Sunday, April 04, 2010

How to Make It in America, "Never Say Die": Monsta burn

A quick review of the "How to Make It in America" season finale coming up just as soon as I drive to Florida to see Radiohead...

My fear about "How to Make It," given all the "Entourage" producers involved, was that the show would fall into the "Entourage" trap of letting everything work out perfectly for everyone all the time, with no consequences: a bohemian New York fantasy camp to match the tension-free, comedy-free, interest-free version Vince and his boys are living out in LA. But while things ultimately turned out okay for Ben and Cam, it wasn't without a lot of hard work on their parts, nor without some personal cost, as we saw on Cam's face as he played arsonist to get the t-shirts back.

And we also saw with Rachel's story - where she ditched the rich boyfriend, the promising career and even a reunion with Ben in favor of traveling for as long as her money lasts and figuring her life out - that the show doesn't prize material success above all else.

As Kaplan tells the guys, in a line I'm assuming/hoping the show takes to heart, "The secret is not to get rich quick. The secret is to get rich slow... and you appreciate it."

Ultimately, "How to Make It" isn't a show I love, but it's likable and charming enough - and has elements I feel stronger about (the opening credits, the music in general and the sense of NYC atmosphere) - that I would not at all be displeased should HBO bring it back for another season. It's not a show worth subscribing for, but it's a pleasant bonus to the likes of "The Pacific" and (next week) "Treme."

What did everybody else think?

22 comments:

Zach said...

Enjoyed this episode, and the whole season, quite a bit. It was a bit like Entourage East at points, but you can tell these guys are working hard whereas Vinny Chase and the boys seem to get everything so easy.

Really hope they bring it back for another season. I'd be interested to see if they actually pair it with Entourage, or try to keep it away with all the given comparisons.

Has a decision been made yet if there will be a Season 2?

Dallas Sports Guy said...

I've never said "I don't mind it" about a show so positively before. I like the characters, the setting. Just wish there was more action in the show. Some episodes seem like filler.

Matthew said...

Any sense on whether this one will get re-upped?

Anonymous said...

I've described this show to a few people as "not great, but very watchable." It was never laugh out loud funny, but something about it was just incredibly likeable and it always put a smile on my face. I guess I just liked spending time with these characters and in this world. I would definitely watch if it came back for another season.

TommyB said...

I am definitely going to miss this show because it is perfect for coming down off of the Pacific. I live in Jersey and don't go to NYC as often as I would like so this show fills that void nicely. The show does a nice job of showing the real NYC (coffee shops, regular bars etc) unlike other shows that glamorize NY. I hope it comes back for season 2

Anon @ 11:16 said...

I should add that one of the things I really liked was the way in which the show handled the Darren storyline. In the end Rachel decided Darren wasn't for her, but he was really a pretty decent guy and no one would have blamed her for staying with him. I feel like that's the polar opposite of most shows where they would have had Rachel's new boyfriend be a complete and total a-hole and made it obvious that Ben was the better choice. I like that they went the less obvious and more realistic route with things.

blizzard said...

while I like this show (thought don't love it) one of the problems I have is that there is ZERO chemistry between Bryan Greenberg and Lake Bell...I was actually rooting for the new boyfriend just to keep her away from Ben (while really hoping Ben would end up on the road trip to Baltimore) I'm not sure how this would change with a second season, but with that said, I'd def continue to watch it if it's back.

ScottyG said...

The "ex" storyline annoyed the hell out of me, luckily the show was great pretty much everywhere else

less Rachel (none please) and more Kid Cudi and the show will be Crisp

Jonathan said...

seemed like the show wasted shannyn sossamon. was looking forward to seeing her in, and then she had like 4 scenes total.

dickey simpkins said...

Pretty much agree with everyone else's sentiments. The opening credits are some of the best I've seen, and a show that employs "that guy" from American Pie and Kid Cudi warrants loyal viewing. I'm sad I won't have anything light to watch after Breaking Bad.

As for the Entourage comparisons, in an odd way you feel like the characters actually "earned" their lucky breaks, whereas Vince Chase gets treated like Bogart for no real reason. It's almost as if you're watching a show that follows E and Turtle, only if they were reasonably attractive and not so misogynistic.

