“Silicon Valley’s” fifth season won’t just be the “most different season we’ve had so far,” as star Kumail Nanjiani teased, but will also address one of Hollywood’s biggest headlines — gender equality and the treatment of women.
While Nanjiani said the show wouldn’t directly address the #MeToo movement, he told Variety at PaleyFest in Los Angeles on Sunday, he said “there is a plot that goes over a couple of episodes later in the season that does talk about that movement, not directly, but what that movement is about is definitely tackled.”
Co-star Zach Woods added, “It’s hopefully not too on the nose, but that informs some of the plots in the middle of the season.”
The show, which centers around four guys creating a startup in the tech industry, has long been criticized for it’s lack of female characters and roles for women, which star Thomas Middleditch said was intended to mirror the gender breakdown of the real Silicon Valley. “The creators, their response has always been that their objective is to accurately portray it and that’s kind of what it is,” he said. “Hopefully that’s something that will change, but not something for the show to do.”
During the panel, the cast of the show, along with executive producers Mike Judge and Alec Berg, also discussed what may be Season 5’s biggest change, the absence of T.J. Miller’s Erlich Bachman, who was written off the show at the end of Season 4. Berg compared it to the difficulty of redirecting the show when Christopher Evan Welch, who played Peter Gregory, died in 2013 following Season 1 of the show.
“We had this central character that we were not going to have on the show anymore, so we had kind of been through it before, so we knew going in ‘Okay, this is a surmountable challenge. It’s not going to be fun, and it’s going to be difficult,'” Berg said during the panel. “Also, the Erlich character was getting harder and harder to write him into the show because he wasn’t someone who worked at the company, he was their past investor and their landlord and we started doing stories about how he was feeling marginalized and he wasn’t really one of the gang and what he was doing about that.”
The producer added that this issue was becoming even more pressing in Season 5, when the startup was moving out of Erlich’s house and into an office space. “It was at a point where it was going to be really hard to find an organic way to get the Erlich character into the show anyway, so from that standpoint it was kind of time. And then T.J., for a number of reasons, just decided that his time had come and gone and he wanted to move on, so we had the narrative challenge to keep him in the show and then it became ‘OK well, maybe it’s just time to not have him on the show,'” Berg said.
During the panel for the new season, which will follow the Pied Piper gang as they get their first taste of tech success, the cast also discussed Amanda Crew‘s role as one of the only women on the show, yet the decision for her not to have a romantic relationship with any of the male leads. Crew joked that before looking at new scripts she thinks ,”If there is a f—ing love scene I’m out.”
While there have been rumors that Season 5 will be “Silicon Valley’s” last, Judge hinted there could be more. “Looking at these episodes, it kind of takes on a new life, kind of a second wind,” he stated. “It could go on for a while, you never know.”
“Silicon Valley” season 5 premieres March 25 on HBO.