The American Dream. It used to not just be an idea, but an ideal, a lifestyle for the American public of times past. Finding something you believed in to help get you what you needed. Now the college educated but unemployed with the tools in their hands find themselves with nothing but complaints and a lack of ambition. Well, not necessarily a full lack of ambition. Many are lining the streets of major cities across the country complaining they have nothing and the rich just keep getting richer. When how do you think the rich got there? In one of the returns to this years fall TV lineup, HBO’s How to Make it in America may have some poignancy that could point us in the right direction.
The economy may not be a main topic to the show, or ever come up at all in the characters, Ben Epstein (Bryan Greenberg), Cameron ‘Cam’ Calderon (Victor Rasuk), Rene Calderon (Luis Guzman), or Domingo Brown (Kid Cudi) just to name a few. The characters instead display a drive and ambition that one could use if they needed an example.
While many young ‘ambitious’ individuals are lining the streets to speak their minds on what is wrong with the world in which they’ve maybe only spent a quarter of their lives, the characters of HTMIIA are doing the same, but pushing their product, not necessarily their input. They are trying to take on the monsters of clothing by starting at the bottom with their almost brand Crisp. By actually doing, they are learning what it takes to survive in the continuously changing clothing industry, which may not be the appeal of the show, but the ways in which they are doing so could be.
An ex-criminal and uncle to Cam, Rene, is trying to do the same in a business occupied by the giants of Red Bull and Monster energy drinks with his brand Rasta-Monsta. He may not know legal business logistics but he is slowly learning that an idea and street muscles behind it may not be all he needs.
All of the characters are after something. Be it finding a job for a magazine, or selling weed to the NYC street dwellers, they don’t want to just get by, they want to do it with what they are fully behind.
You would like to think that today’s youth could be out doing the same, finding the niches of the industries to which they despise with a product they believe in and are fully committed to. It seems though that they would rather hit the streets in protest of the wealthy instead of going out and finding it themselves. Has our society, filled to the brim with constantly changing technology, detoured us from finding the passion and ambition to discover our own personal needs and wants to achieve the old cliché American dream? Where many (no matter the age, experience or hours behind some sort of screen) believe it should be served to us on a silver platter.
How to Make it in America may help teach us that it may not be our input but our output that gets us our American dream. Or if not at least how to make it, in today’s America.
Rasta-Monsta owner Luis Guzman
The Wire’s Ziggy, James Ransone as Tim
Lake Bell and Kid Cudi
Bryan Greenberg and Victor Rasuk