Review: How To Make It In America, Episode 1
by Winston "Stone" Ford
Aloe Blacc – I Need A Dollar (How To Make It In America Theme Song)
Ben: How Long Are You Gonna Say “Fuck The Man?”
Cam: Until We ARE The Man
The Hustle. It’s the epitome of the American Dream. We live in one of the few countries in the world where you can make something from nothing, where a man in rags can achieve riches with a little hard work and ingenuity.
After the success of Entourage, HBO is in need of another hit for the 18-34 demographic. They went ahead and called theiri friend Mark Whalberg, and the result is a show very similar to its LA cousin, yet set on the East Coast. Unfortunately, however, How To Make It needs some work to shine: the characters are one dimensional, the acting is decent at best, and the plot lines need to be fleshed out.
How to Make It In America tries to document the new hustle. The middle and upper middle class kids who are forgoing the desk job for the art job. The show, which many people are calling an “East Coast Entourage,” follows the characters of Ben (Bryan Greenberg) and Cam (Victor Rasuk) as they hustle their way through Manhattan. Ben is trying to make it with his not well thought skateboard company, while Cam is the essential (and somewhat stereotypical) New York street hustler, concocting schemes like selling fake leather jackets on the street corner to pay back his cousin.
The show itself, like Entourage, is shot in the “day in the life,” style, using handheld cameras, fast cuts, and a . Beginning with Aloe Blacc’s new track I need A Dollar. “How To Make It…” begins with the pair trying to hustle $3,000 to pay to pay back Cam’s cousin. From there, the plot gets pretty muddled. Ben’s attempt to woo his ex girlfriend at a failed macking attempt is boring and dragged down the whole pilot. Cam’s cousin (played by Luis Guzman) and Ben’s rich High School friend David (played by Eddie Kaye Thomas) really add nothing to the script. Kid Cudi, it seems, is added for decoration only.
The seeds for success are currently there, but for the show to really be a hit, it would need a breakout star, someone who’s lines will be quoted the next day at the office watercooler (or, for you non-day job hustlers, Starbucks). Until that happens, the show will be a borderline watch at best. The show thrives when both main characters are hustling. If the writers cut out all of the side drama and make it a series about the ups and downs of trying to “make it,” in the creative community of New York, they could be on to something.
Having that said, the whole series can’t be judged from just one episode, and unfortunately, it might even need a few seasons (like Entourage) to really get the concept moving.
Is it worth that $15 a month HBO subscription? Not yet. I’ll keep watching, however, at least until my free HBO trial runs out.