HollywoodChicago.com RSS   Facebook   HollywoodChicago.com on Twitter   Free Giveaway E-mail   

TV Review: Bland ‘How to Make It in America’ Too Familiar

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionE-mail page to friendE-mail page to friendPDF versionPDF version
No votes yet

CHICAGO – Ben (Bryan Greenberg) and Cam (Victor Rasuk) could accurately be compared to Vinny and Eric five or six years before they made it big in the first season of “Entourage”. With a similar style and from much of the same production crew (including Mark Wahlberg), “How to Make It in America” pales in comparison to its inspiration.

HollywoodChicago.com Television Rating: 2.0/5.0
Television Rating: 2.0/5.0

Ben and Cam are a couple of friends at that quarter-life crisis point when people often put their dreams on a shelf forever or take one last stab at them. Both are connected enough to go to clubs surrounded by people beautiful enough for HBO and sleep with gorgeous women but they can’t pay the rent. As is sometimes the case, it’s almost unsettling to watch Hollywood’s idea of being poor in NYC. This is not true “economic crisis” poverty. It’s the beautiful version of it.

How to Make It in America.
How to Make It in America
Photo credit: Eric Leibowitz/HBO

Floating around Ben and Cam like Drama, Turtle, and Ari are Ben’s ex-girlfriend Rachel (Lake Bell), a former classmate turned Wall Street rich guy (Eddie Kaye Thomas), and Cam’s gangster cousin (Luis Guzman). Of course, the show also allows for the occasional cameo, this time from fashion icons like John Varvatos. Rapper Kid Cudi steals a few scenes in a small ensemble role.

How to Make It in America.
How to Make It in America
Photo credit: Eric Leibowitz/HBO

The first arc of the show focuses on Ben and Cam trying to start their own denim line called “Crisp,” an ironic choice of label considering it’s a word that never applies to the show. Greenberg is a pleasant enough lead and Guzman is always welcome, but the show has no identity after its first four episodes. It’s impossible to tell what is intended to draw audience interest: Is this a show about good guys climbing the ladder to success? Ben getting back with his girl? Just a slice of life in NYC? It doesn’t work as any of the above coming across as unfocused as that friend who will go on and on about his career plans after a few beers but do nothing about them when he sobers up.

As Hollywood plays a major role in “Entourage,” New York City must play one in “How to Make It in America” but even that’s missing from the final show. Sure, Ben and Cam hop around town and allow for a lot of exterior shots of the city that never sleeps but the writing never feels like it knows this town in a way that it could become a character itself in the arc of the show. Making it in New York is different than making it in Hollywood or anywhere else for that matter and the show never gets that gritty street sensibility that it needed to approach realism.

And that’s the biggest problem with “How to Make It in America”: it never feels genuine, just generic. It’s so blatantly cut from the same pattern as “Entourage,” merely made with inferior fabric.

‘How to Make It in America,’ which airs on HBO, stars Bryan Greenberg, Victor Rasuk, Mark Wahlberg, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Lake Bell, and Luis Guzman. The show premieres on February 14th, 2010 at 9pm CST.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

Content Director

Anonymous's picture

I think before you review

I think before you review something, learn and understand the culture on which it’s based. Your review is written as if you have any idea what living in New York is like/about.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

User Login

Free Giveaway Mailing


  • Speech & Debate (stage play)

    CHICAGO – “Speech & Debate,” the latest production from the mighty Brown Paper Box Company, continues their tradition of thinking outside that “box” in presenting storefront theater that makes a statement and a difference. “Speech” goes inside America by showcasing the outsiders… those who create art because they can’t get it right in real life. This non-equity Chicago stage play premiere is finely tuned and wonderfully acted, and runs through March 4th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • We're Gonna Be Okay

    CHICAGO – The 1960s were a time of historical social transition. The movements – civil rights, feminist, gay rights – all had roots in that tumultuous decade. The Chicago premiere of Basil Kreimendahl’s “We’re Gonna Be Okay” echoes all of those movements in its characters, and collides them against the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the American Theater Company through March 4th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.


HollywoodChicago.com on Twitter


HollywoodChicago.com Top Ten Discussions