10. Silicon Valley
Best Character: Despite this being reportedly the final season with T.J. Miller’s Erlich Bachman, the real MVP of the Pied Piper team this year is CEO Richard Hendricks (Thomas Middleditch). Whether he’s trying to con a VC as a faux Lyft driver or clumsily kicking a hole through a closet door, Middleditch has brought his A-game as he slowly shifts from the rattled protagonist we know to the spiteful antagonist we’re starting to meet. Judge and his writers have wired Richard’s arc with some indelible wins (e.g. calling out Gavin’s blood bag; one-upping a bottom-feeding lawyer) and yet some questionable decisions (e.g. sleeping with a client’s wife; basically everything that happens at Hooli-Con). Middleditch has stormed through it all with a badge of pride that deceptively registers as both charming and earned.
Must-See Episode: “The Patent Troll” is all kinds of glorious, if only for Gilfoyle’s (Martin Starr) pathetic obsession with hacking Jian-Yang’s (Jimmy O. Yang) $14,000 intelligent refrigerator. The fridge’s exasperated vocal tics are straight out of Judge’s Office Space, and it’s those minor additions that have long kept his brand of comedy a shade or three above the competition. Plus, seeing Richard take down that sleazy lawyer at the end of the episode is priceless, even if it technically cost him about $20,000 in legal fees. Tsk tsk. He should have gone to Matt McCoy’s Pete Monahan.
Why Should We Binge? Silicon Valley has thrown some major curve balls throughout its fourth season. At first, Richard’s initiative to build a new Internet seemed like another exhausting sandbox for the series to carve out more predictable peaks and valleys within, but it’s actually lead to some intriguing developments. You know, like having Richard work alongside Matt Ross’ insufferable Gavin Belson, whose venomous past may have always been a harbinger of Richard’s fate. Sure, their collaboration was a little like watching Wade and Rondo play together this past season with the Bulls — intriguing albeit short-lived — but it adrenalized the story and added a hefty weight to the series. Because if Richard really is going all Walter White on his Pied Piper cohorts, Silicon Valley takes on a whole new dimension, becoming a commentary on the malice that infects the titular terrain, and that’s something nobody could have ever expected from the HBO comedy.