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How To Make It In America: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray Review)

“From the creators of Entourage…” Okay, I’m in!  Yes, I’m shallow, but you love it.  I got the word that I would be reviewing How To Make It In America, and got real excited.  Granted the title is a bit peculiar due to having the Entourage cloud hanging over it.  People may start talking and assuming that How To Make It In America will be Entourage’s successor, or something like that.  I am happy to report that that is absolutely 100% NOT TRUE.  How To Make It In America is one of the newest shows on HBO, and if past programming is any indication, this new show will be of the highest quality with regards to story, budget, and all of those things.  Right about now you’re probably wondering if How To Make In America is any good, right?  Then take my hand.  

 

The Show 

Yes, from the creators of Entourage comes the next big thing in cutting edge programming from HBO!  You know what?  They’re kind of right.  How To Make It In America is the story of best friends Ben (Bryan Greenberg) and Cameron aka Cam ( Victor Rasuk) who are trying to make it in the world by any means necessary.  Don’t make me quote 50 Cent.  Ben & Cam are “hustlers,” but that doesn’t mean that they go around ripping people off.  They both have multiple jobs, but do continuously struggle to get by.  Oh, and it’s not just Ben & Cam.  Their circle of friends are in the same predicaments but with slightly different takes on their own “hustling” ways.

Cam & Bryan go from selling leather jackets to snagging some unrolled uncut denim fabric, because Bryan has an idea for some cutting edge designer jeans that he wants to create and manufacture – or just sell the prototype for lots of money to a major label.  Cam is with him and is also his partner in the venture.  With their collective heads smashed together they will seek out the seed money that is required to make their prototype for world-wide distribution and domination.  Oh, and that’s just one angle.  There are many more intertwining entrepreneurial ideas that float around in How To Make It In America.

Complicating things for Ben is that he hasn’t completely gotten over his ex-girlfriend Rachel (Lake Bell), and she also can’t decide whether she’s gotten over him, even though she already has a new boyfriend.  This is Ben’s deal, are you ready for Cam’s?  His ex-con cousin Rene (Luis Guzman) is fresh out of the joint and back dealing in the illegal activities trade.  Cam has to work off some of his past debts to his loving cousin before things go back to how they  once were.  Guzman as Rene is a showstopper. 

Now with the main points of the show out of the way, let’s move on to the entertainment portion of the show!  All work and no play make Jack a dull boy as the boys work hard and party harder.  I’m in awe that How To Make It In America embraces the Bohemian lifestyle.  You’ve got many characters that have not gotten their shot at fame or fortune, but are not shunned from their social group for not “making it.”  Everyone goes out and parties at each others places regardless of class – the brotherhood aspect of the show is very cool and authentic – I love that. 


How To Make It In America is a high energy series that does not stop for anyone or anything.  I think that’s why I instantly gravitated towards it.  You can say that I am a “hustler” in my own right, so the show naturally spoke to me.  It reached out and took hold and it doesn’t look like it’s going to let ago until it’s off the air.  Not anytime soon, I hope.

Another thing that enhances the How To Make It In America experience is the many guest stars from the fashion-film world that make cameos and appearance.  The gorgeous Gingy Wu (Shannyn Sossamon) plays an independently wealthy artist who also runs a gallery.  Lake Bell is great as the conflicted Rachel, and Kid Cudi is Domingo, who has Ben & Cam’s back, but also is apt at listening to the boys in their time of need.  Eddie Kay Thomas makes an appearance as a long lost friend of Ben’s who has made it in life, but still can’t get into certain clubs, because he doesn’t have the game or know-how.  Fashion designer John Varvatos makes a cameo and so does actor Griffin Dunne as one of Ben’s former school instructors.

How To Make It In America: The Complete First Season runs 8 half hour episodes, so it should not take a while for you to finish them.  I will also take this time to confess myself –  I was hooked on the first episode that I went ahead and devoured the rest of them in one sitting.  Yeah, I’m a fan.

Video 

How To Make It In America is presented in 1080p, 16×9 1.78:1, widescreen.  How To Make It In America is a pretty good looking show, no not just the people, but this Blu-ray.  Flesh tones look nice and natural, and stay that way even when some of the characters get all dolled up to go out.  I did not detect instances of banding or overuses of DNR, so that’s a big plus. Edge enhancement creeps in here and there, but most won’t even notice.  Contrast doesn’t run hot, but being that it’s NYC, the overcast skies do tend to stay warm.  Black levels are deep and inky with no visible signs of crushing.  How To Make It In America gets high marks in the V-I-D-E-O department.

Audio 

How To Make It In America is presented in DTS-HD MA 5.1.  Dialogue is clean, clear, and crisp.  Music is featured prominently throughout the show and is at decent volume levels, meaning that you will always be able to hear what people are saying.  There is no drowning of the words to be found here.  Onscreen effects, the few that are here, are handled by the left, right, and surround channels in an effortless fashion.  The LFE gets a bit of a workout during the party and club scenes, but is not overpowering in the least.  It’s nice.

Special Features 

How To Make It In America gets the special features started off nice and proper with multiple featurettes that involve the cast, crew, and their quest to make it.  There are some deleted scenes and 8 audio commentaries with cast and crew.  That is unfortunately where the good ends and the bad begins.  We’re next treated to two featurettes that involve skateboarders and a mythic figure known as Wilfredo Gomez.  These two featurettes were completely random, because skateboarding in the show is not figured prominently into the show.  Yeah, you may catch a scene or two that feature skateboarders, but for them to get the bulk of the supplements is kind of perplexing.  Here is a rundown of the supplement package:

  • The Get By: Making it on the Streets of NYC – A peek into the lives of skateboarders and how they survive and thrive in New York City
  • The Legend of Wilfredo Gomez – The story of the elusive Gomez, featuring interviews with those who have both known the man and heard of his legendary exploits
  • Hustle Stories – Interviews with cast, crew, and guest stars about their own roads to success
  • 8 Audio Commentaries with cast members Bryan Greenberg, Victor Rasuk, Lake Bell, Luis Guzman, creator/executive producer Ian Edelman, and executive produces Rob Weiss and Julian Farino

 

Final Thoughts 

How To Make It In America is the breath of fresh air that I needed.  It’s pretty inspiring, has lots of attitude, and the women are hot.  What’s not to love?  The Blu-ray features great video and audio, but the special features do hit a snag, but don’t let that stop you.  HBO has a hit on their hands, and I look forward to catching season 2 on Blu-ray in the near future.

 

Order How To Make It In America: The Complete First Season on Blu-ray!

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

3 Responses to “How To Make It In America: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    I’m excited to check this out. I only just recently heard about it.

  2. Gerard Iribe

    It’s a damn fine show, Aaron.

  3. Sean Ferguson

    Nice job Gerard!