Nearly eight years have passed since HBO canceled How to Make It in America, but it has lived on in the pantheon of shows that have earned cult status. It’s a show that has been applauded within certain circles—especially by people who’ve recently moved to a big city, hoping to make it big—and also decried within others. Upon its premiere, many critics lambasted it as the “East Coast version of Entourage” saying its premise is almost a mirror image of HBO’s hit show. At first glance, this critique has plenty of merit: The show follows a group of 20-something males navigating the professional world as well as their personal relationships and throws a dash of partying and socializing in there too.
Despite the similarities, How to Make It in America is a perfect antithesis to Entourage. The main characters are not rich nor famous, and they struggle to do things like pay rent. Hell, for much of the series, one of the show’s main protagonists, Cam Calderon, lives with his grandmother.
In many ways, the show is the embodiment of your average New York City urban professional: naive, eager, creative and hungry for the next challenge. Those recent college graduates who move to areas like NYC, Los Angeles or Chicago from small towns or suburbs possess an idealized view of what life in a big city can be, and more often than not, they find that these ideals are nowhere close to what reality is like. That might sound pessimistic and to a degree nihilistic, but it has an amount of truth as well.
Above all else, How to Make It in America is about trying to make it. Many people approach life safely and settle for a job they like or at the very least can tolerate, but it isn’t what they dreamed about doing. And that is a perfectly fine attitude, but it is certainly not for everyone. How to Make It in America is an imperfect, often frustrating ode to those willing to risk it all and bet on themselves.