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The cast and creators of HBO’s ‘Silicon Valley’ explain how they keep the show fresh

Kara Swisher talks with Mike Judge, Thomas Middleditch, Kumail Nanjiani, Zach Woods and more on Recode Decode.

The cast of “Silicon Valley” HBO

As it begins its fourth season on HBO, “Silicon Valley” is consciously trying to reinvent itself; by the end of the first episode, which aired last Sunday, Pied Piper founder Richard Hendricks finds himself starting from square one on a new idea, potentially losing his friends and co-founders in the process.

On the latest episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher, the show’s cast and creators talked about why things had to change, and what’s ahead. Speaking with Swisher in front of a live audience in San Francisco were Thomas Middleditch, who plays Richard; Kumail Nanjiani, who plays Dinesh; Martin Starr, who plays Gilfoyle; Zach Woods, who plays Jared; Amanda Crew, who plays Monica; and the executive producers, Mike Judge, Alec Berg and Clay Tarver.

“You want to maintain the core of what people like about the characters and not be so reiterative that it feels like, ‘Oh, Jesus, this shtick again,’” Woods said. “And I think one thing that these guys [Mike, Alec and Clay] are amazing at is expanding the characters in a way that makes it feel novel, without abandoning the thing that was the initial point of interest in the character.”

Judge said keeping the show relevant can be a challenge, especially when so much of the tech world is newly captivated by President Trump. But he didn’t rule out the possibility that “Silicon Valley” might tackle topics like H-1B visas in the future.

“We don’t start writing until the end of June, for the next season,” Judge said. “I think we’re going to have to take a month or two and just let all of this stuff steep, and then figure out what of it is resonating. We write the show months before we shoot it, and we shoot it months before it airs, so it’s hard to be topical. The things that we draw on have to be something that will last, so we can’t really chase trends.”

“You’ll see our United episode a year and a half from now,” Nanjiani said.

You can listen to Recode Decode on Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, TuneIn, Stitcher and SoundCloud.

Middleditch said the past year has made him more apprehensive about technology, and whether the invasive potential of the real Silicon Valley is worth the benefits.

“Just because I watched something [on YouTube] for 10 seconds and went ‘Ah, you’re right, life is terrible!’ they’re like, ‘Have more! Haha! Watch the world burn, my friend!’” Middleditch said. “[It’s] not only YouTube — Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, all of these things are sort of silently collecting data of anything from name/address to what you like/dislike, all of that stuff. It is so Big Brother-orian.”

“There are protections on ISPs selling that data they have on us, and that is never going to go away,” Nanjiani said.

“But Tommy’s right,” Woods added. “If you watch just, like, 10 or 11 videos of dog fights, all of a sudden you’re getting all these weird Facebook invites.”

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