Series creator Mike Judge talks replacing T.J. Miller as the season 4 finale marks an end of an era for HBO's tech-based comedy Silicon Valley, as the episode is the last for the pivotal cast member as a part of the main ensemble.
Miller and HBO announced late last month that the actor's contract would not be renewed for season 5 and that his character, the scene-stealing owner of the crew's incubator headquarters, Erlich Bachmann, would be written out of the show in some way. With Miller's star on the rise and the show looking to head in a new direction, the decision seems to have been mutual by both sides that it was time for a shakeup.
In an interview with THR about the status quo shift for season 5, Silicon Valley co-creator Mike Judge addressed the challenges that will come with replacing one of the biggest comedic highlights of the show. There are some spoilery bits about the finale that may lead those who haven't seen it yet to avoid the rest of the article, but in this selected bit, Judge talks about the importance of finding a way to fill that void that Miller leaves with his departure:
"We've talked a little bit about it. We start writing the next season on Monday. A lot of times in the writing, it's almost a struggle because we have a lot of characters in the show and a lot of good ones. I'll certainly miss having him in the show. I don't think we're going to say, "Hey, here's a new character to replace him," or anything like that. New characters come along. The tech world is so rich with weird characters. I think we still have more characters we can still pull out of the bag. But I also think we can do a lot more with Suzanne Cryer's character and certainly Zach and Jian Yang. I'm actually looking forward. I think we can shake things up in a way."
Judge certainly makes it sound like the creators of Silicon Valley are looking for the silver lining of such a big loss, in particular by beefing up the roles of characters like Zach Woods' Jared Dunn, who had a big breakout season this year and could slide nicely into the scene-stealer role left vacant by Miller. When asked if Erlich will reappear further down the line, Judge seemed unsure himself what the answer to that question will be:
"That I don't know for sure, but that's probably the last [you'll see him]. Down the road, if there's a season six, I don't know. You never know. But that's the last for a while at least."
Miller's work as Erlich undoubtably gave him one of the funniest performances of his career so far, as the writing played right into his best tendencies of insult-based, intricately worded dialogue. It certainly isn't surprising, however, that as his star grows, his interest in working on the show waned. This leaves it to the rest of Silicon Valley's superb cast like Woods, Thomas Middleditch, Martin Starr, Kumali Nanjiani, and Josh Brener to pick up the comedic slack. With the chemistry they've developed over the course of four seasons, it certainly can be done. Most of all, this'll be a huge change for Jin-Yiang, who will no longer have Erlich around to torment and mock with his massive fortune and superiority.
Silicon Valley returns for season 5 in 2018 on HBO.