What is it that happens to most men and women when they become millionaires or billionaires? Somewhere deep inside all of us there must lie some unknown switch that gets flipped once our bank account reaches a certain level. At that point, we apparently lose all connection with the rest of the world, and think that we can say and do anything without repercussion.
In the world of Silicon Valley, that translates to two strains of personality. In one, you get Gavin Belson, who insists that the treatment of rich people like himself is akin to the way Jews were treated in Nazi Germany. In the other, you get someone like Russ Hannermann, the brash douche who drives a loud orange sports car and brags incessantly about his one greatest success: putting radio on the Internet.
At the beginning of the episode, Richard has to figure out which strain to tap into, in hopes of saving Pied Piper. Does he take the buyout from Hooli and turn all of his work over to them (and by doing so, lose his entire team who would rather force their fearful leader to chortle on their balls than give in to Belson)? Or does he run with the loud Sean Parker-type with the sculpted beard, bedazzled jeans, and a crazed look in his eye?
Richard chooses the latter, but it’s almost by force. True, he had few other options, but when you’ve got someone practically shoving scorching hot pieces of expensive steak in your face and promising you the moon, you might jump in his sports car too.
In the universe of Mike Judge, Hannermann, as played by Chris Diamantopolous, is kind of like President Camacho from Idiocracy: he’s a preening nitwit. And he puts all of the Pied Piper team at unease with his loud questions and weird habits. Well, everyone but Erlich who, in the funniest interactions in this week’s episode, tries to suck up to someone he views as a kindred spirit, but keeps getting ignored and shut down.
It’s always a fun recipe for comedy to put someone that jock-ish in a room full of nerds, and for right now, it works really well. But there’s also the chance that Hannermann, as a character, could quickly overstay his welcome and turn into even more of a caricature than he already is. At the moment, he’s a nice bolt of energy into the show, ruffling Belson’s feathers and causing all of the Pied Piper team to freeze up as if they’re about to get a wedgie. Chances are, he might do it, too.
Robert Ham is a Portland-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.