Why You Should Be Watching HBO's "High Maintenance"
In September 2016, HBO aired its new show “High Maintenance." Originally a web series that premiered on Vimeo back in 2012, High Maintenance was created by Ben Sinclair and Katja Blichfeld who signed with HBO for a six-episode television series back in 2015.
High Maintenance follows Ben Sinclair as a weed dealer/delivery man named “The Guy," who bikes around Brooklyn with a briefcase filled with nuggets for sale. Bearded and balding, The Guy serves both as a dealer but also as a confidant to his close clients. He shows up at their door, enters their home, and they share a joint. To them, The Guy is a friend.
It’s a weed show that’s about more than just weed. High Maintenance focuses on the clients and paints an almost painfully genuine image of the vastly different New York City residents, all connected by the desire for an increasingly socially accepted drug. It’s a beautifully shot modern mockumentary and nuances of each client is teased out with every scene.
It gives you just enough details, just enough shots, to tell a story of a complicated character in a surprisingly short amount of time. Each episode comes from a different perspective (episode three, the most touching, and arguably best episode, is told entirely from that of a dog) and never fails to leave you exhaling ‘fuck’ under your breath at the end of each 30-minute episode.
What’s most capturing about High Maintenance is that, while some of the realities of these characters are quite sad, the show approaches their story with light and harmless humor that pays homage to the strange, lonely, and above all, culturally diverse locals of New York. It de-romanticizes the average, contemporary New York lifestyle, which many other works aimed at that fail to do.
While the show as a whole, may be gold, some aspects of it can be quite unrealistic. For one, The Guy’s product is very steeply priced. In the first episode, he meets with a client who buys what seems two-eighths and charges him $200. Even for high quality, New York marijuana, that’s above the average.
Although I guess that’s the price you pay for a weed-delivering confidant. What makes this most unconvincing, though, is how some of his clients are able to pay for his product. Many of them are either unemployed or working low paying jobs. One walks dogs for a living, another one is “rotting in retail hell." Little income, living in New York, and spending copious amounts of money on bud? It just doesn’t add up.
But I think thats what makes this series great, you don’t have to relate to it to enjoy it. Even if NYC or weed isn’t your thing, High Maintenance’s brilliant storytelling can still make you laugh, pull on your heartstrings, and leave you hooked.