Satanists, teen coders, and robot cars [Silicon Valley Recap: s1e6]


“You just brought piss to a shit fight” – this may be one of my favorite lines ever uttered, lack of realism re: assault charges notwithstanding.

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Agreed that this was a weak and problematic episode. Pretty disappointing given how well the show has come along. The preview for next week’s episode suggests it may be toned down and more focused again, though.

That said, there were definitely some good moments here… including the whispered conversation at the Satanist baptism, which was the only good part of that subplot I thought and quite funny (despite the troubling aspects of what they were actually talking about, it has to be said). Dinesh and Erlich play off of each other really well.

Well, other than that it was mostly just a few throwaway lines that I enjoyed, something the show is quite good at - and without those, this certainly would have been a very dire episode.

I don’t really buy the defense of Monica as a not totally misogynistic character, like the rest of the show. She isn’t really even a character on her own, she only exist in relation to men so far. She gets to “massage the fragile ego of a socially challenged man” and be an assistant, yay feminism.

At the same time, Monica is the only character who actually accomplishes things. Which itself is a cloying anti-feminist trope and tired gag from sitcoms- the put upon woman is the only one who keeps the incompetent males afloat, but they’re still the heroes of the story.

Also, I did get a kick out of the fact that the head satanist bore a distinct resemblance to Bruce Schneier. I actually thought it might be him.

Pretend I’m dense. Okay, don’t pretend, because I really am.

I get that the notion of the put-upon woman being the only one who accomplishes things is a tired gag, but I’m struggling to understand how it’s anti-feminist to use the hoary old trope that the idiot men get the credit while the women are the brains of the operation.

It basically codifies the idea that female competence is only acceptable in service to male success. On one hand, the trope of the unsung competent person rescuing the incompetent can be empowering and played for laughs in a constructive way(I’m a dude, but I totally wanted to be Penny from “Inspector Gadget”). Tropes are never inherently bad.

But in “Silicon Valley”, Monica exists solely to further other people’s success, and specifically the success of male characters. She has no agency of her own- Penny saves the world without credit because she actively wants to save the world. Monica advances male careers because… she’s good at her job?

Worse, male characters that embody the stereotypes of socially incompetent man-child geniuses. Female characters break down into two aspects of femininity in SV- Monica, who is the maternal, giving, and kind one, and everyone else, who is a sexpot to be ogled.

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It’s probably because I’m dense, but I’ve always seen it with a slightly different nuance; I tend to think of it as either fanservice, or an exasperated writer’s view, of a world where men are idiots but succeed anyway, and the women are the masterminds but never get the credit.

[monica] And she is just such a doormat to. Looking cute and smiling and being nice. The show is so male gazy on her.

That’s a great subversion of the trope, and it can work extremely well, but I think that’s an overly charitable reading of what Silicon Valley is doing. If the show had any other female characters who were anything other than sexual objects, I might feel differently, but I don’t get the sense that the show respects women at all.

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