My Initial Thoughts on HBO’s New Series “How to Make it in America”

“What are you, twelve?  How many times are you going to say f*&k The Man?”

“Until we ARE The Man!”

The above-referenced lines are uttered by the two main protagonists in the Pilot episode of HBO’s new series How to Make it in America.  Just a few weeks ago, I poked a bit of fun at the promos for the show, claiming that its premise looked a bit familiar.  And, yes, just like that other HBO show, How to Make it in America is about a group of enterprising, but hard-partying, New York native twenty-somethings, hoping to make a name for themselves in a less traditional manner — one that doesn’t involve an MBA and a corner office.  Oh, and did I mention that both shows are produced by this guy?

Yet, saying that How to Make it in America is literally a poor man’s Entourage, would be oversimplifying things a bit.  For starters, unlike Vinny Chase and Co., the show’s main characters, Ben Epstein (Bryan Greenberg . . . we’ll get to him in a bit) and Cam Calderone (Victor Rasuk) were not plucked out of obscurity and instantly granted unfettered access to the A-list lifestyle.  Rather, they are two average joes struggling to move up the social and economic ladder the long and hard way, hand over fist, while attempting to start a 70’s inspired denim line called Crisp.

As a twenty-something myself, working full time, while trying to establish myself as a novelist and Superblogger (or, at least, Adequateblogger), I can tell you firsthand that trying to “make it” in a non-traditional career path, without the necessary connections, is not always uplifting or glamorous.  Sometimes, for example, it requires doing things like staying up until 3 a.m. to type up a blog entry, when you have to get up for work at 6:30 a.m the next day.  I’m pretty sure Vinny Chase never did that.   (Adrien Grenier’s character, though pretty to look at, never struck me as particularly literary . . . or, even literate, for that matter).  

With the economy in its current state, it’s high time for a show that illustrates how the rest of us live.  Will How to Make it in America be that show?  I sure hope so . . .

Having watched the first two episodes of this new series, I am impressed by the authentic look of the show, which features as it’s main locale the often under used Lower East Side of NYC, in place of its more pristine and polished neighbors.  The show’s dialogue is sharp, and crackles with the same biting wit of Entourage, but with a bit less grand-standing and “aren’t I clever”-ness.

Along with Greenberg and Rasuk, How to Make it in America features an ecclectic and impressive cast of characters, including comic great Luis Guzman, up-and-coming rap star Kid Cudi, Lake Bell, of Boston Legal fame, 90’s icon Martha Plimpton, and Eddie Kaye Thomas (who you may remember as the dude who got it on with Stifler’s mom in the American Pie movies).

And, of course, we CAN’T forget to talk about HIM . . .

I’ve been a fan of Bryan Greenberg’s since his time as the loveable Jake on CW’s teen drama One Tree Hill.  Not only is he immensely talented, he is also pretty easy on the eyes.  Don’t you think? 

Greenberg has clearly been blessed with effortless good looks.  And yet, he carries them off in a relatable / non-intimidating “this guy might actually hang out with me” sort of way that makes him all the more appealing.  As if that wasn’t enough, he has a sexy gravely voice that makes me feel all tingly inside . . .

Admittedly, the first two episodes got off to a bit of a slow start, focusing mainly on scene -setting and character development.  However, given its unique premise, stellar setting, and sharp cast, I am very much looking forward to seeing this show really hit its stride in the episodes to come.

How to Make it in America airs Sunday nights at 10 p.m. (right after Big Love).

P.S.  Has the recession put a major cramp on your music-purchasing budget?  As a promotion for the show, HBO is offering viewers the ability to download a mixtape inspired by the series FOR FREE!!!!!  19 songs for less money than I find on the street each morning on my way to the subway . . .

When I first saw the promotion, I was skeptical, figuring that this would probably be nothing more than a lame extended commercial for the show in MP3 format.  However, the album was produced by Kid Cudi himself, and features an ecclectic array of music ranging from R&B and rap to funk to techo and even disco.  The songs feature transitions between one another, making the mixtape sound even better when played from beginning to end.  This album also offers some fun lines from the show and brief interviews with the cast.

And, hey, if it’s not your thing, at least you don’t have to pay for it, right?

You can preview and download the entire mixtape for the show here . . .

7 Comments

Filed under How to Make it in America, music, New HBO Shows, Novel

7 responses to “My Initial Thoughts on HBO’s New Series “How to Make it in America”

  1. Great analysis and I agree. I don’t think it’s garbage, but not as good as I thought it would be…I have faith that it’ll get better.

    • Thanks for stopping by and commenting! I’ll be very interested to hear your thoughts on the Mixtape.

      My favorite tracks were: 2- Searchin, 4 – Husslas State of Mind, 5 – I Need A Dollar (the show’s theme song . . . I’m a bit surprised they didn’t put this earlier in the album), and 9 -Playa.

      Happy watching and listening, and enjoy your weekend. There’s a Nor’Easter here. And yet, I still had to drag my butt to work. Go figure. I guess this means that I’m not “The Man” yet . . .

  2. Amazon Annie

    You’ve sold me. I’ll try it. Although I’m way passed the 20 something crowd, I’m open to seeing 20 something living in the real world…not hollywood’s idea of what everyone would like to be the real world. And to show that I’m not over the hill musically I will download the free music….what the heck…it’s free.

    • Awww! Thanks Amazon Annie! I hope you enjoy the show! (If you don’t, I’ll probably feel guilty for recommending it to you. Such are the pitfalls of being a blogger :)).

      For the record, YOU could never be over the hill, musically or otherwise . . .

  3. Amazon Annie

    Well you certainly hooked me with your kind comment. I’ll have to read your blog all the time. Thanks for the personal response. It feels good to know that my opinions are read by someone. It’s refreshing and not like some other blogs I’ve commented on. Keep up the good work!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s