How to Make It in America

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How to Make It in America
Created byIan Edelman
StarringBryan Greenberg
Victor Rasuk
Scott Mescudi
Lake Bell
Luis Guzmán
Eddie Kaye Thomas
Shannyn Sossamon
Opening theme"I Need a Dollar" by Aloe Blacc
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes16
Executive producersMark Wahlberg
Stephen Levinson
Rob Weiss
Julian Farino
Jada Miranda
Ian Edelman
ProducerJoseph Zolfo
Running time24–30 minutes
Production companiesHBO Entertainment
Leverage Entertainment
Closest to the Hole Productions
Big Meyer
Original release
ReleaseFebruary 14, 2010 (2010-02-14) –
November 20, 2011 (2011-11-20)

How to Make It in America is an American comedy-drama television series that ran on HBO from February 14, 2010, to November 20, 2011. The series follows the lives of Ben Epstein (Bryan Greenberg) and his friend Cam Calderon (Victor Rasuk) as they try to succeed in New York City's fashion scene. The show's second season premiered on October 2, 2011.[1]

On December 20, 2011, HBO announced the cancellation of the show citing failure to generate a large audience and buzz.[2] Executive producer Mark Wahlberg expressed hope in an interview for GQ magazine in January 2012 that the show would return on another network.[3]


How to Make it in America followed two enterprising twenty year olds hustling their way through New York City, determined to achieve their vision of the American dream. Trying to make a name for themselves in New York's competitive fashion scene, Ben Epstein (Greenberg) and his friend and business partner Cam Calderon (Rasuk) use their street knowledge and connections to bring their ambitions to fruition. With the help of Cam's cousin Rene (Guzman), who is trying to market his own energy drink, and their well-connected friend Domingo (Kid Cudi), the entrepreneurs set out to make it big, encountering obstacles along the way that will require all their ingenuity to overcome.

Cast and characters

Main cast

Recurring cast


Ian Edelman wrote the pilot, which the Entourage crew of Mark Wahlberg, Stephen Levinson, Rob Weiss and Julian Farino executive produced. Edelman and Jada Miranda were also executive producers.[4] "This show is a fun ride through the downtown scene, examining the cross section of people and how they relate to the relevant subcultures in NYC," Weiss, who was executive producing the pilot, told the Hollywood Reporter.[5]

HBO made a free early online-only premiere available on various video sites including iTunes and YouTube.[6] Season 2 premiered on HBO on October 2, 2011.

Title sequence

The opening title sequence was created by Isaac Lobe and directing duo Josh & Xander and produced by The theme song, "I Need a Dollar", was performed by Aloe Blacc of Stones Throw Records.[7] Shot in New York City, the sequence comprises a video and photography montage, bringing together the show's underlying themes of "grit, hunger, ambition, the multicultural whirl of New York and the culture-transcending pursuit of the almighty dollar".[8]


Season 1 (2010)

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateUS viewers
11"Pilot"Julian FarinoStory by : Ian Edelman
Teleplay by : Ian Edelman and Rob Weiss
February 14, 2010 (2010-02-14)N/A
When his skateboard-deck business venture hits the wall, 20-something graphic designer Ben agrees to fund a "sure thing" leather jacket hustle proposed by his good-times best friend, Cam. The partner's scheme morphs into downright desperation when Cam's cousin Rene gets out of jail, looking for payback of an old loan. Meanwhile, Ben is bummed to discover that his ex-girlfriend Rachel is now dating a hot hotelier named Darren, and finds little comfort in his horny pursuit of a sexy Jane during her late-night party. With Rene threatening bodily injury if Cam and Ben don't pay back the loan, a schoolmate-turned hedge-fund millionaire named David Kaplan ends up saving the day at least for the moment.
22"Crisp"Julian FarinoRob WeissFebruary 21, 2010 (2010-02-21)N/A
Using $3,000 they got via yet another (very) high-interest loan from Rene, Ben and Cam buy up a roll of (hot) premium-denim material, then hit a series of dead ends in their search to find a manufacturer to make samples of their "Crisp" brand of retro-70s jeans. Along the way they parlay a crashed late-night dinner with a top fashion designer into a brainstorming meeting that may, or may not, hold the key to their entrepreneurial success. Meanwhile, both Ben and Rachel realize that they haven't totally moved on and vow to try harder in the future.
33"Paper, Denim + Dollars"Julian FarinoIan EdelmanFebruary 28, 2010 (2010-02-28)N/A
Rene tries to buy out his marketing partners. Rachel rethinks her future after reconnecting with a friend, who returned from Africa. Ben and Cam work on finding a tailor and money to make a sample of their designed jeans.
44"Unhappy Birthday"Julian FarinoIan Edelman & Norman MorrilMarch 7, 2010 (2010-03-07)N/A
Edie, Rachel's boss, is throwing her a birthday party, and Ben is upset to learn that Rachel's new boyfriend Darren is going to attend it. Ben tries to occupy his time by hanging out with Kaplan, Cam, and Domingo.
55"Big in Japan"Joshua MarstonArty Nelson & Donal Lardner Ward & Rob WeissMarch 14, 2010 (2010-03-14)N/A
Ben and Cam meet with Haraki, a Japanese buyer, but their sample jean didn't turn out the way they had wanted. But Haraki likes Ben's tee that he designed back in high school and Haraki orders 300 pieces for Wednesday. Rene has trouble locating a huge pile of cash. Rachel and Darren experiment with Ecstasy, which results in Darren kissing men, dogs and other women. Darren loses some of Rachel's respect and she starts to fancy Ben again.
66"Good Vintage"Jonathan LevineSeth Zvi Rosenfeld & Ian EdelmanMarch 21, 2010 (2010-03-21)0.83[9]
Ben and Cam worry about filling their quota for Haraki, but a retail employee Julie helps them out. After a ride together, Darren asks Rachel to move in with him. Also, Rene wants to confront the man who stole his money.
77"Keep On Truck'n"Danny LeinerSarah Treem & Rob WeissMarch 28, 2010 (2010-03-28)0.57[10]
Ben and Julie get closer. Ben and Cam agree to help Rene out with handing out the drink and Rene works on getting more distributing rights for the drink. Rachel starts to miss Ben.
88"Never Say Die"Julian FarinoIan Edelman & Rob WeissApril 4, 2010 (2010-04-04)0.64[11]
Cam suspects Rene of having something to do with the theft of the truck. Rachel makes a life-changing decision.