Cagey (Kelli Oliver George) said...

Yes, this is not a strong series. However, I still found myself rooting for the main protagonists, even through all of their stupid moves and decisions. Cam and Ben are two fools that I would still like to see win.

I really did enjoy seeing the gritty side of NYC, sort of the anti-thesis to Sex and the City. I would HATE to see this paired with Entourage, though.

LA said...

Cosign the above, and just wanted to add that I think Luis Guzman is fantastic as Rene. His scenes are my favorite.

I'll miss the show in what I hope is a hiatus.

Bri said...

I live in long island and have been going through a lot of the same situations as Ben. The fashion world isn't an easy place to take off and its very fun to watch how hard these guys have gotta work. Sometimes knowing the right people can help you find your way, "It's not all about what you know, but who you know... and who you blow!" The show is very believable and I really hope it comes back for a season 2 with some slight modifications giving it a chance to take off the same way entourage has.

Pat said...

I really enjoy this show. I hope they bring it back for another season.

The Bald Truth said...

I loathe this show almost as much as Entourage.

Anonymous said...

lake bell is single handedly killing this show.

Chip said...

This show is decent but < Entourage. I rewatched the Malibooty (for non superfans thats the one with Lisa Rinna and Dennis Hopper) episode of Entourage a couple days ago and not only was I crying but it hit me with an urge to rewatch the entire season. Seriously let's stop hating, guys

TheTed said...

This show is far from perfect, but I feel it accurately captures what's going on in NYC, LA, SF, etc. The show revolves around middle and upper-middle class 20-somethings trying to make it in the world.

I thought this episode was particularly powerful in the sense that Cam, who is lower class, has to "sell out" to get his opportunity. He has to burn that truck down. On the other hand, Rachel, from Brown, chooses not to sell out and then decides to travel the world off her savings. Morally, I think they're both right. However, one had an actual choice, whereas the other did not.

TinMan0715 said...

I liked the show. I think the actor who plays Ben is very good, and his stock is rising. The two sleepers are Luis Guzman and Martha Plimpton. They both dazzle when they are on the screen. This series is following the same formula as Entourage on 'rise & success', but that is okay since Entourage jumped the shark seasons ago. I am ejoying HBO's recent crop of lighthearted shows: Bored to Death, Hung, the defunct Flight of the Concords, and now this. Things will get heavy with Treme, True Blood and Boardwalk Empire soon enough.

Karl Ruben said...

The whole arson sequence, from Rene waking Cam to all that marvelous ambivalence and fear play out on Victor Rasuk's face in the firelight, was fantastic. The writing, the direction, photography, the editing, the music, everything came together beautifully.
After this episode, HtMiiA graduated from "enjoy it" to "love it" in my eyes.

As per previous posters, real stakes for the characters minus icky misogyny distances it plenty from the hanging-on-by-the-strength-of-its-guest-stars-mess Entourage has become.

Wholeheartedly agree with Anon @ 11:16; Rachel's subplot was handled surprisingly well. I loved that she got to have her own story, not merely an offshoot of the male lead's. I just hope the resolution doesn't mean we'll lose Martha Plimpton for the - fingers crossed - second season, since she is stone cold awesome (see also The Good Wife).

J.Rameau said...

I am a fan of the show, but sadly I didn't even notice that this was a Season Finale. Most the issues they seem to wrap up were issues that just arose in the last episode. With some more thinking I can see how this was the finale, but it still feels weak for an ending. Its funny how the producer from "Entourage" are involved but this show is a completely different beast. "Entourage" is so fast pace, in the blink of an eye its finish, versus "How to make it..." that is so dragged out and lethargic, but some reason I still anticipate watching it weekly.

Anonymous said...

I too was worried it would be Entourage East Coast, but found myself looking forward to each episode. I echo the previous comments of everything working out on in the end on Entourage became tedious after a while. Here, I feel invested enough in the characters that I root for their small scale successes. Luis Guzman could have been cartoon cutout but I really like the balance of ex-con tendencies and trying to make a legitimate go of things as a businessman.

As a legacy Entourage viewer who watches now more out of habit, I though this clip from College Humor last year perfectly parodies the bigger Entourage problem:

http://www.collegehumor.com/video:1914477