High Praise for High Maintenance
Since the inception of the show when it was solely a web series, High Maintenance has proven to be one of the most accurate portrayals of modern society.
Each episode features a slice of New York from a new perspective, sometimes from a single character, many times through a group. The Guy (played brilliantly by co-creator Ben Sinclair) is an important element, delivering pot to these various locations. He serves as the window that allows us to experience these different lives. He’s a freely floating character, existing on the periphery, forever neutral, but serving a crucial purpose for his clients.
The Guy is never delved into, and purposefully so. We never see his apartment, learn who his true friends are or if he’s even in a relationship (although sometimes those last two are hinted at). What matters to the audience is the people he’s involved with through his work, some more heavily than others, and the worlds they inhabit.
What’s remarkable is how Sinclair and Katja Blichfeld, the second half of the creative team, depict how people go about their days and in the city. They give us insight into their living situations, anyone they may or may not be seeing, and the thought processes and decision making that makes them who they are. That is a lot to execute, and to do so well is a tougher task. When the series was still on Vimeo, and even before then when it was , that amount of content was being delivered in the span of 4-8 minutes.
It’s incredibly difficult to find a worthwhile show that can accurately reflect the world we find ourselves in now. Not everyone lives in NYC, let alone the United States, but the problems the people on-screen face are very real and ones we can easily relate with. Each episode shines a light on personal dilemmas that can be tough to deal with, and how they sometimes threaten the connections we have with others. It’s not about the larger, grand-scale issues that overwhelm us in reality (like a certain election, or another shooting) and sometimes feel too distant. The show is much more intimate, which heightens the level of investment, because you feel like you’ve met a lot of these characters.
An amazing aspect of HBO’s acquisition, aside from more content with the longer half hour episodes, was the entire previous series was offered as well in a large bundle. Not only that, but each episode was preceded by interviews with Sinclair and Blichfeld, filmed specifically for the ‘rerelease.’ Their discussions only enhance the viewing experience. They detail the inspirations for the plot and characters, the work that went into the production design, and the struggles that inevitably sprung up from the extremely modest budgets they worked with.
The reason High Maintenance deserves such praise is not only because of the high quality show this duo have created, but because as a whole it represents such a success story, and aspiring filmmakers should look to it as inspiration.