Sunday, March 07, 2010

How to Make It in America, "Unhappy Birthday": Party time in NYC

Tonight's "How to Make It in America" was the last I got to see in advance before I wrote my review of the series a month ago. While I still feel the show is engaging but too slight to merit any kind of episode-by-episode reviewing, I'm curious to hear from people who have stuck with it. What is and isn't working for you? (Other than the objectively awesome title sequence, that is.)

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

best opening credits of any show on tv. RASTA MONSTA forever

Anonymous said...

Just a note, HBO is offering this episode on its YouTube channel.

Alap said...

This was the first episode that wasn't "Entourage: Redux." It was still just a bunch of kinda douchey guys hanging out, but a bunch of douches with pathos and atmosphere and not totally strained humor. This episode felt almost like a Mumblecore movie with actual dialogue--just a pleasant, noncommittal half-hour that doesn't leave me feeling dirty in the end. I hope it stays in this vein.

FastestManAlive said...

What works the most for me is seeing the different people hustling.
Rene trying to get Rasta Monsta off the ground.
Ben and Cam trying to get their jeans made.

The show only ever holds my interest when the characters are involved in those plotlines. That's why this past episode was a real disappointment after last week's.

Andrew Gordon said...

I'm interested enough to keep watching every week but I'm not incredibly invested in the storyline so far. I think that's probably because it's not moving a bit slowly.

However, the fact that I sit through the opening credits makes me like the show. Reminds me of when I was watching Veronica Mars an always watched the intro credits.

WyldeMan45 said...

I like to see these guys working towards making it. For me the show is all about the pursuit of their dreams, and the hustle to get there, but not really what will happen if they ever do reach their dreams. This show is still somewhat like Entourage except these guys are willing to work for a living unlike Vinnie Chase's crew. I am a fan of Bryan Greenburg's so that might be why I am still hanging on hoping it gets better. But for me right now everything not related to getting the company up and running I could care less about.

Dylan said...

WyldeMan took the words out of my mouth. It's what Entourage would have been if we started at the beginning of Vinnie Chase's career instead of right in the middle.

It definitely has that sense of fun that makes me want to keep watching so far.

Austin Storm said...

As long as they stay on track with the making it stuff... passivity doesn't work well in a protagonist. The "I guess we need to find a pattern maker" ep ending was great. The birthday ep had some easy humor, too.

Andy L said...

I like the characters enough that I am content to hang out with them at the club or wherever. I have no real interest in the jeans plot or Rasta Monster or Lake Bell and her job etc... But the cast is likeable enough and the whole show is written with a certain authenticity that makes it enjoyable. I would probably despise the show if it was an hour, though.

Fernando said...

Show still has the entourage "everything works out in the end" vibe, but it seems like they might venture away from that more than Entourage. Cool show, apparently I like hanging with douche-y ppl cuz it very much speaks to a single, twenty-something just going from party to party.

RD said...

This recent episode was my favourite episode so far. Like someone said earlier, I don't care too much about the plot. I just find the characters very enjoyable and love watching them interact, especially Ben, Cam & Domingo.

belinda said...

I like it, but yes, nothing much happens in each episode, so it's not much of a breakout show either, or a show you'd be telling all your friends about. It's interesting, looks great, and kind of a mix of what Sex and the City might be like if the main characters start out being 5 years younger and male with a cooler aesthetic and obviously, Entourage, east coast style.

Anonymous said...

More like 20 years younger.

Max said...

I really want to like this show so much more than I already do, but Greenburg in the lead just gets in the way.

If you're into urban culture, then you'd have a hard time believing this "Average Joe" white guy is cool enough to be some upstart fashion designer. When I was in college one of my friends was a designer, and he dressed, was, and looked much much cooler than anyone else I know, and he definitely wasn't a Hollywood picked white guy. Not to say that designers aren't white--most of them are--but just the locale, and culture, they're apart of makes it unlikely.

I really think somebody like former Public School designer Dao Yi-Chow, would've been excellent in the lead. Or even Kid Cudi, who is the most natural looking, and likable character in the show.

Greenburg just feels like Hollywood's handpicked "good-looking" draw for middle America. You can't just play hip-hop, name drop brands like Supreme, talk about making a selvedge denim line, and expect the show to be believable. (And for the record nobody's buying selvedge denim with 18" leg openings).

Max said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rhys said...

I found this episode and last episode much better then the first two. I am very glad they decided to start following Rachel and Rene on their own instead of just as characters in the lives of Ben and Cam.

