"How To Make It In America": The Hustle Continues
With that said…season one left off with Cam (Victor Rasuk) and Ben (Bryan Greenberg) finally launching their line of T-shirts to a Japanese investor. Despite the trials and tribulations of scouring Brooklyn in search of vintage tees to having the Rasta Monsta truck stolen while basking in their short-lived glow of success, the boys left us on a happy note: they found the shirts and locked down the business deal they coveted for the entire season.
HBO began its sophomore season of "How to Make It” with a bang, literally. The episode entitled, “I’m Good," opened with Cam and Ben is frolicking in Japan, probably the furthest either has ever been. They conspire to host a launch of the CRISP collection using weird Japanese sex-fetish ploys to create a buzz. Lulu (Nicole LaLiberte), is a red-haired boutique owner who promised CRISP a window display, only later disappoint them she’ll be using a grunge, punk-inspired collection by a group of druggies, “The Neanderthals” instead. Even Cam couldn’t use his NYC smooth talking charm to convince his love-interest of the season (or perhaps moment) to sell his hoodies.
Rene (Luis Guzman) is back with his crew, but with a twist: he’s in love. He is a gangster simply trying to sell Rasta Monsta, but using his love-interests “ass-sets” to sell the energy drink. Rene spends the entire episode promising to use her facial beauty next time rather than her “booty," a bit too dry of a story line for his character, but it allowed the audience to see his softer side. Gangsters need love too.
Mid-way through the episode, in a highly uncharacteristic fashion, Ben not only looses his cool while trying to promote the CRISP launch at radio show, he takes a hit of a blunt, offered by their rival clothing designers, The Neanderthals, in a cute yet foolish attempt to be cool. Not a good time to change your boy-next-door image, Ben! Weirdly enough, Cam is weary and declines the offer, only to spend the next couple of hours stuck on a train with his extremely high best friend on the night of their debut, on a stuck subway. The boys jump out the subway and onto the platform, in dramatic New York City fashion to attempt to make it to a portion of their pop-up shop event. After running the streets of the LES (Lower East Side, a bit of NY lingo for you), they stop at a fountain, where Ben jumps in and pulls Cam in with him to shake off the drugs he took. This moment set the tone for the season and reminded us why viewers love the show: friendship. Cam reverts back to his normal, overly-optimistic, and slightly oblivious self and reminds Ben of why they are going to ‘make it’ by yelling, “You think Brooks Brothers had each others backs like this?!”
Ben’s new girlfriend (whom think I he should stay with) and ex-girlfriend (she seems like the wrong fit for him) meet at the event and pretend like either of them is cool about the other. One of Rene’s bodyguards (of sorts) shoots himself in the leg, causing everyone to scamper out of the event just as Ben and Cam finally get to their big night. The episode ends with a sales representative offering them a card to help market their clothing. Happy ending.
I’m not crazy about the season opening and closing on a positive note. I can see that happening in Entourage and not minding too much, but on this show I like to see the emotional roller coaster the characters ride. Perhaps I am being a bit pessimistic and should be thrilled that things worked out well. As much as we love to see Cam and Ben struggle, we love to see them smile too. The show may be a bit too optimistic and working out a bit too splendidly for our main characters for my personal taste for the first episode of the season, but isn’t that the point? Don’t we want to Ben and Cam prospers? In general, I really liked the first episode because I refused to make this a comparison to its similar counter-part, "Entourage." I hope to see Ben and Cam in trouble with Rene again and see more of Domingo (Kid Cudi).
I am positive that there will be a fair share of problems in the horizon for the boys to face. Simply put: America loves a great “make it” story. America loves a great friendship story. There is nowhere better in the world to show both, than in the gritty streets of New York where the hustle never stops.
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