Tag Archives: How to Make it in America

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 . . .

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

And now for something completely different (well . . . sort of)

        As I was preparing to watch the season premiere for Big Love (which I recapped for you here), I came across an HBO trailer for its four new “original” television series.  The trailer went something like this . . .

        From the people who brought you The Sopranos, a show about a present-day mafia family living in Northern New Jersey . . .

 . . .  here comes Boardwalk Empire, a show about a 1920s mafia family rising to power in Southern Jersey.

         From the people who brought you Entourage, a show about a twenty-something actor from Queens, New York, and his buddies, who relocate to Hollywood when the actor strikes it big on the silver screen . . .

 . . . here comes How to Make it in America, a show about a twenty-something fashion designer from Brooklyn, New York, and his buddies, who try to strike it rich in NYC.

          From the people who brought you The Wire, a realistic, often gritty, portrayal of urban life in Baltimore, Maryland . . .

 . . . here comes Treme, a realistic, often gritty portrayal of urban life in New Orleans, Louisianna.

           From the people who brought you Band of Brothers, a miniseries about World War II . . .

  . . .  here comes The Pacific, another miniseries about World War II.

           Now, don’t get me wrong, these all sound like really good shows.  And knowing me, I’ll probably watch every single one.  But am I the only one starting to notice a trend here? 

             Are we one day going to get to the point where all of the media we enjoy: our television shows, books, movies, and artwork, are nothing more than previously popular old concepts, dressed up in new and shiny packaging?  Has Hollywood just temporarily run out of new ideas?  Or are producers simply so primed against the possibility of failure that they are afraid to take a chance on something that is fresh and new?

            I guess only time will tell what types of programming will be reviewed ten years from now, on TV Recappers Anonymous: The Sequel.

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