‘Silicon Valley’ and T.J. Miller Part Ways: How Season 5 Can Survive Without Him

T.J. Miller became a fan favorite and critics' darling on "Silicon Valley." How the show moves on without him will define its future in a big way.
Silicon Valley Season 4 TJ Miller
John P. Johnson/HBO

Silicon Valley” without Erlich Bachman sounds a little too quiet for our comfort.

Vulture is reporting Season 4 will be the last for T.J. Miller. Despite a renewal for Season 5, which was announced Thursday morning, the series’ producers and star have mutually agreed to move forward without Miller.

“In Erlich Bachman, T.J. has brought to life an unforgettable character, and while his presence on the show will be missed, we appreciate his contribution and look forward to future collaborations,” an unnamed HBO representative said.

READ MORE: ‘Silicon Valley’ Review: Season 4 Draws the Line Between Crazy and Brilliant as Mike Judge Dares to Dream

The news comes in the middle of the show’s Season 4 run and ahead of Miller’s first HBO stand-up special, “Meticulously Ridiculous.”

Miller has always brought a jolt of energy to “Silicon Valley,” and he’s arguably the show’s biggest breakout. The latter fact could point to why he’s leaving — a bigger paycheck, his own show, or other alluring projects are far from a stretch for the in-demand actor — but we’re more worried about the show right now.

Silicon Valley Season 4 TJ Miller

Erlich not only consistently stirred the pot with his ambitious scheming, but he’s formed a strong bond with the series’ lead, Richard Hendricks, played by Thomas Middleditch. Their relationship has been key to the plot, especially over the last two seasons, and however it’s left at the end of Season 4 (which has already been shot) will be intriguing, if not vital, to the show’s future.

Even more important is how you “replace” Erlich’s energy. Now, a quick-and-easy replacement seems a bit nuts, but Richard and his roommates could need a new landlord with Erlich moving out (or however he’s written out), and a consistent conversation around “Silicon Valley” has called for more women in the male-centric series. (Given the one-sided gender dynamics prevalent in the real-life tech industry, Mike Judge and his team have been accurate in their representation._

But this move does pave the way for a stronger female presence. How uncomfortable Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani) is around women combined with how bluntly rude Gilfoyle (Martin Starr) can be when speaking to the opposite sex, a regular female presence could really stir things up. We loved the Season 2 plot that saw Carla (Alice Wetterlund) added to the engineering team, as well as how slyly Judge and the writers satirized the real-life gender imbalance. Adding another awesome female comic to the mix could provide similarly hilarious results, while pushing the characters in new directions — just like Erlich did.

Or, you know, they could finally beef up Amanda Crew’s role. That would be more than fine, too. Either way, Miller will be missed in “Silicon Valley.” The Critics Choice award-winner (in 2015) and nominee (in 2016) cannot merely be replaced. But the hole left by his absence will need to be filled.

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