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Silicon Valley’s Food Startup Parody Is Pitch Perfect

An HBO comedy hit, a restaurant renovation show, and more TV recommendations for the weekend

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HBO/Silicon Valley

This post originally appeared on March 30, 2018, in “Eat, Drink, Watch” — the weekly newsletter for people who want to order takeout and watch TV. Browse the archives and subscribe now.

Welcome to your weekend. If you’re spending time with family over the next few days, this could be a great opportunity to dig into either Nailed It or The Big Family Cooking Showdown. They’re both relatively kid-friendly, and approach food from a refreshingly non-elitist point of view. Here are some more ideas for what to watch this weekend, including a new episode of an HBO hit, a restaurant renovation-themed special, and an unusual installment of one of cable TV’s most exciting shows.

Silicon Valley’s pizza startup parody

HBO/Silicon Valley

Mike Judge’s HBO comedy Silicon Valley is at its best when it’s lampooning the big, dumb trends of the tech world. And in the Season 5 premiere, “Grow Fast or Die Slow,” Judge and his crew play to their strengths by creating a hilarious parody of food delivery startups.

Much of the episode’s drama revolves around how the show’s protagonists, the tech bros behind scrappy “new internet” startup Pied Piper, get entangled with the creator of a new app called Sliceline, which finds the cheapest delivery pizzas in any given area. Sliceline’s CEO Dunken (Andrew Leeds) applied for a job at Pied Piper but then asked to revoke his resume after his company started to take off. Emboldened by this first taste of success, the pizza app creator poaches all of the people Pied Piper was planning to hire.

Pied Piper’s CEO Richard Hendricks (Thomas Middleditch) quickly sizes up the flaws in Sliceline’s business model and figures out how to exploit them to exact his revenge. And in the sort of twist that audiences have come to expect from Silicon Valley, Pied Piper actually ends up acquiring Sliceline by the episode’s end.

Anyone who reads Eater or Eater SF with any frequency will likely be familiar with tales of food startups that launch with bluster and fizzle out the minute that they prove to be unprofitable. Oftentimes, the more audacious start-ups are acquired by other, more sensible businesses. And pizza companies in particular are always eager to find weirder, more-preposterous ways to deliver food to people.

To further blur the lines between fiction and reality, the day after the premiere, HBO actually had drones deliver pizzas to fans who mentioned the fictional app on Twitter. As one Eater editor discovered, just like in the show, the pizzas appeared to be supplied by Domino’s.

“Grow Fast or Die Slow” is now available to watch for free on HBO.com.

Do you have a favorite fictional TV or movie restaurant? Please reply to this email or join the discussion this weekend over on the Eat, Drink, Watch Facebook group.


Streaming selections du jour

Chip and Joanna Gaines, with avocado toast
HGTV/Fixer Upper

Fixer Upper, “Chip and Jo’s Breakfast Joint”

Watch it on: Amazon Video, HGTV, iTunes

The gist: As part of the farewell season of HGTV’s hit show Fixer Upper, husband-and-wife duo Chip and Joanna Gaines chronicle the inception of Magnolia Table, a casual restaurant they recently opened in Waco, Texas.

People tend to love or hate the Gaineses and their brand of chipper home renovation entertainment. But if you have any interest in the duo, you will likely enjoy the restaurant-themed episode. Chip and Joanna take a sprawling-but-somewhat-grimy 80-year-old diner that Elvis visited during his army days and turn it into an almost painfully on-trend-for-2018 breakfast and lunch cafe, complete with floor tile welcome text, exposed church beams, and shelves full of ferns and succulents. Avocado toast plays a big role in this episode.

Part of the Gaineses’ appeal is that they make complicated home renovations seem easy for anyone who possesses a little pluck and creativity. This episode achieves the same effect for anyone who’s dreamed of opening a restaurant — it’s a nice slice of TV fantasy.

Atlanta, “Helen”

Watch it on: Hulu, FX.com

The gist: One of the most exciting things about Donald Glover’s FX show Atlanta is that you never know what to expect from episode to episode. Last week’s installment features Glover’s character Earn embarking on a trip with his girlfriend Van (Zazie Beetz) to a Bavarian-themed village in Helen, Georgia, so that they can attend an Oktoberfest-like celebration at a beer hall.

Earn feels supremely out of place amidst all the polka-and-beer-infused revelry, and the tension escalates when Van, who’s been coming to this event for years, begins flirting with the bartender. Van and Earn play a game of ping pong to determine the fate of their relationship, but they leave the bar with more questions than answers.

As several people have pointed out, this German beer hall diversion has several references and parallels to Jordan Peele’s groundbreaking horror film Get Out. It’s a great example of why Atlanta is one of the buzziest shows on TV right now.


And in other entertainment news…

Have a great weekend, and if you’re looking for a crowd-pleaser to cook, check out Chris Bianco’s recipe for focaccia.

— Greg Morabito

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