The hit HBO comedy series Silicon Valley just made it to its third season finale a couple weeks ago, and yes, it was absolutely brilliant, and no, I don't know what I'm going to do with myself until the fourth season comes out. I'll probably binge watch the entire series on a loop to alleviate the emptiness (no joke). Not only is this show genuinely hilarious and completely organic, it offers actual business insight to harvesting a successful startup in the ever expanding tech community (almost enough to validate dropping out of college... Almost). But enough about my obsession with possibly the greatest show ever, let's take a look at who actually makes this show so damn great!
Let's start with the lead of the show and relative newcomer, Thomas Middleditch! As of now, we know and love him as Richard Hendricks, the genius behind middle-out compression, but Thomas Middleditch could easily be the biggest breakout star when all is said and done. Originally from Canada born to British parents (no wonder he was destined for comedy) Middleditch decided on a performing arts path early. He bounced from an arts college in Toronto, to the Second City and I.O. Theaters in Chicago, and eventually almost made it onto Saturday Night Live in New York. Mostly he has been recognized for his character driven standup where he performs as a different person in nearly every routine.
Thomas Middleditch has gone on to say that his character on Silicon Valley was essentially created for him after visionary Mike Judge heard one of Middleditch's standup routines on an audio tape. Since the start of the show he has also gained some acclaim from critics, getting nominated for the Critics Choice Award in 2014 and 2015, and more than likely having a huge hand in the show's Emmy and Golden Globe nominations. Without too many notable acting credits, the entertainment world is his oyster, and aside from him being an outright character actor, I'd say he has the makings of a modern day Gene Wilder.
Next on the list is Hollywood's current most lovable sidekick, T.J. Miller. On Silicon Valley he plays the unstoppable narcissist Erlich Bachman, but in reality Miller is simply irresistible. T.J. has found his way into some of the biggest franchises the industry has to offer, such as Transformers, How to Train Your Dragon, and of course the rated R blockbuster Deadpool. Early on, Miller got his footing in comedy joining different troops in college and eventually making it onto the stage as a standup in much bigger venues.
One of T.J. Miller's earliest movie credits was the man behind the camera in Cloverfield, which turned out to be a pretty big cult hit for horror fans. This helped him find a large amount of voice acting work, and gave him a chance to show some of his range. T.J. also got his first nomination at the Critics Choice Awards in 2015 for Silicon Valley, and with his substantial fan base, he actually could be the biggest audience draw for the show. The man has a golden touch, and it's safe to say I'd let him be the C.E.O. of my company any day.
With possibly the longest career of the main cast, Martin Starr in his own right is without a doubt the perfect nerd! Playing a convincing satanist as Bertram Gilfoyle, Starr fits impeccably in the role, and it wouldn't surprise me if it was actually created for him as well. Martin Starr got into the business early on with the Apatow gang, and had a sizeable role on the short lived Freaks and Geeks, where a number other successful actors found their start, including Seth Rogen and James Franco.
Starr is usually put in a supporting role, but tends to be a clear stand out in almost all of his projects, which are commonly popular with critics and diehard fans. His character, Gilfoyle, is developed enough that I could even see a spinoff entirely based on the lovable satanist. Basically it would be nice to see him find some more leading roles, but he is probably satisfied with his career, especially getting cast in an unnamed role for the upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming.
As one arguably the most successful standup comedian on the show, Kumail Nanjiani could very well be the most qualified nerd of the bunch! Playing the part of Dinesh Chugtai, a Pakistani immigrant/computer engineer, Nanjiani literally came to America from Pakistan when he was 18 years to study computer science and philosophy. Kumail got his start on podcasts as a fan of gaming, where he met Dan Harmon, and was encouraged to pursue standup.
To say the least, Kumail basically is the greatest ambassador for nerd culture. He hosts a stand up show with Jonah Ray on Comedy Central that films in the back of a comic book store, he jumps around different podcasts speaking his mind on everything in geek culture, and guest stars on almost every possible comedy show on TV. Hard work, persistence, extreme intellect, and talent all combine to make up Kumail Nanjiani.
Last, but definitely not the least, we come to fan favorite Zach Woods. Come on, how could we forget Jared, I mean O.J., I mean Donald? His character on the show has a frightening optimism about him that is completely contagious. Zach Woods also got his start young performing as a teenager at U.C.B. in New York with the likes of Bobby Moynihan and Chris Gethard. He took these skills and went on to actually teach improv comedy at the respected Colombia University, Duke University, and the Lincoln Center.
Zach Woods' first big shot was on The Office as Gabe, and he completely nailed the part. Since then he has been spreading his wings to more theatrical releases, having side roles in films such as The Other Guys and Spy. He also has been working with Christopher Guest on a highly anticipated Netflix series called Mascots where he will have a lead role. As far as being my personal favorite character on the show, I hope he eventually finds himself nominated for Silicon Valley.
The Rest of the Cast
Now that you have met the bad ass team at Pied Piper, I also want to give a little respect to the supporting players. Josh Brener, the actor behind Nelson "Big Head" Bighetti, continually finds a way to get himself into the mix and plays incompetent wonderfully. Amanda Crew, or better known as Monica on the show, is a very necessary straight-man (so to speak), and often keeps the story on track. And, although not seen in the photo above, Matt Ross as Gavin Belson is one of the best villains on any show around - you simply love to hate him! Overall let's give a big hand to whoever is in charge of casting!
Mike Judge - The Creator
Now to the true genius of the show, Mike Judge! This man is responsible for classic projects such as Beavis and Butthead, King of the Hill, and Office Space, and he decided to join forces with a couple head writers at National Lampoon, John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky, to develop one of the most solid comedies on television- Silicon Valley. Mike Judge had an early history with computer engineering living for some time in the actual Silicon Valley before finding his true calling with animation and film. He wanted to take his experiences and lighthearted disdain toward the tech capital and create an relevant journey for a promising upstart company. Mixed with his dark sense of humor, the show turned out to be nothing short of brilliant!