Silicon Valley Review: “Tech Evangelist”
Outside of the bombardment of adult language, violence or nudity, what separates HBO’s programming from any other network is their willingness to fund smart television that isn’t concerned with appealing to a wide audience. While Silicon Valley often achieves this through intelligent yet humorous plotlines surrounding complex computer or tech industry characteristics, “Tech Evangelist” succeeds in being one of the best episodes to lampoon the at-times militant ideology of the tech capital of the world.
A mainstream American audience would most likely come away from tonight’s episode unable to relate to its subject matter. Juxtaposing how Christianity is viewed in Silicon Valley in the way that most of middle America views homosexuality is a risky plotline, and to have the character whom such a plot revolves around be a man more comfortable with his sexuality than religious beliefs seems almost too deep of a plotline for a comedy to cover.
Yet Silicon Valley tackles it flawlessly. The show uses Richard perfectly as a vehicle for the viewers who may not be as familiar with the sometimes fun-house mirror version of left-leaning politics of Silicon Valley. Richard mistakes the hardships this character faces to be a product of his sexuality rather than his religion due to the witty dialogue. It never leaves the viewer behind as its comedy gets more specific and unrelatable, but at the same time isn’t afraid to go the distance either.
Additionally, the show is great at not forcing one moral onto the viewer as the correct one they should hold. Rather, it paints an accurate portrait of the continually changing paradigms of modern mainstream culture. No one on the show really has a reason to dislike Christians, rather it's simply just not what is associated with the progressive-leaning direction the tech world has gone in. It's a product of corporate research into what the most current bankable beliefs of society are at the moment, beliefs that are often reactionary rather than contemplative.
The show does well to not shift its tone fully during the episode towards dismantling the culture of Silicon Valley, however, and remains chock full of some of its best jokes of the season. About a week ago, The Washington Post published an opinion piece on why Zach Woods portrayal of Jared Dunn is one of the best portraits of a man currently on television, and it’s difficult to argue with the author. Woods continues to make the loveable, clean cut and emotional Dunn hilarious with the charming and laugh-out-loud delivery of his lines. Any moment he’s on screen he steals the spotlight, with “Tech Evangelist” being the fourth episode in a row where Woods had the best line of the episode...and the second, third and possibly fourth best line too.
If there is any shortcoming the episode had, it would have to be its devolution of Jian Yang’s character. Yang felt like a very honest (though still comedically heightened) characterization of an immigrant with a different worldview placed into the hyper-commercialized world of Silicon Valley. He often served as a stark contrast to the over-the-top community that surrounded him. However, with the most recent developments of his character in season five, Yang seems to have simply become another cartoonish character in a cast that didn’t really need another cartoon character. But even when the show doesn’t succeed with every single side plot to every character, it remains one of the smartest sitcoms currently on television, if not the smartest sitcom currently on television.
Chandler Copenheaver is a senior majoring in public relations. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Senior / Public Relations