Since it’s inception, Silicon Valley has been one of the smartest and funniest shows on HBO. It hit the ground running without the usual learning curve that a comedy series must progress through to find its voice. Over the first three seasons, we saw the gang develop a platform worthy of millions of dollars only to lose their potential fortune through a series of bad decisions and unfortunate coincidences. The ups and downs of the initial seasons documented the struggles of the group as they try to survive in the competitive tech industry with realism and humor.
Silicon Valley is now in season four and the dynamics have changed. So far this season, most of the guys (minus Richard) have had a taste of success through the accidental develop of PiperChat (to which Dinesh lost a potential love interest). Dinesh eventually became the CEO he always dreamed of becoming, although it was short lived because he did not want to bother users with accepting the terms and conditions. This resulted in him potentially being fined billions of dollars until he sold the app to Gavin Belson who then inherited the as yet unknown problem of a plethora of underage users. As a result, Gavin was fired from Hooli.
In the meantime, Richard is pursing his next grand idea of a new internet that runs off of a peer-to-peer network. The only problem is that the patent he needs to file to implement his idea has already been claimed by one Gavin Belson. Richard cannot accept defeat under these circumstances so goes into business with the now desperate Gavin.
While the main narrative has been transpiring, Erlich has been helping Jian-Yang get in front of potential investors for what he thinks is a new VR app through a conversation with Bighead. Erlich finds out during an investor meeting that Bighead misheard Jian-Yang’s pronunciation of Octopus as Oculus. Jian-Yang app is actually proposing a program that only provides octopus recipes. Erlich plays off the investors misunderstanding of Jian-Yang’s broken English on the spot, and says the app is actually SeeFood and identifies any type of food using only a photo. Jian-Yang most definitely disagrees with this direction.
T.J. Miller‘s portrayal of Erlich Bachman has been one of the many bright spots of Silicon Valley since its inception. His gruff, pot-laden, bravado always provides an unexpected, gut-busting laugh in the midst of all the tech talk. Who else could pull off lines like, “It’s a shame, Bell Biv Dinesh, but unfortunately… that chain is poison.” Or, “Jian-Yang… motherfuck… I gave you the ability to spin gold, but instead you spun pubic hair with shit in it… and gravel… and corn…” I could go on with numerous other irreverent one-liners, but the point of this post is that T.J. Miller will no longer be portraying Erlich Bachman after the current season of Silicon Valley.
His absence will leave a hole in what has been a near perfect camaraderie amongst the current cast. Each member of the cast plays their part extremely well, and it’s hard to imagine how the absence of T.J. Miller will be filled. What seems to be biggest factor of their success is that the cast are not just coworkers, but they are also friends off the screen. It appears that T.J. is leaving because of bigger opportunities, such as Deadpool 2 and the Emoji movie. His appearance on Silicon Valley will leave a hole that we hope can be filled, and if anyone is up to the task, it is Mike Judge. We wish T.J. all the best with his new opportunities. We can only hope that there will be an Erlich cameo (or two) in future episodes.