying to get Monica and her to be friends. It’s such a funny comment on being overly conscious of gender and not being conscious of it at all.

Let’s shift our attention from a new member of the team to a former one: Big Head. His story feels like its own Mike Judge movie, the incompetent employee rising through the ranks of an absurd company against his will. Gavin loftily introduces a new crazy-big-idea division of Hooli, XYZ to be run by robotics pioneer Professor Davis Bannecheck, who discovers at the podium that he’s been saddled with Nelson as his co-head dreamer. Instead of being happy with his lucrative promotion, “Bag Head,” as Gavin calls him, is perplexed by this shifting, golden ground beneath his feet. Big Head being forced to “dream big” while being set up as unlikely—and unwilling—foe for Pied Piper? This sounds promising. It’s classic Mike Judge failing your way to the top. It’s so fun to see how he’s going to become an unwilling part of the enemy. And Josh Brener is just hysterical. He’s so subtle and so often he’ll do a really subtle thing and swallow it, so he sort of swallows himself in every situation because he’s just drowning. He’s a stuttering comedy savant.

NEXT: Will Erlich have a break-through with Jian Yang? (No.)