I also liked how the show didn't follow a cliche path of creating contrived conflict amongst the characters. It could've easily gone cliche with Ben showing up at the dinner, everything going awkward, him flaking on Kappo, the bar tender thing totally getting screwed up, etc. Instead things seemed way more realistic in that everyone was more or less making the "right" decision about how to handle the evening. It is refreshing when compared to so many shows that setup really contrived conflicts and embarrassing situations by having the characters handle the situation in the most illogical way possible.

I am definitely on board now. So far it seems like a more down-to-earth, realistic version of Entourage set in NYC.

Andy L said...

I don't really even buy the "Early Entourage in NYC" label anymore. That was how everyone was pitching it when it debuted, but it is far less narcissitic than that. We have secondary characters in their own subplots that have absolutely NOTHING to do with our two main characters. When Rene goes to sell Rasta Monster to the bodegas, he isn't talking about the two punks that owe him a vig on a roll of denim. When Lake Bell is questioning her career path and being jealous of her friend in the peace corps, it is not because she wants to get back with her ex.

The show is creating a world beyond Ben and Cam, and THAT is what I am enjoying. I am rooting for their success, but no matter how well they do or how hard they fall, that world will still exist, as opposed to Entourage where MegaStar Vinny Chase can make one shit movie and it is like the universe imploded.

HTMIIA has already surpassed Entourage in terms of thematic depth, characterization and, amazingly in only 4 episodes vs a 5 year series, plotting.

Max said...

You can't tell me somebody like Dao Yi-Chow doesn't embody what this show is about. But I don't think mainstream Hollywood would ever make this casting choice. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPbS3jfD8H8

belinda said...

[i] More like 20 years younger. [/i]

Lol. I thought about that, but Ben is in his mid 20s or so, and with the exception of Samantha being the older one (much like Rachel's boss, I guess), in SatC the others were around Carrie's age, which was 31 at the start of the series. So 5 years is about right, shockingly.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Interesting. Some of you only care about the show when it focuses on the denim line, Rasta Monsta and the other businesses, while some of you only care about watching the characters hang out.

We'll see if the show can find a balance that will please both groups.

Cagey (Kelli Oliver George) said...

My husband is an entrepreneurial immigrant, so these story lines hold true for us, even if they are long-shots. We appreciate the realistic parts. For example, all the questions about "business plans" make us snicker, considering the hours we have poured into our own business plan. The guys are CLUELESS, yet we still hold out hope they will learn.

I agree this show does not hold merit for an episode-by-episode recap, but for whatever reason, we really want to see these guys make it. And when you find yourself rooting for the main characters, despite their shallow depictions, it becomes a show worth watching. For whatever indefensible reason. Heh.

Anonymous said...

lake bell is terrible. totally kills the show.

Anonymous said...

"Show still has the entourage 'everything works out in the end' vibe"

I always felt Entourage had each episode ending on a down note, like things weren't going to work out, only for the season finale's to improbably having EVERYTHING work out for EVERYONE (I only watch the show passingly so might be wrong or forgetting a season). I could see HTMIIA being the opposite...each ep ends with things seemingly going well and moving forward only for a season finale to see Cam and Ben end up on their asses, jeans line not working out and driving the Rasta Monsta van for Knish...I mean Rene

blinky said...

What was the point of this episode? Parallel parties and watching the main guy smoke cigarettes?
I don't find the characters appealing enough to want to just watch them walk around and drink alcohol.
The show does not live up to the open.

Anonymous said...

It feels and looks stylish, but up to this point has been vapid and empty. I gave it a chance, but I don't relate to any of the characters and don't like any of the characters.

I need a lot of things in my life. An east coast Entourage featuring hipster hustlers looking to get into the fashion business isn't one of those things.

Anonymous said...

Really enjoy the show, particularly this last episode. As a few others mentioned, I prefer just watching the characters themselves. (It doesn't hurt that Greenberg, Rasuk, and Kid Cudi make a nice eye candy assortment mix.) Also love Eddie Kaye Thomas as "Kappo."

Anonymous said...

It's not nearly as sexist as Entourage, which even in the earlier good days was incredibly misogynistic. I like that the girls aren't disposable, and that the Lake Bell character gets an actual plot and life beyond Ben. It's more of a modern-day Friends, really, about one very specific time in life...

Kianna said...

I agree that having Kid Cudi in the lead, or the designer Max mentioned, would have been a really inspired choice. But the show would never have been made without a white lead. Frankly, I'm surprised both leads weren't white.

I'm definitely in the camp of liking the business ventures more than the romantic "intrigue", so this week's episode was my least favorite. I know everyone compares this show to "Entourage", but it actually reminds me of "Lucky Louie" in that the characters are working-class. That's refreshing these days, when so many network shows focus on white-collar professionals.

Speaking of, their Wall Street friend really grew on me over this episode. He's clueless, and tries way too hard, but he is funny.