LA’s public spaces are currently plastered with advertisements for How To Make It In America–HBO’s newest show which boasts an eclectic group of characters, an ambitious title, and a heavy marketing campaign. Considering the critical and commercial acclaim so many of their shows have received, this push could be indicative of a new hit. HBO has high hopes.
How To Make It In America features a group of New York City twentysomethings striving for a big break in the world of art and fashion. Best friends Ben and Cam hustle to start up their own denim line. When they have the time, they party at trendy NYC spots, chase girls, and work boring day jobs. Both characters have to deal with personal distractions. Ben pines over his ex-girlfriend Rachel, who reappears in his life at all the wrong moments. Cam’s shady cousin Rene looms in the background. The guys take out a $3,000 loan from to buy a roll of supposedly premium denim.
Cam, played by Viktor Rasmuk, brings believable energy to the screen. I hope he will bring on laughs as the season progresses. He bears the burden of cheering up Ben, played by Bryan Greenberg. He’s mopey, but apparently talented. Ben has the artistic vision; Cam has the personality and drive. Unfortunately, neither of them have a very good sense of humor. Their story is good enough to keep up with, but they may not be funny enough to make it worth your while. Ben and Cam struggle to make ends meet. They struggle even harder to be funny.
The attempt to “make it” will guide the plot throughout the season. Think of How To Make It as a poor man’s Entourage, in multiple senses of the phrase.
Critics have almost unanimously pegged How To Make It as a timely response to the latter HBO show. HTMIIA follows a group of male friends; they are produced and directed by the same people; they air within the same hour on Sunday nights. The comparison is inevitable. HBO found its male counterpart to Sex and the City six years ago. Entourage is popular, but aging. HTMIIA tries to recreate it for today’s economy.
Entourage’s humor wasn’t always built around punch lines, the way a standard sitcom might be. A lot of the laughs came from the over the top situations that Vinny, Ari and co. got into. HTMIIA is in the same vein of humor; there aren’t many real jokes. If you aren’t interested in the show’s premise, HTMIIA is not for you. It really isn’t that funny and I was never captivated by the struggle of artistic hipsters. Like Ben, I feel apathetic.
Director Julian Farino does a fine job at holding my interest, Hipster culture, as depicted by the show, looks and sounds pretty cool. Ben, Cam, and their diverse group of friends believe that their lifestyle could only happen in America, but the show is really about how to make it in New York. Unfortunately, Farino doesn’t have much to work with. The shots, the music, and the clothes are the best things going on here. The people in the shots, dancing to the music, and wearing the clothes, are boring.
How To Make It In America follows friends in search of fame and fortune; it’s called How To Make It because these characters have a long way to go. Does the title imply that Ben and Cam will get there? While I wasn’t laughing about it, I am still curious. As their ads claim, the show is “stylish” and occasionally “entertaining.” I’ll be casually following their road to success, in the hopes that they get more funny along the way.