Silicon Valley is known well by many Americans, as it was hugely popular when it first began airing on HBO. In total, there are six seasons, and a total of 53 episodes. In summary, the series acts as a parody of culture in Silicon Valley, with the central character Richard Hendricks coming up with a startup called Pied Piper. As he faces competition from bigger corporations, he goes through various struggles to keep up momentum. Notably, this show has received five nominations in a row at the Primetime Emmy Awards.


There is a slightly different progression of the plot for each series of Silicon Valley. However, the story begins with a developer called Richard Hendricks creating an app which has a data compression algorithm far outperforming anything similar in the field. Calling it Pied Piper, he makes the decision to leave his job at Hooli and develop it further on his own as a startup company. As part of Erlich Bachman’s business incubator, he takes on fellow residents Bertram Gilfoyle and Dinesh Chugtai, plus a fellow Hooli defector called Jared Dunn to be his first employees. However, Gavin Belson – the CEO at Hooli – soon catches on to Hendricks’ idea and makes plans to create his own, better version. 

Cast and characters

  • Thomas Middleditch – Richard Hendricks
  • TJ Miller – Erlich Bachman
  • Josh Brener – Nelson Bighetti
  • Martin Starr – Bertram Gilfoyle
  • Kumail Nanjiani – Dinesh Chugtai
  • Christopher Evan Welch – Peter Gregory
  • Amanda Crew – Monica Hall 
  • Zach Woods – Donald ‘Jared’ Dunn
  • Matt Ross – Gavin Belson
  • Suzanne Cryer – Laurie Bream
  • Jimmy O Yang – Jian-Yang
  • Stephen Tobolowsky – ‘Action’ Jack Barker
  • Chris Diamantopoulos – Russ Hanneman

Filming locations

A whole host of filming locations were used as the production of the six seasons of Silicon Valley was underway. For example, the fictional campus of Hooli had its exterior shots filmed in Southern California at two different campuses for California State University. The external shots for Erlich’s incubator were filmed in Woodland Hills, a suburb of Los Angeles. Also, the TechCrunch Disrupt Conference was filmed at the Concourse Exhibition Center in San Francisco.


Interestingly, the man behind the co-creation of this series – Mike Judge – has actually worked in a Silicon Valley startup during the trajectory of his career. Notably, it was in 1987 when he was a programmer at a company called Parallax. While he disliked the atmosphere and company culture, quitting after just three months, he was inspired later in life to create a show about the companies in the Silicon Valley region.

Those who have already seen Silicon Valley will no doubt remember the billionaire Peter Gregory from the first few seasons. Tragically, he passed away from lung cancer in December 2013 after finishing his scenes for the first five episodes. Instead of reshooting his scenes, they decided to kill off his character in season 2 and leave him in the show.

Episodes and reception

There are six seasons of Silicon Valley, and there are between 7 and 10 episodes in each instalment. The show aired a new season each year between 2014 and 2019. With a single camera setup, each episode runs for around 30 to 40 minutes on average. The production companies behind Silicon Valley are Judgemental Films, Altschuler Krinsky Works, Alec Berg Inc, 3 Arts Entertainment and HBO Entertainment. Furthermore, the series is distributed by Warner Bros Television Distribution. 

One could argue that the critical reception of the show would depend on whether the viewer has any experience of Silicon Valley life. For example, Elon Musk said after viewing the first episode in the series that he didn’t feel Mike Judge had ever been to Burning Man – which he felt best resembles the culture of Silicon Valley. However, there was also positive reception throughout the show’s initial airing and beyond. Notably, the show never went below a 94% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes (with the exception of season 5, which received 89%). Impressively, season 3 received 100% on the critical aggregator site.

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HBO Max is built around HBO programming, with all of the titles people have enjoyed watching over the years being put in one central hub. There are also several notable acquisitions – for example, Friends was taken off Netflix in January 2020 in preparation for its move to the streamer. There is content from WarnerMedia companies such as DC Entertainment, New Line Cinema, Castle Rock Entertainment, The CW, CNN, TruTV, TBS, TNT, Crunchyroll, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Boomerang, Hanna-Barbera, Turner Classic Movies and Turner Entertainment.

Pros and Cons


  • A strong library of HBO content, with classics that people associate with the brand.
  • Unique user interface with picks from influencers and talent.
  • Investments in popular titles such as South Park and the Studio Ghibli films.


  • Higher price point than other streaming services on the market.
  • Parent company is a telecoms business, so is inexperienced in video streaming.
  • A later launch date than Apple TV+ and Disney+ – will people still be considering new services?

