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September 04, 2018 - Image 31

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The Michigan Daily

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The Michigan Daily — michigandaily.com
Fall 2018 — 3D

‘Silicon Valley’ finds itself again in
its fifth season, after a rough patch

As someone who grew up in
Silicon Valley, the HBO show
of the same name always felt
uncannily more like a documentary
than a comedy. From the get-
go, “Silicon Valley” has been an
astute satire of the Valley, a place
where obscene amounts of money
sense of self-importance produce
Ironically, the show has been
enthusiastically embraced by the
very demographic it relentlessly
pokes fun at. Walk into any
startup office or CS building at any
university and you’ll find that our
(speaking as an engineer) affinity
towards the show’s humor is not
entirely dissimilar to a 12-year-old’s
towards toilet humor. Guaranteed
guffaws at popular sound bites such
as “this guy fucks” or “middle out”
illustrate how “Silicon Valley” has
transcended into being a possibly
niche, but still hilarious cultural
Nonetheless, I was quite worried
going into season five. Season four
was easily the series’s weakest,
with Pied Piper going frustratingly
nowhere during the course of
the entire season and Richard
Hendricks (Thomas Middleditch,
“Kong: Skull Island”) going from
lovable awkward nerd into a
character that was at too many
points simply painful to watch. The
satire still had its edge, but it seemed
like the show’s magic was just about
running out. Was the show just
overstaying its welcome?

Thankfully, the beginning of
season five has me cautiously
optimistic. We find the team
without Erlich Bachmann (T.J.
Miller, “Deadpool”) for the first time
after a disappearance in Tibet, and
although Erlich is one of the show’s
most notable characters, I wasn’t
quite miffed by his departure. By
the end of season four, he was just
a cheap source of crude humor, a
deadbeat who had little relevance
to the plot or progress of Pied
Piper. It turned out that T.J. Miller
in real life was becoming a bit too
much like the character he played,
forcing the writers to strand him in
the mountains. Oh well. Anyway,
season five sees the group move
into a new office, and throughout
the course of the first few episodes,
welcome a large group of engineers.
And to that I say: finally! Pied
Piper is finally actually making
some progress. One of the aspects of
season four that was so frustrating
was the feeling that the show
didn’t have to be quite so cyclical.
The possibilities for conflict and
comedy with a larger team as Pied
Piper expands are limitless. While
Richard is still hopelessly unfit
as a motivator and CEO (an early
scene has him give a ridiculously
cringeworthy speech to his new
employees), he shows glimpses of a
Silicon Valley staple many viewers
of the show are expecting to pan
out: the transformation from being
a brilliant, dopey coder to a ruthless
Gavin Belson (Matt Ross, “Captain
Belson is brilliant as ever, with a
renewed zeal to destroy the upstart

Pied Piper. The show continues
to excel at his characterization as
well as incorporating new gags,
including a recurring bit that
involves three new coders the team
dubs “stallions, each one more
magnificent than the last.” Each
time the stallions are mentioned,
sentimental music plays while the
camera pans to three disheveled
engineers rubbing their eyes while
squinting at their laptops. While
Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani, “The Big
Sick”) and Guilfoyle (Martin Starr,
“Spider Man: Homecoming”) have
not developed as much as I would
like, their interactions are as snide
and petty as ever, and characters
such as Laurie Breem (Suzanne
Cryer, “The Cloverfield Paradox”)
remain as perfect imitations of some
of Silicon Valley’s more unusual
personalities. Jared (Zach Woods,
“The Post”), one of the show’s most
intriguing characters, continues to
drop some truly disturbing lines,
which leads me to think he grew up
in a weird cultist/Neo-Nazi family.
Meanwhile in Erlich’s absence,
Jian Yang (Jimmy O. Yang, “Crazy
Rich Asians”) takes over and hatches
a plot to “inherit” his wealth. While
Jian Yang is hilarious in short
bursts, it is worrying that the show
has set him up to potentially be a
main villain of sorts. At the moment,
he still feels stuck as a caricature.
“Silicon Valley” is back, sort of.
Early on, season five is encouraging,
actually stimulating the idea that
Pied Piper will grow and encounter
a new set of problems. However, as
I stated before, I remain cautiously

Lorde brings pure magic to Detroit
as the ‘Melodrama’ tour continues

In the never-ending whirlwind
of bar and club shows, it’s easy
to forget the magic that occurs
alongside the detail and attention
productions. Lorde’s show on
Wednesday night at Detroit’s
Little Caesars Arena was truly
nothing short of pure magic.
Before her set, Lorde received
some fantastic support from the
inimitable queen of indie rock,
Mitski, and explosive hip-hop duo
Run The Jewels. With an early
set time, Mitski unfortunately
played to a half-empty arena
while seats slowly filled, but was
nonetheless spectacular, with a
set that included the anthemic
“Your Best American Girl” and
closed with the scathing “Drunk
Walk Home.” Run The Jewels
played most of their hits like,
“Call Ticketron” and “Stay Gold,”
upping the rhythm and energy of
the crowd in preparation for our
Lorde and savior to take the stage.
Within a matter of seconds
into her opening song “Sober,”
the entire arena was transformed
into Lorde’s own dreamscape,
for her to share her deepest
secrets and darkest emotions.

Background dancers flooded the
stage when necessary to set the
scene — an intimate party during
“Homemade Dynamite” and a
sensual dance between lovers
during “The Louvre.” All at once,
Lorde left everything and nothing
to the imagination with settings
as personally subjective as needed
but altogether objective in their
starting the show with a sleek
black outfit, changing midway
through the show on stage into
a flowing pink gown that she
then later exchanged for flared
red bottoms with a matching
ruffled top. Lorde took the crowd
through the emotions of her
music with these expertly timed
changes, reflecting the deftly
planned setlist. Melding cuts from
Melodrama and Pure Heroine
together, Lorde presented a young
and intense love broken down to
the sweet innocence of intimacy,
eventually bringing us to a spiteful
This is the artist of a generation
at her most affecting, most genuine
and truly most breathtaking.
Her show was both a visual
and auditory spectacle, blended
perfectly into a story deeply and

universally resonant. Prefacing
“Ribs” off of Pure Heroine with
“This is a song I wrote when I
was 16,” she reminded the crowd
of her former outlook as a teen,
tracing the messy path to young
adulthood with an incredibly
perceptive eye. She took the time
to thank the crowd for being
with her, reflecting on the fact
that she was once writing her
songs alone in a bedroom without
ever imagining she’d be sharing
them with arenas full of people.
Lorde also interposed a gorgeous
cover of Frank Ocean’s “Solo”
between “Writer in the Dark” and
“Liability,” reflecting on her own
efficacy in the messy melodrama
of life through these three tracks.
“Supercut” had the entire crowd
screaming along, reminiscing on
the purest, happiest moments of
life scattered throughout the dark.
If Lorde’s performance showed
us anything, it’s that we truly do
not deserve an artist with such
overwhelming talent. Without the
words to do her justice, I’ll leave
you with this: Few artists are able
to so magnificently capture acute
emotion the way Lorde has with
her music, and her performance
follows suit in a way that is so
almost impossible not to feel the

Senior Arts Editor

Daily Arts Writer



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