character, Comedy, Film, screenwriting, screenwriting tips, silicon valley, storytelling, Television, TV writing, writers life, Writing, writing comedy, writing tips
This may be a few years late, but I want to talk about a show that has it all!
*pulled from IMDB-Silicon Valley (2014–2019) … Follows the struggle of Richard Hendricks, a Silicon Valley engineer trying to build his own company called Pied Piper
Let’s break down seasons-1-3 (it starts getting a bit more serious at the midway point)
It has 👇
✅ Great characters
✅ Comedy that comes from character (not joke, joke, joke)
✅ Diverse cast
✅ Heart-meaning, we CARE Let’s break it down.
Richard Hendricks-our protagonist/Lovable Loser who is kind, smart, a bit nerdy, pretty much always chooses the wrong thing but we care and root for him. He’s real and authentic.Erlich Bachman-Materialistic One/womanizer – he’s brash, arrogant, causes a lot of trouble and we love to hate him, but mostly love him because he is helping our main protagonist and his group of creators—for his 10% thoughBertram Gilfoyle-Bastard always a jerk to everyone including Richard but especially Dinesh. We have all worked with guys/gals like this. They are smart and arrogant but we need them. Dinesh Chugtai – Logical Smart One – basically is the only one who is always thinking straight and is solid. He doesn’t freak out or anything, he is just steady. Nelson “Big Head” Bighetti-another Lovable Loser-seriously this guy does nothing, isn’t good at anything like the others but keeps getting moved up. His only real qualification is being Richard’s best friend. Donald “Jared” Dunn- another Logical Smart One. Honestly, I could take or leave this guy but in understanding this business, I know these types are always there. Monica-the love interest? Maybe, maybe not. She, like, Erlich, causes a lot of problems, but we like her because we believe she means well. Then you have the non-main characters but the ones who support the mains. Peter Gregory – billionaire whose company was funding Pied Piper until he died suddenly in a freak accident while on safari (while in real life the actor passed away from cancer in 2013) Played by Christopher Evan Welch based on the co-founder of PayPalGalvin Belson-clearly based on the two founders of Google. He is just a rich businessman and our antagonist for Richard and his gang. He’s all business.Jian-Yang -one of the housemates living in Erlich’s free incubator home for startups.Russ Hanneman also a billionaire but a serious douchebag and it was hard to watch Richard get involved with him.
that comes from character and the situations they are in but it’s not a sitcom. This show has dark comedy and it’s almost hard to watch. Unlike shows like FRIENDS or SEINFELD, you come back to Silicon Valley or go to the next episode because we NEED to know what happens. It’s not laugh-out-loud funny, well…maybe sometimes it is, especially if you know any people who are like this, but it’s meant to be a smarter comedy that all the humor comes from character. It’s really well done. I suggest that you watch it and study it. There are NO JOKES. Also, get Steve Kaplan’s book on writing comedy. THE HIDDEN TOOLS OF COMEDY Some of the things that happen seem absurd but they all come from character. One of the most pivotal moments for Richard was when he created something unique and he did it based on a stupid argument Dinesh and Bertram were having literally about jerking off people in the audience. They got so specific about it and spent hours making charts on a board to figure the math out and it gave Richard an idea. It seemed random but it wasn’t “wouldn’t it be funny if” (two nerds argued about jerking others off–which would have been low-brow humor) but it was used to illustrate their characters and move the story forward in a big way.
You seriously can’t have a show that takes place in Silicon Valley without doing this so well done to the creators for getting this spot on. They didn’t just toss in some other races besides white to be inclusive, which is happening a lot lately, they did it because it informed the story. It was also authentic and realistic.
We care about the characters and if they succeed. I was thinking about the show on the way to work meetings, going to the dentist, when I was at work-most comedies don’t have that kind of power, but my heart was in it for Richard and his company. If you can’t stop thinking about a show and the characters like they are real people, then they are doing their job extremely well. Sometimes it was hard to watch as Richard keep choosing the wrong thing but this is also so real to startups in the area and over the years. It’s so well written and plotted out that we are sucked right into it. These are the reasons I am writing about this show that aired 7 years ago because it’s really great and if you are writing characters for anything it’s worth studying. SILICON VALLEY is currently on HBO Max
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