Tuesday, October 4, 2011

"I'm Good" with How to Make It in America

     After a nearly year and a half hiatus, HBO's How to Make It in America kicks off its second season with "I'm Good." Apparently the 'I' in the title refers to Ben (Bryan Greenberg) and Cam (Victor Rasuk), who begin the episode in Japan, selling their t-shirts and working on expanding to hoodies. However, returning to New York City is a disappointment. They attempt to throw a party to build brand recognition, and all manner of things go wrong. Meanwhile, Rachel (Lake Bell) returns to NYC, too, and Rene (Luis Guzman) tries to make things right with his girl.

      The Japan sequence is nice, if a tad more optimistic than usual for the series. It would be far too easy, of course, if Ben and Cam already have things together by the beginning of season two. So they only succeed in a limited way, and for a short time. Makes sense. In order for their type of business to work, it needs to keep innovating. They have ideas, but their execution still has many bugs to work out. As such, while they beg and plead to get their hoodies featured in a store window, to no avail, they still lag behind someone else's brand new craze, which makes them feel like they haven't made it. And they are right.

     Normally, when a television series ruins the plans of its lead characters, and screws up an event so royally as happens in "I'm Good," it is a huge setback. Drama is tossed in the way just to make life harder. On How to Make It in America, the opposite may be trie. Ben and Cam miss their own party after Ben gets high and they get stuck in the subway. One of Rene's employees shoots himself, and the cops come. This should only give them more story and appeal, though, not to mention the fact that their event still delivered, selling quite a bit of product. It may take awhile for them to 'make it,' but they are well on their way.

     Rachel's return to the city is not covered in detail, not unusual for the show. She comes back, but no one really knows the circumstances surrounding the return. Perhaps she was just out of money and tired of traveling, as she seems to indicate? Yet, she doesn't tell anyone she is back at first, which seems like odd behavior. What is she afraid of? She did leave Ben awkwardly, but he has moved on, not something that likely makes her feel better. It doesn't help that Ben's new girl, Julie (Margarita Levieva), responds in kind when Rachel postures to her. It's a weird, but wholly realistic, sequence.

     Poor Rene seems to be making a real go as a legitimate business man, but gets into trouble with his girl when she models for him, and he uses a shot of her backside in advertising. Rene's efforts to win her back prove that he cares about her, but he also just doesn't seem to know how to treat a good girl. He's trying, and that should count. That he chooses to date a security guard is odd, considering his criminal history. Unless this whole thing, including apology, is a sham so he can gain her trust, and then access to something she is guarding. Let's sincerely hope this is not the case.

     How to Make It in America also stars Eddie Kaye Thomas, Shannyn Sossamon, and Scott Mescudi. Watch it Sundays at 10:30 p.m. ET on HBO.

     For How to Make It in America streaming episodes and DVDs, please click here.
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