Mike Judge’s Silicon Valley has brilliantly and brutally skewered high-tech culture and its wacky, Internet-centric ecosystem for years. However, the true genius of this show resides in Judge’s deep understanding of the strange personalities that drive tech companies, from three-man garage start-ups to the global online behemoths and their sprawling mega-campuses.
Judge is, of course, the legendary creator of Beavis and Butthead, King of the Hill, Idiocracy, and Office Space — projects widely embraced by tech geeks and nerds all across the Bay Area. As a long-time Bay Area resident (and an on-again, off-again tech worker), I can assure you that Silicon Valley is more of a covert documentary than a comedy series.
Silicon Valley enters its fifth season facing its biggest challenge: how to deal with an estranged and embittered team member — a storyline both inside and outside of the show. We’re talking about T.J. Miller’s Erlich character, a key reason for the show’s success but also a major distraction, due to extenuating personal troubles.
Miller has been accused of sexual assault and battery by a former college classmate while both attended George Washington University many years ago, according to The Daily Beast. The story was picked up by the media and the #MeToo movement late last year. Miller has denied the accusations, but the story has not gone away.
Judge and his co-executive producer Alec Berg addressed how the show moves forward sans Miller, in an interview with Variety:
“It’s not going to be fun, and it’s going to be difficult. Also, the Erlich character was getting harder and harder to write him into the show because he wasn’t someone who worked at the company, he was their past investor and their landlord and we started doing stories about how he was feeling marginalized and he wasn’t really one of the gang and what he was doing about that.”
Judge and Berg assert that Miller’s departure was a purely narrative decision, which might be true, but it’s hard to overlook the timing. They expand their rationale in a follow-up remark:
“It was at a point where it was going to be really hard to find an organic way to get the Erlich character into the show anyway, so from that standpoint it was kind of time. And then T.J., for a number of reasons, just decided that his time had come and gone and he wanted to move on, so we had the narrative challenge to keep him in the show and then it became ‘OK well, maybe it’s just time to not have him on the show.'”
Will you continue watching Silicon Valley without T.J. Miller? Let us know in the comments down below!
Silicon Valley returns to HBO on March 25, 2018.