Photo Credit: HBO
Critics are already comparing HBO's new series, How To Make It in America (Sunday, Feb. 14, 10 p.m. ET), to one of HBO's biggest hits, Sex & the City. But actually, it centers on two 20-something guys, not four cosmo-drinking chicks. It has a grittier, more frenzied feel, with lots of quick edits and cutaways. And there's a hipper soundtrack (the theme song is "I Need a Dollar" by hip-hop/soul singer du jour Aloe Blacc).
I can certainly see where the comparisons are coming from: New York City was itself a character in Sex and the City, and the city's a life force of its own again in this show (its agent must have an "in" with HBO). The camera swerves in and out of Manhattan lofts and downtown art galleries; visits a Hasidic Jewish neighborhood in Williamsburg, Brooklyn; and quickly cuts over to the West Side docks, before shuttling back to Brooklyn on the subway.
The two Brooklyn pals Ben (Bryan Greenberg) and Alex (Curtiss Cook) are the epitome of "in the know." Basically, the guys live hand-to-mouth while running with a glamorous group of champagne sippers -- a crowd that parties all night in spacious lofts with fashionable drugs. Ben is a photographer and aspiring clothing designer; Alex is a fast-talking hustler relying on a winning combo of connections and street smarts. But their talents haven't translated into success, either personal or financial.
It's a common phenomenon in New York City, where up-and-coming artists and musicians rub shoulders with entertainment-biz types, benefiting from their town cars and expense accounts. But being so close to money, without actually having it, can be frustrating.
"I just want us to actually do something for once," says Alex. "Not just watch." So they decide to plunge headlong into the fashion-design business, despite being warned that "a million people before have failed doing exactly what you want to do."
What happens next? As the show's tagline says, in New York City, "everything can happen." Considering how fast this show moves, I believe it.
What city is your favorite setting for TV shows? Chime in below!