Whew, we made it to the finish line! It's the final episode of "Start-Ups: Silicon Valley." At last.
But what's that we hear? Nothing but crickets? No fanfare or fireworks? Nope. A show that began with loads of hype and chatter and controversy is quietly slinking off to the TV graveyard. Ratings for "Start-Ups" started small and got smaller. And Bravo basically threw in the towel, moving the show out of prime time and essentially burning it off with back-to-back episodes this week.
Before we get to our finale recap, let's briefly examine why "Start-Ups" flopped.
The obvious place to begin is the utter disdain Silicon Valley exhibited toward the series. Long before an episode even aired, Valley denizens made it a target of their wrath, figuring that the show would be more interested in parties and hook-ups than the serious work being done there -- that it would cast them in a bad light.
OK, that's one factor. The show never enjoyed a home-field advantage. But if "Start-Ups" was going to be a hit, it needed to build some appeal in other parts of the country. And it certainly didn't make a great first impression along those lines in the pilot episode when one of the cast member took digs at life and attitudes in the Midwest.
The cast also predominantly came off as smug and self-absorbed. Of course, reality TV is full of smug, self-absorbed people who make for great characters. But the Silicon crew had the double whammy of being self-centered and uber-intelligent. Many of us prefer our reality characters to make us feel better about ourselves (See: "Jersey Shore"). We don't mind the smug folk if we feel superior, or if they make us laugh. These six pretty nerds rarely made us laugh while working on projects that few of us can relate to.
But the biggest problem for the show was that it spent too much time playing to the middle. In other words, it didn't have enough geek insider stuff to entice Valley viewers. But, on the other hand, it didn't have enough juicy, amped-up drama to woo the "Real Housewives" crowd.
Anyway, that's my quick and cursory post-mortem. Let's see how this thing winds up:
We begin with the sound of grunts and gasps. Sarah and David are in a gym working out, and Sarah is looking very cute in her tube socks. David, however, is tense. The launch party for his Goal Sponsors app is just a few days away and he's got lots of work to do.
Speaking of that launch party, David has enlisted Sarah to bring in some sponsors. But when she tells him that she has singed up a vodka company, he's not very happy. After all, a vodka company isn't the best match for an app that stresses health and wellness.
There's also tension in the land of Ben and Hermione. The siblings are going at it again. They still haven't got the investment money and they've got bills to pay -- in addition to lots of work to do. But Ben is concerned that Hermy isn't pulling her weight -- that she's too focused on other projects, including an event she has coming up next month in South America.
Hermy, as is her habit, begins to cry. Ben tells us that, when this happens, the brotherly side of him wants to reach out and give her a cosoling hug, but the businessman side of him wants to slap her silly.
As for Hermy? Well, she thinks Ben is "acting like a (jerk)."
In the meantime, Kim is still contemplating a move to New York to be closer to the fashion industry and Dwight is moving out of his Mountain View apartment to San Francisco. Regarding the latter, we're very impressed that a computer nerd is strong enough to carry his couch out to the moving truck all by himself.
The majority of the episode revolves around David's launch party in Palo Alto.
He's having nightmares that no one will show up. He's freaking out. The boy is seriously stressed.
When the big day arrives, plenty of buff, fitness types show up to populate the sponsorship booths. Even Ben and Hermy have a booth for their Ignite app. And Sarah is there to lend her "support."
Of course, we all know that she's really there to bring the drama. At one point, Hermione is invited to the stage to say a few words about Ignite. She's going to turn it into a little contest: Three guys from the crowd will engage in a push-up duel and the winner will get a date with Hermy (Lord, we love this woman). Just one request: No gay guys, please.
But Sarah knows that one of the contestants is very much gay. In an effort to grab some of the spotlight away from Hermy, she approaches the stage to theatrically object that no lesbian has been invited to compete. David, trying to avoid a scene, playfully puts his arm around her and ushers Sarah away with a smile.
Now file this away for future use: He has BARELY touched her.
Sometime after David's launch party, Ben and Hermione meet with their investors, Amy and Michael, who want the sibs to demonstrate their app for some other big-money people. The folk potentially could throw as much as $10 million into the project.
But B&H are wondering why they have to go through this drill when Michael and Amy have yet to even fork over the $500,000 they pledged three weeks ago.
"It's a complete waste of time," Hermione grumbles, insisting that she could be doing other things like shopping, or washing her hair, or swimming ... or "masturbating." (Did we mention that we love this woman? She's one of the few people to really "pop" on this show).
Still, Ben and Hermy go through with the "draining" pitch session, and after it's done, Michael finally writes them that $500,000 check. High-fives all around!
But enough happiness. Back at Palo Alto, Sarah has invited David to a "business meeting," theoretically to assess the launch party. But really, it's an ambush. Our little drama queen doesn't like the fact that her pal, David, is friends with Hermy and Ben, her mortal enemies.
She complains that they were given a booth at the launch event, but she didn't get one. David says he didn't know she needed one. Then comes another Sarah torpedo: She accuses him of "physically assaulting" her at the launch party.
David's mouth practically drops to the table. Say what?
Yes, Sarah, replies. She was a victim of a "sudden physical attack." David "tackled" her.
David calls her "delusional child." But who's right? Let's go to the instant replay: Yes, we see that David hardly laid a hand on her. That there was nothing brutal or mean about it. He wins the challenge -- at least with this referee.
It's a sad, watershed moment for David. The meeting -- and the friendship -- are over. This incident has made him "second-guess every moment I've ever had with her." He's been "blind" all this time to Sarah's devious ways. And for one of the few times during the run of this show, we actually empathize with him.
Later, after some time has obviously passed, we meet up with Kim and Dwight, two of the more sane members of this cast and, therefore, the recipients of much less camera time. Dwight breaks the happy news to Kim that he has sold Carsabi to Facebook. It's a big "wow" moment that would have been even bigger had we been told the sales price.
Kim has news, too: She's hired a lead engineer for her project, but she is floored by Dwight's good fortune.
"I'm so proud of you," she says. "You're going to be able to buy more than one pair of pants!"
Then, in a hasty attempt to wrap things up, the show jumps two months into the future and fills us in on what each "character" has been up to before we leave them forever ...
-- Hermione, our favorite, did, indeed, make that trip to South America and had a blast. In hindsight, working with her brother has been one of the most "traumatic" experiences of her life.
-- Ben also has regrets over mixing business with family. Still, he now has a finished prototype for Insight and it looks great. But he's still busy trying to raise $10 million to take the prototype into production.
-- David is "very proud" of himself. Goal Sponsors is now live and available for download. But it's not making him any money just yet and his boyfriend is still paying the rent.
-- Sarah says she regrets the fallout with David and admits that she needs to "work on myself." (One of the biggest understatements of 2012). She and her itty-bitty dog are no longer living at the Four Seasons. Sarah, we're told, is "looking for her next adventure." (She's lucky that hardly anyone watched this show, or she'd never get hired anywhere).
-- Kim is shown trying on various clothes and she's knockout gorgeous in a snug blue dress. (But we digress). She says she's "swinging for the fences" on Shonova, which is now accepting beta users. Kim plans to have a launch party and turn a profit within a year.
-- Dwight has "mixed emotions" about selling Carsabi, a project in which he poured hours of sweat. (One of the misfires of this show is that it didn't spend more time with this driven, funny and flawed, but genuinely interesting, geek). He's now officially a Facebook employee, but ever the entrpreneur, he's already working on another start-up.
And, oh yeah, he finally bought a bed.