It looks like there is bad blood between T.J. Miller and the people behind HBO’s Silicon Valley. After announcing his exit from the award-winning comedy series, the actor revealed the reason why he is leaving after four years.
On Monday’s finale, Miller’s character Erlich Bachman was written off of Silicon Valley. After following Gavin Belson (Matt Ross) to Tibet (and ruining his self-exile), the two found an opium den on the way back to China to save Jack Barker (Stephen Tobolowsky) who was being held hostage in a smartphone factory. To get rid of him, Gavin paid a man to keep Erlich in the opium den for five years.
Thus ends the story of Erlich Bachman and his aspirations to succeed in Silicon Valley. Miller will not reprise the role in Season 5 nor in any future episodes.
In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the actor explained his abrupt exit and why he does not intend to make any appearances on the show in the future. Part of it, he says, is his less-than-satisfactory working relationship with the show producer Alec Berg who refuses to see the cyclical plot of the series.
“The only thing that you can talk down about the show and about Alec Berg, the showrunner for the first couple years, is that it’s cyclical,” he pointed out. “If they fail, then they succeed, and then if they succeed, they fail. It’s over and over. That’s an old type of sitcom. That’s Seinfeld, where Alec Berg used to work. It’s recycling, it’s network. This is HBO. And so I thought, what if suddenly the whole thing changed?”
Erlich’s absence on the show, Miller thinks, could move the plot forward. “Richard [Thomas Middleditch] doesn’t have a foil,” he explained. “Jian Yang [Jimmy O. Yang] comes to prominence.”
He also pointed out that Erlich never really belonged in Pied Piper or anywhere on the show. The character’s only friend is Jian Yang who clearly hates him.
However, even before the actor announced his exit, there were already plans to limit his appearances on the show. Because his schedule was becoming too busy (Miller is set to appear in The Emoji Movie, Ready Player One and Deadpool 2), HBO offered to let him do three to five episodes (out of ten) per season.
Despite his exit, however, Miller, who does not watch the show, would tune in every now and then to see his former co-stars at work. “If I have a terrible day, I’ll probably tune in to see what Zach Woods said on an episode because — you know — he’s a winner,” he said.
T.J. Miller Replaced
In a separate interview, Silicon Valley co-creator Mike Judge addressed the challenge of replacing Miller and his fan-favorite character Erlich Bachman. He shared that they will start writing Season 5 this week, and they plan to expand some characters, not just introduce a direct replacement.
As is the nature of the tech world and, therefore, the show, new characters come and go. He assured that they “still have more characters [to] pull out of the bag.” However, the focus will be on giving other characters such Suzanne Cryer’s Laurie Brim and Zach Wood’s Donald “Jared” Dunn bigger roles. It will also be interesting to see what the future has in store for Jian Yang who no longer have Erlich to prank and torment with his incredibly good luck and enormous fortune.
Judge thinks that Season 4’s finale will be the last that fans will see Erlich. However, he keeps the door open for the potential return of the character somewhere down the road. “You never know,” he commented.
Silicon Valley has already been renewed by HBO to Season 5. It will return to television sometime in 2018.
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