How to Make It in America

Season 1 Episode 1


Aired Sunday 10:30 PM Feb 14, 2010 on HBO

Episode Fan Reviews (3)

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out of 10
63 votes
  • New Kids on the Block

    In the mean streets of NYC twenty-something Ben Epstein and his pal Cam Calderon try to make money any way they can. Ben currently works at a clothing store and runs into an old high school friend and tells Cam that it's time to grow up and get a job. But when Cam's cousin who he owes some money to comes back to town with business of his own Cam looks to flip some leather jackets to pay him back. Ben, having recently broken up with his girlfriend Rachel attends a photography show that his friend Ginger put together and tries to set him up with her friend Jane which doesn't work out as planned. Ben is a failed artist and while this show has parallels to the other coast's hit Entourage also from HBO Ben is much more layered and down to earth than the airy headed "all will turn out ok" Vincent Chase. So to pay back his cousin he borrows the money from his friend and Ben and Cam buy up a long source of denim and decide to start their own jean brand. Promising at the least with enough style and women to keep all the regular male viewers happy, but if you aren't a fan of surface level escapism this show isn't your cup of tea.
  • Bryan Greenberg's new show has potential, but it can use a little bit more humor.

    How To Make It In America isn't a heartfelt story of hardworking people who continue a age-old trend to try and find their way in fast-paced New York. It's about a normal guy who just tries to find his way in his twenties. Not that I need anything more than that. Because even though the premise is anything but refreshing (there are a couple of shows on air right now with the exact same one), but the take is intriguing. It has the real touch of HBO and the interesting concept of something that'd be interesting to follow. We see how Ben tries to deal with his ex-girlfriend moving on and how he and his friend try to pay off a loan for his friend's shady uncle. I'm a wee bit confused on that last part as I didn't fully focus on what was going down with the uncle out of prison and the loan, but it was clear Ben and his friend try to get rich and found an interesting way to do so. That is always interesting and amusing, the problem is only that there wasn't much to be amused by. Bryan Greenberg has some stripes due to Jake Jagielski, but isn't exactly the funniest guy around, and even though his friend is the perfect portrayer of that guy we all know that gets us to live life, there's no direct reason to stay for the rest of the season instead of going out and do the exact same thing in real life.
    Luckily, there were some other factors going for the show. It triggered my nostalgia big time by, beside Greenberg, offering Samaire Armstrong (The O.C. 4ever) AND Eddie Kaye Thomas (Paul Finch from American Pie). Those were enough strings to keep me interested as I love to see familiar faces. Also Ben, dealing with his ex, making a move on a girl, etc. is relatable, which is always a plus.
    I'm kind of in the middle on the pilot because it could really go either way. The show needs that funny sense that makes Entourage bearable and Weeds crazy, but losing that realistic touch would harm what the show could do. I'm definitely going to check out more and hopefully, the show will be a fine guide to what movies and TV has showed so many times before; how to make it in America.
  • A promising start to what I hope can become a really good series.

    One of the difficult parts of making a pilot is creating a half hour that introduces us to the characters, but still provides an interesting plotline as well. Think six, seven years down the line. If this show gets syndicated, would this episode encourage people to watch more or would viewers just skip over it when rewatching the series? It sounds crazy to think so far ahead, but I think people need to take that into account when creating a new show.

    This show does accomplish that to a degree. How to Make it in America comes along at the perfect time as a lot of people are struggling and seeing these characters can be very relatable to us.

    Although there is also the generic, cliched "one that got away" as well. Lake Bell plays the role, but I do not think she is the right fit for the part. She's a fine comedic actress, but her face does not exactly scream girl-next-door beauty, something this role really warrants.

    The main duo played by Bryan Greenberg (One Tree Hill, October Road) and Victor Rasuk (Lords of Dogtown) provide a nice mix of comedy as well as people you can really root for as this series progresses. Greenberg is a talented actor, but he does seem to phone in his performance a little bit. He does not seem to have heart entirely in the role, but hopefully that will change by the second episode.

    Eddie Kaye Thomas is also a part of the cast. A great comedy veteran who, yes, plays the same role he's been playing since American Pie, but he does it well.

    The major problem is that the show needs to decide whether it is going to be a drama or a comedy as it seems like both at times, and not in a good combination like Psych or Desperate Housewives. It is sort of stuck in that purgatory, like Weeds, and needs to find its identity fast. Entourage, a show with the same producers, struggled with this in its early years, so hopefully How to Make it in America can overcome it as well.

    To summarize, I laughed at some things, others failed miserably. The acting is good, as is the theme song and it definitely has potential.
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