The Darkest Backstories of Jared from 'Silicon Valley,' Ranked
Out of the numerous bizarre and questionable nerds inhabiting Silicon Valley’s satirical tech industry, Jared Dunn (Zach Woods) manages to low-key outcreep them all. Underneath his sweet, soft-spoken exterior — that could probably pass for any anti-anxiety commercial — lies a past filled with the worst of the worst that can possibly happen to a single person.
Jared’s many misfortunes get played up because he has a habit of dropping his morbid personal tales randomly into conversations, much to everyone else’s frightened confusion. So let’s wade through Jared’s darkest backstories to see if we can understand the enigma who can go from making unexpected Julia Roberts movie references to telling his co-workers what it’s like living in a cardboard box...
He Has Dark, Dark Dreams, Presumably of His Past
During a pseudo sleepover in Season Five, Richard Hendricks (Thomas Middleditch) tells Jared, “Sweet dreams,” to which Jared chuckles and replies, “If only.” This brief exchange alludes to Jared’s forever haunted existence, in many ways foreshadowing his inner ticking time bomb.
Of course, we get a slight glimpse of the terror lurking in Jared’s dreams in the scene where he talks in his sleep — in German, and quite violently — and scares the bejeezus out of Hendricks in the process.
Here’s what we know about Jared’s upbringing (brace yourself, it’s a lot):
1) He was “the product of forced adoption,” or so Jared tells Richard during Season Four’s “Hooli-Con” episode. On the Pied Piper blog, he wrote: “Sometimes California Child Protective Services makes an unannounced visit at precisely the right time!” He also talks about being raised by “largely well-meaning foster parents,” and he states that “parts of (his childhood) he cannot legally discuss because of non-disclosure clauses in settlements.” Yeah, that’s usually the type of line you read in a Ronan Farrow story.
2) Jared’s parental woes also ventured into racism, as he told the gang in Season Five: “We never had pizza because my stepmom said Italians aren’t real white people.”
3) On the blog, Jared shares that he used to live in attics and semi-enclosed porches, “which I paid for with endless, backbreaking chores and things no child should see.”
4) In Season Five, Jared says he knows what it’s like to “only be able to rescue half of your family, and it’s awful,” leaving Richard to wonder what in the world that’s supposed to mean and how he ever came to know this guy.
5) In the final season, Jared tracks down and finally meets his biological parents, who are, to no one’s surprise, the absolute worst. The rich couple basically tells him that he was given up for adoption because a third child was just too much of an inconvenience when it came to traveling.
His Sad Childhood Friends
Jumping between foster parents was obviously tough, but with an extremely creative mind, Jared forged his own companions. In Season Three, he talks about a beloved stuffed animal named Winnie, which was technically not a stuffed animal: “I took a Ziploc bag, and I stuffed it with old newspaper, and then I drew a smile on it.”
He also had some historical imaginary friends, once saying, “When I was little, I used to pretend that I shared a room with Harriet Tubman, and we were always planning our big escape.”
His Aunt and Uncle
Whether this is supposed to be Jared’s foster parents, who he simply ended up calling “aunt” and “uncle,” or a different level of sadness entirely, the guy who is trying his absolute best ends up referencing this duo more than once. In the second episode of Season One, he apologizes for his physical appearance, explaining, “Hey! Sorry if I scared you; I know I have somewhat ghost-like features. My uncle used to say, ‘You look like someone starved a virgin to death.’”
Not to mention, his aunt called him “glasshole,” and there’s an extremely disturbing game he loops Hendricks in on:
To make matters worse (like anything even could at this point), Jared tells Richard in Season One that during an assault, a person should yell out their name because “it forces the assailant to acknowledge you as a human.” Which could be a reference to either his upbringing, school days or life on the streets. Regardless of the origin, it’s another example of Jared being a Russian nesting doll of trauma — that also looks like a beady-eyed lamp pole.
Whatever happened with the whole situation with his aunt and uncle, we do at least know that his torture eventually ended, hopefully with a sprinkle of justice. In Season Five, as Jared and the gang walk in on their house/office all emptied out, he mutters, “Why does every home I’ve ever loved get stripped?”
He Created a Persona to Give Himself Crap
The guy can disassociate so easily that when he creates an “Ed Chambers” character to cope with making deals over the phone, he not only believes his fictional managing supervisor is real but uses this persona to belittle himself in conversation. While this is not technically part of his backstory, it’s clearly a product of it.
His Life on the Street
In Season Four, Richard asks Jared how he knows the art of applying nail polish so well, to which Jared responds, “When I was on the street, it was a means of survival.” It’s a statement that’ll stick in your brain for days, as you try to think about the exact situation requiring that specific solution.
In Season Three, Jared also reveals to Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani) and the others that he knows what it’s like to be forced to sleep inside of a cardboard box:
The descent into Jared’s “street life” phase continues, as he hints at a life of sex work in Season Five when he gets very specific about showing a “John your genitals” to prove that “you’re not an undercover cop.“ In “The Blood Boy“ episode, he tells the story of how he had to sleep with the head of an assisted-living facility to get his friend a spot on the list. Furthermore, he goes into a whole speech with Hendricks, saying, “Sometimes you have to numb yourself. If you wanna work the corner, you can’t fall in love every time you turn a trick. That’s why you do the oxy.“
His Image Issues
Besides his “uncle“ telling him that he looks like a starved virgin ghost, Jared has clearly had several issues with his physical appearance. In Season One, he tells Hendricks and Bachman (T.J. Miller) that doctors once tried to diagnose him with wasting disease because he’s so skinny. Yeah, the man who looks like a scarecrow wearing a sheet can’t even catch a break from medical professionals.
Later, when Jared watches himself doing an online interview, he asks Gilfoyle (Martin Starr), “Is my nose really that big? I mean, I look like an anti-Semitic propaganda cartoon.“ He then goes and gets himself lip injections to try and distract from his nose, which just makes matters worse.
But hey, at least the guy f—ks.