The HBO show Silicon Valley pokes fun at, uh, Silicon Valley, but the creators and cast who appeared on-stage at Disrupt New York insisted that it’s not meant to be a mean-spirited satire.
“I don’t think Silicon Valley makes fun of it in a mean way at all,” said T.J. Miller, who plays blowhard incubator owner Erlich Bachman. TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington suggested that HBO’s Entourage was “just cool,” not mocking, but Miller countered, “I think Entourage was little bit more harsh on Hollywood. … All the parody elements are kind of us saying, ‘We know this so well, and we care so much about getting it right that we do understand that you’re making the world a better place. But if some of you wear shoes that have the little toes separated, then we’ve gotta talk about it.'”
The panel had a slight snake-eating-its-own-tail quality, opening with a video highlighting the ways in which the show’s version of Disrupt is based on reality. And Arrington, who was conducting the interview, has a cameo. (Creator Mike Judge told him, “Well, you were good.”)
In fact, Miller said that his character was based on a real person, namely the founder of Way.com, who supposedly harassed Miller to be a spokesperson for his website.
“He really was an arrogant blowhard who had no coding skills, but just was a fairly good salesman who smoked marijuana a lot,” Miller said. “And that’s kind of where I got my character.”
However, contrary to what’s widely believed, Judge said that Peter Gregory, the show’s weird-but-brilliant venture capitalist, isn’t based on Peter Thiel, at least not entirely. He said that he had read about Thiel, but he hadn’t seen him talk, and neither had actor Christopher Evan Welch.
Judge admitted that when, later on, he saw footage of Thiel, he thought, “Oh wow, that’s what Chris is doing.”
Anyway, you should really watch the full video. You may not learn much about the real Silicon Valley, or about season two of the show (executive producer Alec Berg said they only have “vague thoughts” about it right now), but you’ll probably laugh a lot, especially when you get to the meta-dick joke about 19 minutes and 30 seconds in.
Recreating TechCrunch Disrupt on ‘Silicon Valley’