If you’re like me, and you’re watching Veep on HBO Go at 11 PM because your 10 o’clock hour is occupied by a critically acclaimed, soon-to-depart series on another channel, you might have missed that Veep this season is preceded by Silicon Valley, a searing take on internet start-up culture and the annoying tech bros it breeds.
Selina Meyer’s campaign stop in the Valley isn’t a crossover, but it does answer an age-old question: What does Armando Iannucci think of America’s tech bros?
Not much, judging from the events of “Clovis,” which takes its title from a fictional company Selina and crew visit that seems to be a mashup of Facebook, Google, Reddit, and the Circle from Dave Eggers’s 2013 novel, The Circle. (Note the cultish employees who correct Selina every time she pronounces the founder’s name, Craig, with a soft “e” instead of the apparently correct long “a.”)
Selina, who is so bad at interacting with the normals, is even more out-of-place with the techies. There are jabs at Google Glass—Clovis manufactures a similarly functioning watch—word clouds, and net neutrality. Maybe the biggest real-world issue addressed is Craig’s desire for a repatriation tax holiday, something Google and Apple have pressed for while they keep their overseas earnings overseas. He seems to think offering 50,000 tablet computers for one of Selina’s education initiatives sets up a quid pro quo for that tax break.
“Tablets? Cool. No taxes? Awesome,” Craig says.
Tax holidays for tech companies aside, Meyer-land is mostly stable this week after an early bump from a California mom who chides Selina for not opposing natural-gas fracking. Gary is suffering from shoulder pain, a fact he states loudly when informing everyone that the fit gentleman who entered his hotel room was a masseur. (Selina and Amy think differently.)
And back in Washington, Jonah continues to spin Ryantology into something vomited up by Breitbart.com. Jonah’s screeching, badly animated rants against Selina are mean, but viral enough to the point where Clovis is willing to shell out $4 million for Ryantology.
“Jonah with money,” Selina grumbles. “God almighty. It’s like if Hitler could fly.”
Lucky for the rest of the universe, Jonad is stupid enough to fall for a trap orchestrated by Ben and Dan to falsely accuse Selina’s rival, Danny Chung, of committing war crimes in Iraq. Oh, the internet.
Selina: Yeah, she’s uncomfortable in the Valley and she can’t figure out how to work Clovis’s “space toilet,” but she survives her time with the tech bros and manages to throw Chung off his game for a bit.
Amy: Clovis’s chief financial officer wants to draw Amy away from Selina with the offer of a huge salary and an “open working space.” It’s tempting, but Amy is enough of a Luddite to see the idiocy of the social media industry’s workplace temperament. And she’s still counting on being named campaign manager. As Selina points out, anyone over the age of 30 is probably going to end up as the janitor.
Ben: Kevin Dunn continues to be a great addition to the regular cast. His stomach might be bloated with whiskey and vinegar, but dropping that hint about Chung to Dan is the slickest move he’s made yet.
Dan: Smashing a burrito in Jonah’s face was more immediately gratifying, but coercing Jonah to run with the fake torture story lets him get the better of his mortal enemy yet again.
Mike Judge: Silicon Valley is a very funny show and if we all weren’t flipping away to Mad Men at 10, the Game of Thrones-Silicon Valley-Veep lineup is the most solid Sunday-night arrangement HBO’s had in years. Also, if any place deserves a weekly skewering as much as Washington, it’s Northern California.
Jonah: Ryantology goes viral, Clovis comes with money. Jonah runs a fake story, money goes away. Farewell, Ryantology. You will not be missed. But Jonad undoubtedly has plenty left of awful to dole out.
Gary: Years of bag-handling finally ruined his shoulder. And nobody really cares.
Google Glass: Clovis’s internet-capable watch—the “Smartch,” as Craig calls it—is less off-putting than Google’s wearable moral conundrum, but just as clumsy. During the test run, Selina asks the watch to load her website, MeetMeyer.com. Instead, it loads MeatMeyer.com, in which Selina is portrayed by filleted meat, and then MeatingMeyer.com, in which Selina’s face is digitally placed on female porn stars in action. Surely a page ripped from some Glasshole’s accidental porn finding.
HBO digital marketing: A WHOIS search for MeetMeyer.com shows that HBO registered the domain back in September, but when you enter the URL into your browser, there’s nothing. Domain squatting isn’t cool, HBO!
Medieval France: If Clovis were in the real world, it would be that social media website you tell all your friends you’re not a member of even though you actually have a secret account. But it seems like a pretty dumb company and no way to honor the legacy of Clovis I, who united all the Frankish tribes in the late fifth century and founded the Merovingian dynasty to become the first king of what we now call France.