“It’s a show about jeans.”
That’s the way How to Make It in America was first pitched to me, and can you blame me for not being all that enthused? Even now, as a fan of the series, I find it difficult to explain. No, they don’t sell jeans anymore. Yes, they’re still trying to make it in America. No, it’s not a drama. No, it’s not really a comedy either. Yes, Bryan Greenberg and Lake Bell remain two of the most attractive people on television, ever.
Here’s what I DO know about How to Make It in America: I love it. And if you’re one of those people who hasn’t found a reason to tune in, I humbly suggest you to give it a chance. If you’re lucky enough to have HBOGo, you can go that route. Otherwise, I suggest finding a very generous friend with HBOGo, and hanging out at his or her house a lot. Bake some How to Make It in America-themed cupcakes to sweeten the deal. (And no, I don’t mean cupcakes laced with weed. Well, not necessarily.)
While Season 1 took a while to find its footing, Season 2 has offered a far more fluid, consistent string of episodes. (And at only eight episodes a season, the show is easy to digest.) The arc of Ben and Cam’s success, so central to the series, is always interesting—but it’s the relationships between the show's characters that draw me into How to Make It in America on a weekly basis. This season has complicated things further, as Ben’s ex Rachel got involved with pot-dealer/dog-walker Domingo, and Ben got involved with the very important (and very married) Nancy Frankenburg.
The writing is sharp, but it’s also worth noting that this series has one of the most diverse and interesting (and yes, super sexy) casts on television. Everyone has stepped up the game this season, although I’ve been especially impressed by Lake Bell as Rachel and Kid Cudi as Domingo. (Also, let’s just take a moment to honor a series that showcases Lake Bell and Kid Cudi on a weekly basis.) While I do miss Martha Plimpton, who brought much of Season 1’s humor, Gina Gershon’s Nancy and Nicole LaLiberte’s Lulu are solid additions to the cast.
I know that I sound gushy, and I’ll admit How to Make It in America hasn’t fully realized its potential. But if I’m effusive, it’s because this is a show that never really gets the credit it deserves. So while I’m maybe a bit more of a cheerleader than usual, I think it’s warranted—this is a series you should be watching. It’s hip but it’s not obnoxious. It’s quirky but it’s relatable. It’s deliberately paced without being boring.
I also recognize that it’s maybe not for everyone. How to Make It in America is a tough sell, in part because it’s so different from most of what’s on TV. And while that inherent oddness makes it a joy to watch for me, it might make it a total drag for you. Hey, I’m not here to judge. But if you’re holding out because you’re worried it’s going to be “Jeans! Jeans! Jeans!” all the time, I implore you to give it another shot. There’s still time to marathon Season 2 before the season finale on Sunday.
Have you been watching the show this season? How would you describe it?
Superfan bonus: Do you think Crisp is destined to sell out to Yosi? Check out these other possible brand collaborations we dreamed up. (Click to enlarge.)