‘Silicon Valley’ Bosses and Cast Defend the Series’ Representation of Women in the Tech Industry

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As “Silicon Valley” heads into another hiatus, the post-finale conversation now gives way to where the show goes next. With Erlich Bachman (T.J. Miller) fully in the rear-view mirror, Tuesday night’s Emmy For Your Consideration event at the Paramount Theatre in Hollywood became a place for the show’s creative team to talk about what will be some key considerations as the show moves beyond Season 5.

Long after the evening’s moderator Johnny Knoxville had finished his questions about the elaborate dick joke at the end of Season 1 and whether or not certain cast members would be willing to use robots for purposes beyond strictly scientific purposes, one audience member brought up the idea that actresses on “Silicon Valley” have not always enjoyed the same amount of screen time as the men on the show do.

Citing the existing disparity of programmers in the workforce of the real Silicon Valley, series showrunner Alec Berg addressed the idea by saying that gender representation is an ongoing discussion in their writers room.

“It’s a great question and a question we have wrestled with a lot: Do we have an obligation to present Silicon Valley as we want it to be or it actually is? VCs at the partner level are 3% female. Both of the partners of our VC are female, so that’s an aberration massively on the other side. We talk about it all the time,” Berg said. “We could do a better job satirizing the male/female stuff and hopefully as the next season comes together, we’ll do that.”

One of those partners, Laurie Bream, makes a significant shift in alliances at the end of Season 5. In one of the evening’s small nods to where this show might go in the series’ next season, Berg acknowledged that Laurie would still have a say in what happens next.

“Laurie has teamed up with Yao and I would expect when and if we write the next season, she will factor heavily into it,” Berg said.

Zach Woods, who plays Jared on the show, also added an actor’s perspective to the ongoing debate facing showrunners Berg, Mike Judge, and Clay Tarver.

“If you’re doing a satire that’s meant to draw attention to the foibles of an industry or the endemic problems of an industry, if you do wish fulfillment where you show a version that is better than the actual place, then you’re almost abdicating your responsibility as a satirist. You’re repairing the problems fictionally as opposed to drawing attention to the problems that actually exist in the real world,” he said.

Silicon Valley Gilfoyle Monica

“Silicon Valley”

Ali Paige Goldstein/HBO

In discussing about the work that the editors do on the show, Martin Starr and Amanda Crew talked about the different ways they filmed their final scene together, crediting the directing and post-production team with helping to shape all of these characters, right up until the end.

“Amanda had poked at the notion that we might be romantic in a moment that felt weirdly romantic for our show. Then we kind of teased that in that last moment and they chose a very tame version of some of things we played with,” Starr said. “But we really get to try things and know that they’ll make it all come together beautifully.”

Much of the evening’s conversation stretched back beyond Season 5 to the origins of the show. As a testament to how the show, its place in the industry, and the actors’ relationship to it have all changed, Woods told perhaps the best story of the evening.

“At the first premiere, we were in San Francisco and one of the tech advisors came over and was like, ‘Do you want to get a photo with Elon?’ And I was like, ‘Oh, I guess someone wants a selfie,’ since I didn’t know who he was,” Woods recalled. “I went over to Elon Musk and I asked, ‘Do you live in California? Are you in tech?’ I was like, ‘Well, I know it’s a tough business, but I wish you luck!'”

Even by the time “Silicon Valley” premiered, Musk was long the owner of a company that became something of a pivotal character in Season 5. Despite the looming allure of Tesla cars that snags Dinesh, Berg reiterated that it didn’t come from any official partnership. (Middleditch also pointed out that the car’s modes in the finale was a nod to Ludicrous Speed from “Spaceballs.”)

“It’s a tech car company and there really is this weird cult-ish thing around Teslas. It seemed like Dinesh would crave that. To date, I certainly have not gotten any financial consideration or a car,” Berg said, adding, “I’m open to receiving one, should they want to send one my way.”

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