Jun/2019

Hi Bryan Here…..

I’m a huge sucker for HBO original programming.  HBO is pretty consistent in how amazing their original programming is.  With ‘How to Make it in America’, it just fell flat to me.  The show is okay to some degree.  I like the actors in the show especially Lake Bell.  She is going high places.  And Eddie Kaye Thomas (Finch) is pretty great too, but I just don’t really identify with any of the characters.  But I might be one of the odd men out on this one as I know tons of friends love the show.  But this release is packed with tons of extras and a pretty decent video/audio presentation.

THE SERIES

Basically the plot of the show is a group of twenty something girls and guys who are trying succeed in life with something they created.  They take unorthodox routes to achieve this and it doesn’t always work out of course.  Below is a rundown of the episodes from season 1.

Pilot



When his skateboard-deck business venture hits the wall, 20-something graphic designer Ben agrees to fund a “sure thing” leather jacket hustle proposed by his good-times best friend, Cam. The partner’s scheme morphs into downright desperation when Cam’s cousin Rene gets out of jail, looking for payback of an old loan. Meanwhile, Ben is bummed to discover that his ex-girlfriend Rachel is now dating a hot hotelier named Darren, and finds little comfort in his horny pursuit of a sexy young thing during her late-night party. With Rene threatening bodily injury if Cam and Ben don’t pay back the loan, a schoolmate-turned hedge-fund millionaire named David Kaplan ends up saving the day at least for the moment.



“Crisp”
Using $3,000 they got via yet another (very) high-interest loan from Rene, Ben and Cam buy up a roll of (hot) premium-denim material, then hit a series of dead ends in their search to find a manufacturer to make samples of their “Crisp” brand of retro-70s jeans. Along the way they parlay a crashed late-night dinner with a top fashion designer into a brainstorming meeting that may, or may not, hold the key to their entrepreneurial success. Meanwhile, both Ben and Rachel realize that they haven’t totally moved on and vow to try harder in the future.




“Paper, Denim + Dollars”
Rene tries to buy out his marketing partners. Rachel rethinks her future after reconnecting with a friend, who returned from Africa. Ben and Cam work on finding a tailor and money to make a sample of their designed jeans.



“Unhappy Birthday”
Edie, Rachel’s boss, is throwing her a birthday party, and Ben is upset to learn that Rachel’s new boyfriend Darren is going to attend it. Ben tries to occupy his time by hanging out with Kaplan, Cam, and Domingo.



“Big in Japan”
Ben and Cam meet with Haraki, a Japanese buyer, but their sample jean didn’t turn out the way they had wanted. But Haraki likes Ben’s tee that he designed back in high school and Haraki orders 300 pieces for Wednesday. Rene has trouble locating a huge pile of cash.  Rachel and Darren experiment with ecstasy, which results in Darren kissing men, dogs and other women. Darren loses some of Rachel’s respect and she starts to fancy Ben again.



“Good Vintage”
Ben and Cam worry about filling their quota for Haraki, but a retail employee Julie helps them out. After a ride together, Darren asks Rachel to move in with him. Also, Rene wants to confront the man who stole his money.




“Keep On Truck’n”
Ben and Julie get closer. Ben and Cam agree to help Rene out with handing out the Rasta Monsta drink and Rene works on getting more distributing rights for the drink. Rachel starts to miss Ben.




“Never Say Die”
Cam suspects Rene of having something to do with the theft of the Rasta Monsta truck. Rachel makes a life-changing decision.

THE AUDIO/VIDEO

The video has a 1080p  hi-def transfer with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio.  This transfer looks excellent.  All the colors are surprisingly very vibrant.  I was shocked on how colorful the show was.  The blacks are inky and deep and the detail of the city and people are top notch.  I was surprised how great this looked.  The audio has a DTS-HD 5.1 mix and is comes across crystal clear.  Don’t expect much action from all the speakers though.  This is a dialogue driven show, so not many action beats.  Of course taking place in the big city you will get an impressive ambient sound of city sounds surrounding you.  It sound pretty great overall.

THE EXTRAS

  • Audio Commentaries – There are eight commentaries total, but not on all eight episodes.  The eight commentaries are on only four episodes with two commentaries on each of the four select episodes.  I found this weird.  Cast and crew and the actors give their commentaries separately.  The actors commentary tack was much more fun to listen to especially with Guzman making me laugh all most each time.  I was hoping for commentaries on all episodes.  The crew commentary was informative, but was not as fun.
  • The Get By: Making it on the Streets of NYC (HD, 19 min.) – A brief look at skating in NY and how the big time pro skaters now made it big from the streets.  Pretty interesting.
  • The Legend of Wilfredo Gomez (HD, 10 min.) – People from pro skating talk about the life of Wilfredo Gomez who is a mysterious skateboarder who roams the streets of NY.
  • Hustle Stories (HD, 24 min.) – Some behind the scenes featurettes are here that have too many clips from the show in them and less behind the scenes stuff.  But when the actual making of the show and interviews start, it gets interesting.
  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 6 min.) – Here are six random deleted scenes from the season.  It was easy to see why these were left out.
  • THE ULTIMATE WORD

    ‘How to Make it America’ wasn’t the show for me really.  It just never got past that point where I was hooked to any story line or any character.  It all fell flat.  Like I said before, I might be the odd one out here.  But I will say HBO definitely put out a great release here.  The audio/video presentations are top notch and the xtras are decent with some good info although some of the set up was strange.  If you are a fan of the show, then you must own this bluray.  HBO did a phenomenal job.

    -Bryan Kluger

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