Geiger's Cultuer Counter: Duality of HBO


Sundays are historically the best night in television. Inversely, Fridays are where shows go to die since viewers are out partying, dining, or catching a movie at the theater. On Sunday, people are home and relaxing before the start of the workweek. That’s why the networks air their critically acclaimed programs like “Homeland,” “Mad Men,” “Downton Abbey,” and others. HBO is no different.

Yet the breadth of HBO’s Sunday lineup is worth noting. The masks of the Greek Muses Thalia and Melpomene come out swinging with A+ drama and comedy. Yes, every network doesn’t pigeonhole themselves in one genre. That’s why there’s “The Simpsons” and “24,” along with “The Big Bang Theory” and “NCIS.” However, I can’t remember the last time I went from tears of sadness to tears of joy within 90 minutes on the same channel.

In “The Leftovers,” based on Tom Perrotta’s book of the same name, two percent of the world’s population vanished instantly without reason. It doesn’t sound like much, but that translates to 140 million people.

The series focuses on characters coping with loss and challenged beliefs. A cult called the Guilty Remnant forms to serve as a living reminder of what the grieving are trying to forget.

Almost everyone lost someone they knew, yet there’s one place—called Miracle—in Texas that had no one disappear. Folks start to believe the town has mystical powers and trek there from all over in hopes of finding answers. Kevin Garvey, the protagonist, becomes chief of police there to keep order in the poplar destination. There was a strict waitlist but at the start of the third season three years later, which began April 16, all are welcome.

The town appears to have healed the wife of Matt Jamison, a preacher. She comes out of catatonic state and bears a child. Though Jamison is happy now, he believes something will happen on the seven-year anniversary of the Sudden Departure.

In the season’s second episode it’s revealed that Kevin’s partner Nora got a tattoo to cover one already there. The previous one was of her children’s names, who both departed along with their father. She purposefully broke her arm in a car door to hide the new tattoo in a cast. I sat there stunned and shaking, wondering what I would do in a similar situation.

Don’t watch expecting answers—this is created by Damon Lindelof of “LOST” fame after all—but watch for a heartfelt search of purpose and the most moving performances this spring.

I’m now going to give you a list of tech companies and I want you to study them. Kabbage, Sprinklr, Tumblr, Tubber, Pied Piper, Peeple, Hulu, Hooli and Hurdly .

Do you know which ones of those are real and which are fake? The lampooning of California’s Silicon Valley is the central theme of HBO’s “Silicon Valley,” which I watch as a chaser to “The Leftovers.” There’s no way I’d get a good night’s sleep with that much existential dread.

The comedy focuses on six colleagues working on a compression algorithm for their new startup called Pied Piper. The code makes file sizes irrelevant, meaning that any photo or video can be uploaded or downloaded without issues. That kind of technology draws the attention of Hooli—a stand in for a Google/Microsoft hybrid that the developers left before going solo—who then wants to copy it or buy them out.

Created by Mike Judge of “Office Space,” “Idiocracy” and “King of the Hill” fame, the show smartly blends hilarious moments with relatable plot and conflict. Each time there’s a success there’s an equally ironic setback in the most “Curb Your Enthusiasm” way possible.

The cast is excited to show an uptick in active users to venture capitalists in hopes of receiving more funds. However, the increase is due to buying clicks from a click farm in Bangladesh.

In the third season, that thankfully began just a week after “The Leftovers,” the gang is more desperate than ever. CEO Richard Hendricks, played by Thomas Middleditch, kidnaps an investor in a fake Uber to stage an elevator pitch for the algorithm. You can probably guess how well it goes.

Shortly thereafter there’s a genuine increase in the user base, but it turns out the majority of them are under 13. That’s a violation of the COPPA Act so they then gladly agree to sell the product to their former boss, leaving Hooli in legal hot water. Hooli has it’s own non-Pied Piper related problems, such as moving the company’s partner to a subbasement because he took advantage of the private jet.

HBO balances the weekly emotional whiplash like no other network. I may not know my plans for every weekend this summer, but I know what I’m doing every Sunday night. I hope to see you there, too.

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