Every week, critic Robert Ham breaks down the mechanics of a particularly excellent Silicon Valley scene, moment or joke. This week, it’s all about the Pakistani Denzel.
Lately whenever I meet a couple for the first time, as the conversation naturally drifts to the question of how the pair met, the answer generally involves some use of the internet. A dating app, a message board, a website for single people… that kind of thing. It’s the way that so many overworked and tech-centric folks tend to meet one another in our modern age.
By and large, the attraction builds and deepens through words and conversation, shared one email or IM or text message at a time. And the bond can often grow stronger and deeper, even without knowing what the other person looks like. That way, once the initial face-to-face meeting happens, it can be free of the initial judgmental bullshit that we engage in on a daily basis. We’ve already fallen for the person inside, so what does it matter what the outside looks like, right?
That’s the best case scenario and for a great number of couples that I’ve encountered in recent years, that is exactly what went down. So, leave it to the writers of Silicon Valley to turn that entire concept on its ear, as Dinesh tries to woo the sole female engineer working on the Pied Piper platform.
The awkward Pakistani did his level best to get to know this young lady, even though she was thousands of miles away, and even while trying to claim that his friends called him “the Pakistani Denzel.” He also went above and beyond by using the compression algorithm to help increase the quality of their video chats so he could get a better look at the woman he was gaming on. Naturally, once she got a clear look at him, she balked and started claiming that she had a boyfriend… no, make that a husband.
If you’re a living, breathing human on this planet, you surely recoiled at the site of this, in recognition of your own romantic missteps. Who among us hasn’t gone the extra mile to get closer to a crush, only to have it backfire or blow right up in our faces? If anyone reading this has avoided such misery, you’re very much in the minority. The rest of us… we’ve been there.
It’s a risk that so many of us have taken and continue to take in the world of online and app dating. You face instant rejection like that on a daily basis. Of course, if you’re using Tindr and the like, you never hear or feel the quick judgment and dismissal. The other person makes the swipe and you’re none the wiser. But still, that in itself is a huge leap of faith. You put yourself up on the slab for folks to poke around at, or to take a split second look and swipe left. As the days and weeks go by without a connection, it can be a real fucking drag.
Carson Mell, the writer for this episode, provided an interesting contrast to this whole debacle, with both Richard and Jared finding romance the old fashioned way through face-to-face interactions. That felt, in part, like a subtle commentary on the online dating world, and how one huge negative aspect of that experience is people putting up a completely false front. Of course, it does happen as part of in-person dates, but those initial encounters are usually so revealing about who someone really is. For a brief stretch, this allowed Richard a few joyful moments with a young miss. And for Jared, well, as Dinesh said, “Russ was right. He fucks.”
In that respect, for as funny as it was to watch Dinesh shoot for the moon only to belly flop into the pool, you gotta give the character some credit for daring to reach out and make a connection. That’s how I’m choosing to look at it anyway, considering how badly the poor guy has been treated so far this season. Mocked for wearing a gold chain, stumbling through his work, and putting up with Gilfoyle’s constant verbal abuse… it’s almost much too much. But every show needs it’s punching bag and right now, that’s Dinesh. We’ll just have to wait patiently for him to earn his richly deserved moment of triumph. Just gotta give him a little time to get over his broken heart.
Robert Ham is a Portland-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. Follow him on Twitter.