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How to Make it in America: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit), French DTS 5.1, Spanish DTS 2.0
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
  • Region: ABC  (Region-Free)
  • Rating: TV-MA
  • Run Time: 261 Mins.
  • Discs: 2 (2 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: HBO Home Entertainment
  • Blu-ray Release Date: September 4, 2012
  • List Price: $49.99

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Series
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Series

[Rating:4/5]

HBO’s half-hour fashion dramedy series How to Make it in America was perhaps too hip for its own good. The series was unable to survive beyond this second season despite improving upon what was a strong, but perhaps at times weak first season. Like HBO’s other, now-cancelled half-hour comedy, Hung, How to Make it in America was about the lives of people trying every way they know how to get by in the midst the country’s poor economy. Unlike Hung, which skewed toward an older demographic and just by virtue of being set in Detroit probably more readily attracted a Middle-American audience, How to Make it in America was pure East Coast Metropolitan. This multi-ethnic, artsy, downtown mixture of Fashion Avenue elites, regular Joes, the New York party scene, and numerous in jokes and jargon was and is, most likely, the main reason for the series’ undoing. Beyond the coasts, Madison Ave., and the fashion industry, much of the situations in How to Make it in America is un-relatable to the regular American. Where Entourage, another industry-specific buddy series from HBO, was successful in making the story of a struggling actor and his friends in sunny Southern California relatable to a broad audience, this East Coast answer of sorts is too bogged down in hipster speak of “pop-up shops,” and the like. For a native New Yorker like myself, most of the series is instantly relatable, but even for me the fashion jargon loses me. None of those things take away from the undeniable energy and slick style of the series however, from its, obviously, great sense of fashion, to superbly captured location shots of all the boroughs of New York City.

Unfortunately for fans, this 8-episode season’s arc will not resolve anything as the series was cancelled too late for the creators to wrap up the storyline. So in this season, we have buddies Ben (Bryan Greenberg) and Cam (Victor Rasuk) continuing to try to push their fashion line Crisp. They find themselves a seller (Gina Gershon) to get their brand into the big chains, but she may just be using them to forward her husband’s (Nick Chinlund) interests. Meanwhile, Ben’s on again/off again love interest Rachel (Lake Bell; No Strings Attached; Burning Palms) is having a tough go of it after returning from Europe and having doubts about her career choices. Meanwhile Cam’s cousin Rene (Luis Guzmán; The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3; Yes Man; Magnolia; Boogie Nights) continues to try to go legitimate with his sports drink Rasta Monstah, but things get bumpy when he comes up against a Caribbean organization that thinks his drink’s brand name is racist.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

Season one of this series was shot on Super 35 format film on various Arri cameras. For season 2 the creators went high definition, shooting on the Arri Alexa cinematographic HD camera, although the look remains the same. In some scenes, it even looks as if there may be some grain artificially applied; either that or the inherent video noise in the Alexa looks that natural, which I wouldn’t doubt given some of the other productions I have seen done with this camera.

This AVC/MPEG-4 encodement arrives in a progressive 1080p frame rate framed at the original broadcast 1.78:1 aspect ratio. It has natural color reproduction and strong contrast. Detail is crisp (no pun intended), while the image shows no major anomalies such as macroblocking, posterization, or edge enhancement.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

From the din of the city streets to the thumping beats of the numerous parties or even the quieter moments where dialogue is the key, this DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48khz/24-bit) soundtrack is winner, offering great dynamic range, hefty low frequencies, a strong balance of sounds between the front channels and surrounds and clear dialogue.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2.5/5]

The episodes are slim, but rather strong here, with three audio commentaries and two rather brief but interesting featurettes.

The supplements:

  • Season 1 Recap (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:01:20)
  • Episode Previews (1.78:1; 1080i/60)
  • “Previously Ons” (1.78:1; 1080i/60)
    • Audio Commentaries:
    • Episode 1 “I’m Good” with creator/executive producer Ian Edelman, executive producer Julian Farino, Bryan Greenberg and Victor Rasuk
    • Episode 2 “In or Out” with creator/executive producer Ian Edelman, executive producer Julian Farino, Bryan Greenberg and Victor Rasuk
    • Episode 8 “ What’s in a Name?” with creator/executive producer Ian Edelman, executive producer Julian Farino, Bryan Greenberg and Victor Rasuk
  • Inside the Series (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:10:09)
  • 3 Days Downtown (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:08:25) – A look at various artists in New York City who have “hustled” their way to success.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

Despite my criticisms of why I believe How to Make it in America failed as a series, I truly do believe it was an enjoyable comedy/drama from HBO that deserved a shot at trying to build a wider audience. For fans of the series, this 2-Disc Blu-ray set is a strong way to relive it.

Additional Screen Captures

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Purchase How to Make it in America: The Complete Second Season on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

[amazon-product]B003L77GP6[/amazon-product]

Purchase How to Make it in America: The Complete Second Season on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Series
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]


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