Silicon Valley finished its sixth and final season on HBO on Sunday night with a swan song episode for Pied Piper.
Created by Mike Judge, John Altschuler, and Dave Krinsky, the Emmy-nominated Silicon Valley is a subversive satire of modern-day tech sector with its the brightest and the biggest aren’t necessarily the best.
“Silicon Valley has been a career and life highlight for us,” series executive producers/showrunners Mike Judge and Alec Berg said when the final season was announced in May. “We’ll miss it desperately, but we’ve always let Pied Piper’s journey guide the way, and Season 6 seems to be the fitting conclusion. We are forever indebted to our incredible cast, crew and partners at HBO. At a certain point, there’s only so much we can do to make the world a better place.”
The series stars Thomas Middleditch as Richard, Zach Woods as Jared, Kumail Nanjiani as Dinesh, Martin Starr as Gilfoyle, Amanda Crew as Monica, Jimmy O. Yang as Jian-Yang, Suzanne Cryer as Laurie Bream, Matt Ross as Gavin Belson, and Josh Brener as Big Head. Judge and Berg serve as executive producers, writers and directors. Clay Tarver, Lew Morton, Michael Rotenberg, Tom Lassally and Jim Kleverweis also executive produce. Ron Weiner, Sarah Walker, and Daisy Gardner co-executive produce.
Deadline recently caught up with Berg to look back on the six seasons in the valley of snarkness.
BERG: Yeah. I mean, there’s an enormous amount about the show that I will miss, but it also felt like it was time.
DEADLINE: With many successful shows there’s a moment where everything clicks and the show seems to find itself and its audience. Did you perceive a moment like that with Silicon Valley?
BERG: Yeah. HBO doesn’t do any audience testing, or focus groups, or anything, so we had showed it early on to a few friends and people were giving us good feedback, and then we took the first, I think, two episodes to South by Southwest, and we screened them there in front of an audience. That was kind of terrifying because it was the first time that anybody who didn’t work on the show had seen it, and they just played great, and I think that’s when we kind of knew all right we might’ve gotten away with this. it was a super good audience and they really got the show, and yeah, it was great, and then you start to…the first few episodes air and you start to get good feedback on them, and then it’s sort of like knowing the first season the way I did it’s like oh, if they’re liking these episodes…I knew that we finished really strong in Season 1.
The finale of season one I knew really worked, so it’s like look, if they’re buying this stuff then we kind of have pocket aces, and I know if the first few episodes are getting this reception then it’s only going to get better, and yeah, that was a good feeling. It felt like…we just guessed right, tone-wise, and I think the cast were really strong, and we also…we got super lucky that we got to the tech industry after the social network had been made, so people kind of had a sense of what was going on there, but I don’t think it was like a pervasive subject, so I feel like there was a lot of fresh material to be mined, and also, over the course of the six seasons the questions that we were asking about the tech business being more and more relevant, and the fact that Facebook swayed an election. All of those moral questions became more and more relevant.
DEADLINE: Did contemporary events ever overtake, uncut, or otherwise sabotage a storyline?
BERG: No. We did a lot of research, and so every year we would kind of have these meetings with tech people when we started writing, and we would say what’s going on, what’s the next thing that everybody’s going to be talking about, and there was the season…I think it was season four…no. Sorry. Season five, it was last season, where we did a big thing about cryptocurrency, and when we started writing the season everyone was like, oh crypto’s the thing. Crypto. Crypto. Crypto. You’ve got to talk about crypto. We’re like no, we might lose people on this one, like I’m not sure everybody knows what that is, and then I remember when we started shooting I was listening to…I listen to news radio in the morning, and in the normal course of the 22-minute news cycle they were talking about the stock market, and the weather, and bitcoin, and I was like okay if bitcoin prices have made the daily 22-minute news ticker then it’s certainly…bitcoin has sailed into the zeitgeist.
So, that was affirming that we kept making these choices to kind of get ahead of things, and we just hoped that people would understand, and like I said, every time we picked something that was far out by the time the show started to air the thing that had started out far out had kind of migrated to the mainstream.
DEADLINE: It sounds like when they come up with the flu vaccine every year. They’re trying to predict what it’s going to be in the seasons and months ahead. It sounds like you guys are trying to predict what’s going to be viral in the seasons and months ahead.
BERG: Yeah. Right. Right. Exactly. Yes. I mean, I don’t know that I’ve ever thought of Silicon Valley as the flu vaccine but yes, it’s good analogy. Yes. That’s exactly right is you’re trying to guess where things are going, and we guessed right more often than not.
DEADLINE: Bringing it to all to a close there’s a lot of different things to consider with that. How to send characters off, how to resolve things, what to emphasize. Was that process…did that kind of come to you in a natural way, or was that a particular challenge at the end?
BERG: Yeah. I mean, we just spent a lot of time in the writer’s room just asking…I mean, the whole show is this rumination on success, right, and what does success mean, and is success money, or is success artistic freedom, or is success not compromising your morals, and so that was…a lot of the discussion is just like what have these characters earned, and if they’ve earned “happiness” what is that, and it’s like what do the characters think that they want versus what do they actually want, and what do we know that they want. Dinesh has always been particularly materialistic, and so the question was like oh, should Dinesh end up with a billion dollars, or is that really what he thinks he wants, but he’s just…he’s worried about the wrong thing, so there were a lot of discussions about that, and what would…we love our characters and we want them to end up happy, but what is that. What is happiness?
Is happiness a billion-dollar company or is happiness something else, and then even with Gavin Belson it was funny. We’re like okay, well Gavin Belson’s the heavy. He’s their nemesis, so we should punish him in the end, if he should end up in some horrible agony, and then as we started thinking about it, we were like you know, I don’t think we hate Gavin Belson. I think we love Gavin Belson and he’s a complicated guy, but I think there’s a…we all had a fondness for him. He’s deluded and not self-aware, but that’s…he’s not an evil person. He’s just not that liked, so all of these were discussions about what have they earned, and where do they need to end up.
DEADLINE: Did you leave things open in a way for the potential return to the Pied Piper saga? A return at some point, not unlike, say, Entourage, Sex and the City, orDeadwood?
BERG: There is a joke at the end that, I guess, as we were writing it, we’re like oh, I guess this could be a scene for something further down the line if it ended up happening that way.
here’s certainly no concrete plan. It’s not like okay, we’re going to put this away for three years and then come back and do a limited run. There’s none of that, but look, I love everybody on the show. The whole cast was really just such a delight to work with, and they’re all such pros, and everybody respected everybody else’s work that if there were a way that it made sense to do something down the line, I’d do it in a second.