It’s not new for Silicon Valley to be the subject for Hollywood. From the actual TV series Silicon Valley, to one off episodes in series like Veep, to the eery Black Mirror, the growing power of technology and the maturation of the industry make for good comic and dramatic fodder.
The latest is perennial NBC favorite Parks and Recreation. The feel-good show — starring Amy Poehler as Pawnee, Indiana Parks employee Leslie Knope — is going after Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and Google in a multiepisode storyline stretching across its final season. The tech quartet is represented symbolically as one in a company called Gryzzl, which bids for a giant chunk of land near Pawnee that Leslie wants to turn into a national park.
The year is 2017 and Gryzzl’s fingerprint is everywhere. The characters scroll through their collapsible, transparent tablets, surf free Gryzzl Wi-Fi, and communicate through Gryzzl’s social network. Gryzzl’s casually dressed, young execs pop up throughout the episodes, determined to win their $90 million bid to turn the Pawnee park into their next tech campus.
But Leslie, in her frantic attempt to defeat them, comes across that classic consumer tech Achilles Heel: Data privacy issues. Pawnee residents start freaking out when Gryzzl delivers creepily personalized, free gifts to each of them by drone.
Pawnee, Indiana, is supposed to represent the ultimate vision of Middle America. Despite being written in Hollywood, it gives us some satirical insight in how the rest of America views tech companies and data privacy issues in particular; far more so than the actual show Silicon Valley.
Without further ado, the funniest tech jokes in Parks and Rec’s last season:
1) Gryzzl’s motto
2) When the Siri-like AI on Gryzzl’s tablet malfunctions
Robot: “Thank you Jessica. I love you too. I love your skin. Give me your skin!!!!”
Gryzzl exec: “There’s still a couple bugs with the AI software. Maybe just turn it off before you go to sleep.”
3) The treadmill desk, beanbag chair, and cereal dispenser adorned office of Gryzzl’s “VP of Cool New Shiz”
4) Gryzzl’s press conference, featuring rave lights, trance music, and booth babe-esque dancers. Kinda reminded me of TechCrunch Disrupt. A local celebrity spouted nonsense buzz words that resembled The Verge SuperBowl trailer.
Local celeb repping Gryzzl: “Fresh, innovative, place making, disposable duvets, growth hacking, super moon, Gryzzl. Now come with me as we binge watch the future.”
5) The talking Gryzzl drone delivering creepily personalized presents to the residents of Pawnee. Basically Amazon and its drone delivery plans.
Leslie: “Oh my god Ben! We’re about to die! The robots have come for us!”
6) The Pawnee residents complaining about their invasion of privacy at a Town Hall meeting. The man who collects toy pigs dressed like movie stars stole the show.
Pawnee resident: “This is Hamuel L. Jackson from the move Pork Fiction. They have no right to give me something I will treasure the rest of my life!”
7) Gryzzl’s new facial recognition software that tracks your expressions and knows your mood, reminiscent of Facebook’s newsfeed emotions testing.
Gryzzl exec: “If the camera senses that you’re in a bad mood then we could geomatch you to say the nearest cup of sweet pick me up java. If you’re in a good mood then we could geonudge you to a sweet coffee shop and you could keep the good times going.”
Ben: “So it’s really just a coffee sales app?”
Gryzzl exec: “Yeah! We’re partnering with Starbucks.”
8) And this about sums up the mainstream view of tech:
Gryzzl exec: “I hope you can see now theres nothing scary about Gryzzl. we just want to learn everything about everyone and track them everywhere they go and anticipate what they’re about to do.”