So many TV shows are built upon characters with unwavering confidence, whether justified or simply a byproduct of their own stupidity. It’s in this respect that the characters of Silicon Valley for the most part stand alone. They have all the brains and technical capability to be rockstars in their industry, but so often lack any of the charm to do so. (Of course, the complete opposite holds true for Erlich Bachman.) Out of all the characters pushing for the success of startup, Pied Piper, none seem more odd and awkward than Jared Dunn (Zach Woods).
Jared’s backstory prior to jumping ship at tech giant Hooli and moving to Pied Piper is mostly a mystery, sewn together by one bleak event after the other. The result of such a murky and tragic upbringing—the piecemeal description of which has hinted at everything from rotating foster homes to creepy uncles—is one of the funniest characters on the show. Jared’s one-liners might not be as brash as Erlich’s (T.J. Miller) or as biting as Gilfoyle’s (Martin Starr), but they’re always darkly hilarious. With the series’ fourth season now at an end, Paste selects our 12 favorite of Jared’s strange quotations:
“Hey! Sorry if I scared you, I know I have somewhat ghost-like features. My uncle used to say, ‘You look like someone starved a virgin to death.’”
From the moment we first meet Jared in the second episode of Season One, he comes off as a acutely awkward and odd individual, which is saying something considering the company he surrounds himself with. Jared is rather harmless for the most part, but he’s still kind of creepy—and likely suffering from a Vitamin D deficiency, to go by the way he says his uncle (Uncle Jerry, perhaps?) described his pale, slender figure.
“They actually tried to diagnose me with a wasting disease because of my slender frame.”
Early on, Jared starts dropping hints about his troubled past, which almost certainly involved visits to numerous types of doctors. Nearly everyone goes through that period of adolescence when they’re incredibly uncomfortable in their own body. For Jared, though, it was likely much more agonizing. The fact that he was almost diagnosed as a medical anomaly is something he still carries with him, casually throwing it into the conversation when it’s least expected.
“How much would it be worth to you if I told you I had a GPS app called “Pied Piper”, tracking the location of your child? I can follow your child anywhere and there is nothing you can do to stop me. Most missing children are never found. Interested, very interested, or very interested?”
Just because Jared is head of business development for Pied Piper, that doesn’t always translate into a smooth approach for handling the startup’s business. Case in point: Jared’s desperate attempt at pivoting the company in a new direction to avoid being humiliated by Hooli’s Nucleus at Battlefield. Maybe it was being trapped in a shipping container that warped his head, but Jared’s man on the street approach doesn’t exactly help Pied Piper’s rep. It also likely landed him in the hot seat as a potential child abductor.
“I’ve never felt like I was anyone’s bro before. The only people who have used that term with me were assailants, but, um, I started bro’ing people and getting bro’ed back.”
A key component to making friends as an adult is having a friendly demeanor without coming off pathetically desperate. Unfortunately for Jared, that second part is damn near impossible. So many of Jared’s attempts at bonding with his housemates leave them speechless and little bit confused about his upbringing. Jared’s proclamation about having his first non-assailant bro is a perfect example.
“Well, get some sleep, my bros. I’ll set the meeting, and, um, then I’ll go find some hoes to prioritize behind you…. It’s sexist, but it’s about friendship.”
You can’t fault Jared for being excited at the feeling of having new friends (though friends don’t normally call each other “AIDS lady” or “effeminate K.D. Lang”). He just goes a little overboard with the whole “bro” thing. In a strange way, it’s kind of impressive that Jared took a phrase as douchey as “bros before hoes” and managed to spin it into part of a business strategy.
“They have the manpower. We have the perseverance. Triumph of the will.”
On the surface, Jared’s words don’t seem nefarious at all. It’s even kind of motivating. Until two seconds later, when Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani) points out that it’s linked to a Nazi propaganda film. This makes the second time Jared has referred to Hitler on Silicon Valley, after pointing out the dictator’s passion for the bassoon in Season One. Now, is Jared a Nazi? Probably not. But then again, he does sleep talk in German. As Dinesh put it, the guy just has a very “cheerful” way of quoting one of the most evil humans in history.
“I simply imagine that my skeleton is me and my body is my house. That way I’m always home.”
Jared jovially revealing to Dinesh that at an earlier point in life he was sleeping in a cardboard box could have easily been the most depressing moment from Season Three’s “Two In A Box.” Except for the fact that he follows it up later by describing his mental coping mechanism for dealing with homelessness. It’s one of those laugh-out-loud lines that you instantly feel a little bad for enjoying—because it’s just so dark. On the flip side, you have to give Jared props for the mind-boggling ways he manages to keep a positive attitude.
“Maybe now I’ll fan out my plumage, so to speak, and see what pretty birdies might share my nest.”
This line alone would lead one to think Jared’s chances of pulling some “pretty birdies” are in the same percentage range as a decimal point followed by many zeroes. Human nature is a strange thing, though, and there are many different kinds of mating dances. As it turns out, finding someone to share his nest isn’t much of a problem for Jared. Because, as Russ Hanneman (Chris Diamantopoulos) says, “this guy f**ks.”
“I had a stuffed animal named Winnie. I mean, it wasn’t technically an animal. I took a Ziploc bag and I stuffed it with old newspaper and then I drew a smile on it.”
Everybody knows that one person who can bring a conversation to a screeching halt by sharing some warped detail of their life nobody asked about. Jared is that person tenfold. Few of Jared’s childhood recollections are sadder than his story about a “stuffed animal” that was nothing more than a bag of garbage. Like all of the childhood memories Jared shares with Richard (Thomas Middleditch) and the others, the interjection of such a disturbing confession leaves his roommates dumbfounded at what they just heard.
“I’ve always been very adept at taking the shape of whatever shoe is pressed down upon me so I can try to make it work.”
Despite his looks and generally mild-mannered demeanor, Jared is a survivor. While he might not always—rarely, if we’re being honest—get the respect of others, he keeps truckin’ along. Being a pushover would normally squeeze somebody out of a cutthroat business like the tech industry, but not Jared. He just smiles and happily does his best to make whatever unfair hand life has dealt him work. Whether it’s sleeping on a cot in Erlich’s garage or functioning as Gavin Belson’s (Matt Ross) manservant, the guy takes it all in stride.
“We can talk about anything two guys might talk about, like sports teams. Or pussy!”
Jared’s attempt at making small talk with Richard quickly crashes and burns, mostly because both characters constantly fumble when it comes to interacting with other human beings. Even if neither were the posterchild for social anxiety disorder, finding common ground with somebody you don’t know well can be tricky. But Jared’s attempts at making small talk sound like what space aliens might conclude guys talk about if their only exposure to human males had been the movie Varsity Blues.
Sometimes you have to make compromises. I mean, I once slept with the head of an assisted-living facility to get my friend Muriel bumped up the wait list. Am I proud of it? No. Do I regret it? (shakes head)
Like countless times before, Jared begins to impart some solid advice to his coworkers before taking a sharp left straight to Awkwardville. Jared’s already shared that he was in various foster homes and has a lot of elderly friends, but prostituting himself out in a nursing home pretty much takes the cake. If Richard ever had any doubt about just how loyal a friend Jared was, this should have resolved it with unsettling certainty.
“My captain! O Captain! My captain! Rise up and hear the bells. Rise up… for you the flag is flung… for you the bugle trills.”
Leave it to Jared to forgo the standard “congratulations” upon learning that Richard has been reinstated to Pied Piper CEO. Instead, he opts to celebrate the occasion with lines from Walt Whitman’s poem after Lincoln’s assassination. It’s classic Jared. Enthusiastic, hopeful and oh so weird.