Types of content available

In July 2019, it was reported that HBO Max would feature 10,000 hours of content upon launch. This library features exclusives such as the complete run of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, The Big Bang Theory and South Park. All 21 of Studio Ghibli’s animated films are also part of the library, with notable titles including Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro.

Original content includes DC Comics shows from Greg Berlanti called Green Lantern and Strange Adventures, a Riverdale spinoff called Katy Keene, an adaptation of The Last of the Mohicans, Grease: Rydell High, a comedy called Made for Love and a limited series called Station Eleven.

All 11 seasons of the modern Doctor Who have been picked up by HBO Max, and there are further seasons being planned. When they have made their debut on BBC America, they will move to the streaming service.

The DC Extended Universe superhero movies are also available, as are the Godzilla and King Kong films. The Lord of the Rings franchise is a part of the library, too. However, Harry Potter’s Wizarding World won’t be available until 2025 due to an exclusive streaming rights deal purchased by NBCUniversal.

J.J. Abrams signed a $250 million production deal to produce new content for HBO Max, and a number of original series can be expected on the platform. Other originals with big names behind them include at least two original movies from Reese Witherspoon’s production company Hello Sunshine. 

Further recognisable names include The Big Bang Theory’s Kaley Cuoco producing and starring in The Flight Attendant, Baby Driver star Ansel Elgort appearing in Tokyo Vice, Anna Kendrick’s work on romantic comedy Love Life and a film from comedian Rose Matafeo called Starstruck. 

Existing content being picked up includes a Gossip Girl reboot, an animated Gremlins prequel and a Dune spinoff called Dune: The Sisterhood.

Top HBO Max TV shows and movies

  • Made for Love – A woman married to a tech CEO tries to escape him. However, he becomes obsessed with finding her and forcing her to connect with him using brain chips.
  • Dune: The Sisterhood – A series comprising ten episodes which is based on the Dune sci-fi novels. The Bene Gesserit women are focused on.
  • The Flight Attendant – The titular character wakes up next to a dead body in a hotel room in Dubai. Kaley Cuoco from The Big Bang Theory stars and produces.
  • Gossip Girl – The classic series is back in a reboot, centering on rich teenagers who go to private schools in New York City.
  • Tokyo Vice – Centers on the Tokyo Metropolitan police and stars Baby Driver actor Ansel Elgort.
  • The Boondocks – The animated series makes a comeback in a revival on HBO Max. The original is also available in the library.
  • Legendary – A competition series which focuses on people who participate in voguing battles. 
  • Love Life – Starring Anna Kendrick, this is a romantic comedy series spanning half an hour.
  • Raised by Wolves – Ridley Scott is the director for this science fiction series.
  • Karma – A competition show for kids who solve puzzles and challenges while off the grid.
  • Americanah – A limited series, starring Lupita Nyong’o. It focuses on a young Nigerian woman who moves to the US.
  • Circe – A limited series based on the novel. The central focus is the Greek mythological god Circe.
  • Looney Tunes – There are 80 new shorts, each lasting 11 minutes. Classic characters such as Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck make a return.
  • Adventure Time – The TV series is back with four specials, each of which is an hour in duration.
  • Gremlins – The Animated Series – The creatures from the two movies make a comeback in an animated series on the streamer.
  • Station Eleven – A dystopian series which focuses on how the world goes on after most of its population is killed in a pandemic.
  • The Greatest Space – A competition series featuring contests between interior designers.
  • Grease – Rydell High – Based on the classic 1950s Broadway and movie musical, this musical TV show brings back original characters and introduces new ones.
  • Craftopedia – A competition where kids complete crafting challenges.

User interface

Content on HBO Max is available for offline viewing, which means you will be able to keep up to date with your favorite shows while on the go. Furthermore, there are measures such as a PIN system in place for parental control. This way, you can be sure that kids won’t log into the streamer without your knowledge and watch content which is inappropriate for them.

HBO Max is similar to Disney Plus in that it has content hubs based on brands – much like Disney has hubs for Star Wars, Marvel and so on. Another measure is ‘co-viewing’ homepages, with suggestions that represent the viewing tastes of multiple people in a household. This makes viewing easier for couples or families, as a profile won’t just contain recommendations for one person.

While Netflix provides recommendations based on their famous algorithm, HBO Max focuses on featuring pics from ‘talent’ and ‘influencers’. There are short videos alongside the content they choose. This is similar to the way some physical book shops recommend particular books, with a note on why they have been chosen. Some of the talent featured on HBO Max includes Bill Hader and Regina King. 

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