From a purely class-centric standpoint, there’s no reason to root for the folks at Pied Piper. They’ve got millions of dollars to spend on a tech platform that will likely make them billionaires and kings of Silicon Valley. That they’re such idiots a lot of the time doesn’t excuse the fact that they are heading toward being the 1%.
Yet, it was genuinely thrilling to watch them score their big victory at the end of last night’s episode, grasping a win from the jaws of their huge blunder at giving up part of their algorithm to Endframe. That’s the beauty of a well-written TV episode and great acting. You quickly forget just how privileged these ultra-smart dudes really are.
It helps too that the show gives you some folks to actively root against. Buffoonish rich folk that are doing what they can to choke the creativity out of tech world, all for the sake of their bottom line. Or in the case of Russ Hannemann, the ability to say to the world that he’s a billionaire. So when he loses a bunch of money and gets knocked down to only $986 million, he goes bonkers. He slams the door of his Maserati to emphasize the fact that it opens up like a normal car door and not in some ridiculously unnecessary way. He shreds his “three comma” painting. He laments that he is driving off to Vegas in (gasp) a rented Citation Ultra airplane.
And you don’t feel so bad watching Gavin Belson stumble over a ridiculous explanation about why the failure of Hooli’s livestream is actually a success, and then outright lies to his Board of Directors (“gentlemen… and lady”) about having some game-changing function to the Nucleus platform. Something “so game changing it will justify any miscue in the platform’s rollout.” And what does he get as a result? His team offering up the idea of being able to control a smartphone using only your brainwaves. Just the idea though. They have no way of actually making it happen. Just the promise that “it’ll probably happen in our lifetime.”
Throw in the jerks at Endframe and there’s plenty of reason to hope that Pied Piper lands a “Hail Mary” pass and actually comes out on top in this heavily litigious and bloodthirsty landscape. They manage to find it too with Gilfoyle stealing all the information about their rival’s deal with a porn company and deciding to offer a similar but better platform with better compression. Again, that sounds incredibly dry, but you feel for Richard as he stumbles through his appeal to the CEO of the porn service. Poor little fledgling bird just wants to fly. It helps, too, that Judge and co. threw in a scene with said CEO giving a presentation to her fellow porn merchants, all of whom are sitting behind placards with names like “Brutalized Assholes” and “Poop On My Wife.”
The Pied Piper dudes do themselves no favors either, by treating each other with the offhand cruelty that men love to exhibit, and by shooting themselves in the foot when it comes to relations with women. God bless it… you just want these future success stories to hurry up and succeed already. With three more episodes to go in this season and the promise of another run of shows next year, it might be a while.
Robert Ham is a Portland-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.