Season 2 (2011)

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateUS viewers
91"I'm Good"Julian FarinoIan EdelmanOctober 2, 2011 (2011-10-02)0.47[12]
Ben and Cam return to New York City from their trip to Japan and start organizing a pop-up shop party to advertise Crisp. Things take a turn for the worse when Ben gets intoxicated after unwittingly smoking marijuana laced with PCP and the duo end up missing their big show. Rachel comes back to NYC from Africa.
102"In or Out"Julian FarinoJoey SolowayOctober 9, 2011 (2011-10-09)0.46[13]
Ben and Cam try to find a more experienced sales representative for their clothing brand. Rachel gets a new job but the post unnerves her. Rene gets hooked on the idea of launching a promotional campaign for his drink with a skateboarding stunt performance and soon chooses the suitable stuntman.
113"Money, Power, Private School"Simon Cellan JonesVince CalandraOctober 16, 2011 (2011-10-16)0.63[14]
Cam meets Lulu's father, Felix, a well-known artist who invites Cam to taste his pasta. Rene sets up his video shoot that will feature Debbie in short shorts, focusing of her behind; she brings her daughter to watch. Ben asks Julie the ultimate question, "Are we cool?" Rachel and Domingo go a few steps down the road to romance, and Nancy asks Ben and Cam to design the class T-shirt for a private middle-school graduation.
124"It's Not Even Like That"Julian FarinoSeth Zvi RosenfeldOctober 23, 2011 (2011-10-23)0.48[15]
Relationships: a wedding, romances, a breakup, and an upset stomach. Kappo worries about a wedding toast he's to give. Rachel gives Ben a gift she's brought from Paris; he makes it clear he wants a platonic relationship. They go to a wedding together on Long Island and have great time. Where does that leave Domingo? Rene's video has gone viral so he needs cash to pay for a large order of the drink — but he's spent his stash on a gift for Debbie. Nancy comes through for CRISP but she wants newer photos of their line, so Cam approaches Felix, looking for a big favour.
135"Mofongo"Miguel ArtetaArty Nelson & Donal Lardner WardOctober 30, 2011 (2011-10-30)0.57[16]
Ben and Cam charm two young out-of-towners; Rene tries to make amends with Debbie; Rachel goes from lost to alive in a single day.
146"I'm Sorry, Who's Yosi?"Simon Cellan JonesAriel SchragNovember 6, 2011 (2011-11-06)0.58[17]
Nancy sets Ben and Cam up with a manufacturer; Rachel pursues an edgy story;
157"The Friction"Danny LeinerJoey SolowayNovember 13, 2011 (2011-11-13)0.56[18]
Ben and Cam debate CRISP's future; Rene tracks down the origin of the drink tincture; Rachel celebrates a setback.
168"What's in a Name?"Simon Cellan JonesIan EdelmanNovember 20, 2011 (2011-11-20)0.56[19]
Ben looks to stitch CRISP back together. Domingo and Cam try to clear the drinks name; Rachel gets advice from Edie.


The first season received mixed reviews. On Metacritic it has a score of 60% based on reviews from 26 critics.[20] David Hinkley of the New York Daily News gave the show a positive review, giving the show 4/5 stars, and calling it a "winner".[21] Brian Lowry of Variety was doubtful of the series, stating "barring a dramatic leap in quality" it probably wouldn't last on pay cable.[22] Mark Perigard of the Boston Herald wrote critically, saying "this sad sack of a show plays like an East Coast, economically challenged version of his HBO hit Entourage."[23] Randee Dawn of The Hollywood Reporter said the show "isn't as textured and riveting as it thinks it is".[24][better source needed] Other reviews favored the show in comparison to Entourage.[25]

The second season did not get much positive reception. On Metacritic only two reviews are listed but both reviews are positive.[26] Maureen Ryan of Huffington Post wrote the show has "a little more discipline and focus than they did in season 1."[27] Phillip Maciak of Slant Magazine also added that the show is "anchored by gorgeous production design and the pop naturalism of its performances, How to Make It in America dramatizes this particular cultural moment with uncommon style and a little grace as well."[28]


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  3. ^ Hyman, Dan (2012-01-11). "Mark Wahlberg Interview on Contraband: Movies + TV". GQ. Archived from the original on 2020-11-16. Retrieved 2013-05-15.
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  8. ^ Poniewozik, James. TV Weekend: I Could Review 'How to Make It in America'... Archived 2020-11-16 at the Wayback Machine. "Time." February 12, 2010.
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  19. ^ Yanan, Travis (November 22, 2011). "Sunday's Cable Ratings: "Dead" Extends Win Streak to Six". The Futon Critic. Archived from the original on September 15, 2012. Retrieved November 23, 2011.
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  21. ^ Hinckley, David (February 12, 2010). "Hustlers try to design a dream on 'How to Make It in America'". Daily News. New York.
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External links