Tech

HBO's 'Silicon Valley' final season riffs on Big Tech's Washington problems and it hits close to home

Key Points
  • HBO's "Silicon Valley" will start its sixth and final season this month.
  • The season's storyline, which dives into the clash between Silicon Valley and the U.S. government, hits a little too close to home, some cast members said at a premiere event Wednesday.
Silicon Valley cast discusses series finale in San Francisco

HBO will premier its sixth and final season of "Silicon Valley" later this month, but its cast says the satirical series is ending at a time when it's hitting closer to home than ever.

"We're a little sentimental because we just wrapped production, but also because we feel like this story is just getting started," said head of HBO comedy programming Amy Gravitt at a premiere event in San Francisco Wednesday, referring to ongoing issues facing Big Tech.

The season will premier Oct. 27 and the first episode dives into Silicon Valley's present-day clash with the U.S. government over monopolies, data privacy, scooters and polyamorous relationships. It comes as Big Tech faces increasing scrutiny from the public, lawmakers and presidential candidates alike.

(Consider this your spoiler warning if you want to wait for the show's premiere.)

In the upcoming season premiere, the main character Richard Hendricks sits before Congress to testify about user data. Nervously sweating, he compared his moral standing to that of Facebook and Google, who he said have gotten away with monopolizing advertising and search, only to return back from Washington to learn his company used the same practices.

During a screening in San Francisco Wednesday, cast members reflected on how interactions with the public and with Silicon Valley companies themselves have morphed since the show first aired in 2014.

"A lot has changed in the way people think about tech since the show has started," said former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, who moderated a panel discussion with cast members after the screening.

"When we first started, it was bout outsiders trying to make a name and a business and now it's become about people literally trying to save the world from people who have torn the fabric of society and broken the world," director Alec Berg said.

Berg and and show creator Mike Judge said even interactions with companies have changed and — at times— proven their on-screen stereotypes.

"At first, at Google, we got a tour from a person who didn't really know what they were doing and we got a very different tour after the show had come out," Judge said. "It was like the media relations people — one after another — who'd say 'Oh it's great how you're making fun of these companies who say they are making the world a better place, now let me show you how we are making the world a better place.'"

Actor Thomas Middleditch, who plays the main character Richard Hendricks, said techies approach him saying the show sometimes hits too close to home.

"It's usually one of two things: 'Oh man, I love the show — it's like you had a camera in the room because that happened to me' or it's 'hey man, I hear the show's really good but I can't watch it because it makes me relive my trauma at a startup.'"

The cast jokingly threw jabs at the audience, which was a combination of Silicon Valley and Hollywood types.

"How do you feel that they are un-self aware, and we can almost go individual by individual" actor Zach Woods said sarcastically, referring to audience members who work in tech.

"Say your net worth, too," Middleditch added.

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