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How to Make It in America: The Complete Second Season(TV) (2011)
This half-hour comedy focuses on the urban adventures of Ben (Bryan Greenberg) an aspiring designer who has seen previous passion projects derailed by fate and fortune, and Cam (Victor Rasuk), Ben’s best friend, free spirit and would-be mogul.
For more about How to Make It in America: The Complete Second Season and the How to Make It in America: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray release, see How to Make It in America: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on October 5, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Bryan Greenberg, Victor Rasuk, Luis Guzmán, Lake Bell, Eddie Kaye Thomas
» See full cast & crew
How to Make It in America: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, October 5, 2012
It's not TV, it's HBO. I would add: unless it's a half-hour series, in which case there's no guarantee. While the premium cable network's hour-long, Emmy-darling dramas are nestled all safely and snuggly in their beds, its half-hour comedies and dramedies aren't afforded the same luxury. Quality may be higher, content may be more adult in nature, the writers' rooms freer to pursue their showrunners' visions, but the chance of cancellation? Cancellation can come just as swiftly on HBO as anywhere else, particularly when it comes to shows that clock in at thirty-minutes per episode. Hung: ousted after three desperate-to-offend ten-episode seasons. Bored to Death, one of HBO's finest and funniest: gone to the great city in the canceled series sky after three eight-episode seasons. But How to Make It in America, booted after two eight-episode seasons? Well, let's just call its cancellation a mercy killing and move on.
How to Make It in America isn't executive producer Mark Wahlberg's only premium cable baby. In Treatment only lasted three under-watched, under-appreciated seasons but left its mark on those who followed it thanks to the outstanding dramatic performances of Gabriel Byrne and a revolving door of supporting actors. Boardwalk Empire, now in its riveting third season, looks to continue for as many years as its showrunners need. Then there's Entourage, which exceeded most everyone's expectations and, after seven hard-fought years, wrapped its eighth and final season in 2011. At the root of its success? The public's obsession with celebrity and fixation with Hollywood; a foundation the series could lean on in times of mid-run creative stagnation. Unfortunately, the lower rungs of the New York fashion scene aren't blessed with the same obsession and fascination, leaving How to Make It in America with little to fall back on aside from its enthusiastic young leads and... well, Luis Guzman. The rest of the series, from script to shoot to screen, suffers from Entourage envy, and suffers badly.
Season Two doesn't waste much time dismantling much of the progress Ben (Bryan Greenberg) and Cam (Victor Rasuk) made in Season One, returning to familiar fields of self-sabotage and destruction these sorts of shows revel in. Drugs, ego and misplaced priorities bring the boys crashing back down to Earth, however briefly, but stands idly by as they splash down in shallow waters. Rather than focus on the fashion industry, How to Make It uses it as a prop in its snarky melodrama, forcing Ben, Cam, Rene (Guzman), Rachel (Lake Bell), Kappo (Eddie Kaye Thomas), Domingo (Kid Cudi) and newcomer Nancy (Gina Gershon) to run through the same humdrummery we've seen elsewhere a hundred times before. Their relationships fizzle, their attempts to "make it" are exhausting, and the dialogue the otherwise talented actors are given to work with is as flat and listless as the show's manufactured East Coast swagger.
New York City is a metropolis' metropolis, but even the Big Apple feels small and soulless here; smaller than it did in Season One, when How to Make It was at least backed by the verve and melting pot moxie of the city. If I didn't know any better I'd say it's yet another sign that the series' is resigning itself to cancellation. That's not the case, of course. The passion all involved invest in each episode is apparent, and Wahlberg's well-publicized hope that the show will find a new home one day says something. Without much to cling to, though, How to Make It in America is as inconsequential as it is tedious. I like Ben and Cam, I do. Or rather I like Greenberg and Rasuk. The series' cast is both its greatest and most wasted asset. Even the most skilled actors can only be as good as the material they're given, and in this case the material is underwhelming and uninspiring. I'm sure there are those grieving the loss of How to Make It in America. I already dealt with my grief... in Season One, when it became clear the series was sinking fast with no rescue in sight.
How to Make It in America: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, Video Quality
You wouldn't know How to Make It in America's days were numbered by looking at its 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer. Like its first season Blu-ray counterpart, the second season's striking presentation comes alive beneath the lights and shadows of the city, be it on the streets at midday, in a shop in Manhattan, or in a club, drowning sorrows long into the night. And with fashion being the name of the game, color is in abundance whether the boys are still breaking in or just starting to make it. Primaries punch, black levels dig deep, and contrast, while a touch hot on occasion, doesn't falter. Crush is an issue, as is some disruptive noise, but neither causes much trouble. It's also worth noting that detail is perhaps the most inconsistent aspect of the image, although only by nature of the series' photography, not some other underlying problem. Overall, there's really nothing to nitpick. Artifacting, banding, aliasing and other encoding mishaps don't show up and crash the party, and The Complete Second Season fares just as well as the first.
How to Make It in America: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, Audio Quality
How to Make It in America serves up a fusion of hip hop beats and hustling, bustling city hotspots thanks to HBO's solid DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track. It isn't a perfect experience -- the rear speakers enthusiastically embrace the series' music but fail to make every (key word being every) interior or locale as immersive or convincing as the last -- but it isn't too far off. With clear, grounded dialogue, spot-on prioritization, enough LFE oomph to blend the downbeats of the soundtrack with the thrum of the city, and the sort of ambient presence that creates a more enveloping New York, there isn't much more this particular lossless track could provide that it doesn't already. More ambition maybe, but as far as technical proficiency goes, The Complete Second Season sounds as good as it looks.
How to Make It in America: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
How to Make It in America: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
There's a successful show somewhere inside of How to Make It in America. It has all of the ingredients of a hit half-hour drama, talented young cast and all. It just lacks the drive and ambition a series, particularly one too easily dismissed as an East Coast Entourage, needs to thrive on HBO. Or any network for that matter. HBO's Blu-ray release of The Complete Second Season at least has a little bit of that drive. A little bit of that ambition. Not so much in the special features department (which maxes out at three commentaries and twenty minutes of featurettes), mind you. But where it counts: video and audio. I seriously doubt How to Make It in America will ever find a new home, regardless of how eager executive producer Mark Wahlberg is to keep it going. A failed show is a failed show, and no content provider is interested in sinking money into a series that couldn't even make it on HBO, where cancellation isn't a knee-jerk reaction to ratings. How to Make It in America has to figure out how to make it as a show before it can ever make anyone care how its young twentysomethings are making in in New York.
How to Make It in America: Other Seasons
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How to Make It in America: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, News and Updates
• How To Make It In America: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray - June 7, 2012
HBO Home Entertainment will bring How to Make It in America: The Complete Second Season to Blu-ray in September. This dramedy follows the lives and loves of two twenty-something hustlers (Bryan Greenberg, Friends with Benefits, and Victor Rasuk, Being Flynn) trying ...
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