Thursday, March 18, 2010

This Is Your Opinion on How To Make It In America: Episode 3 (Paper, Denim + Dollars)

As we are trying to get caught up on How To Make It In America, we have the luxury of watching several episodes at once. Monday night's back to back action saw us watch Episode 3 as the night-cap, and true to form, Paper, Denim and Dollars was better than Episode 2.

The basic plot outline is the same. The guys are looking for a pattern maker. They find said pattern maker. Pattern maker wants money. Cam and Ben don't have any. They hustle a little and get some money (Cam), while Ben attempts to ask his Dad for money but ends up at a library calling Al Gore's book "propaganda" and then wimps out (Do people still say "wimps out" anymore?). The guys pay the pattern maker. Lake Bell has a crisis at work. Martha Plimpton shows up as Edie Weitz and is AWESOME (more on this from AK) and Rene continues his menacing turn as a distributor of the Rasta Monsta energy drink, which brings me to the point/word of the day: juxtaposition.

It recently occurred to me that the inclusion of Rene and the Rasta Monsta in the episode arc has a dual purpose. First, he is the loan shark for Cam and Ben and serves to keep them properly motivated to make good on their deals and repay their loan. Second, he serves in juxtaposition of our anti-heroes, to wit:

1. Cam and Ben have no business savvy, are slightly inept and are relying on their charm and luck to succeed. Thus, there is a good (they want to better themselves) and bad (they have no clue) element to their plan.

2. Rene is a very savvy businessman who can see things in the big picture, has an excellent grasp of marketing at a micro and macro level and understands people very well. That said, he uses intimidation and thuggery to get what he wants and to improve his business.

The dichotomy of the two businesses is becoming one of the most interesting parts of the show for me. We see two different versions of how to make it in America, and it will be interesting to see how each develops over the course of the season. On a personal level, I can't quite decide who I want to succeed more. Ben and Cam are easy to identify with and both show a deep resolve to succeed. Rene is admirable in his own way as a recently released felon who picks himself up by his bootstraps. I guess we are supposed to cheer for Ben and Cam, but I won't be that upset if Rasta Monsta becomes a big hit.

You also have to wonder if Ben and Cam will realize that in addition to being their banker, Rene can offer some much needed business advice. They have approached nearly everyone else looking for help, but seem loathe to consider Rene as a source of help. Though their methods are in juxtaposition, the parallels between the two businesses is obvious. Both are looking to improve themselves and are taking personal initiative to do so. Lets hope our guys take the next step and ask Rene for advice.

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