For most of its four seasons, HBO’s Silicon Valley has stubbornly contorted itself to prevent its heroes from ever making it over the mountaintop to the fortunes they so desperately crave. It’s been one of the funniest shows on TV for most of that time, so the constant resetting of the status quo usually isn’t that troubling (other than in the latest finale), but it’s led to an ongoing debate among critics and fans about whether an ongoing version of the show where Pied Piper has succeeded is a good idea.
AMC’s new one-hour comedy Loaded feels in many ways like it was created to help answer that question.
It wasn’t, of course — Loaded, another of AMC’s UK co-productions (it debuted on Channel 4 a few months ago, and premieres on AMC Monday at 10; I’ve seen the first two episodes), is a remake of an Israeli show, Mesudarim, that premiered a decade ago — but the overlap in terms of the world, the character types, and the success/failure ratio is hard to ignore if you’ve spent any time with Richard Hendrix and friends. Intentional or not, it plays as an English-accented Silicon Valley that begins just as the guys have all become very rich. The opening sequence is literally the four of them checking their phones while waiting for their bank balances to register the £14 million they’ve each been paid for selling their Cat Factory gaming app to an American company.
Josh (Jim Howick) is the brains of the group, and the Richard-style voice of doom and gloom. Leon (Samuel Anderson) is a showoff who’s half as cool and smooth as Erlich Bachman thinks he is. Pathologically shy and polite Ewan (Johnny Sweet) even physically resembles Jared a bit, while eccentric recovering addict Watto (Nick Helm) has elements of Erlich, Big Head, and Gilfoyle.
Now, Silicon Valley didn’t invent the archetypes it’s playing with, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the four leads of the Israeli version were similar. But they’re also so evocative of a show that was just airing new episodes a few weeks ago that comparisons become inevitable.
So if we pretend for a moment that this is actually a mirror universe Silicon where the guys make a lot of money but still get to run the company, how does it play? Likably but not hilariously, which may owe more to the different creative teams (many of the episodes were written by Jon Brown, who’s worked on Veep but mostly on UK series like Misfits) than to the financial statuses of the main characters.