High Maintenance continues on doing what made it great in the first place, experimenting, expanding on certain characters and stories they probably couldn’t fully develop as a web series and introducing new levels of emotion the web series had never really reached before. With that said, I must admit High Maintenance still has some flaws, most notably that of not knowing how to format themselves accordingly to that of a televised series. High Maintenance has always been off-kilter and before being under HBO they could have one episode be fifteen minutes and the following four if they wanted, but now that they have to structure each story around a determined timeframe the show does struggle narratively from time to time.
It appears as though writers Sinclair and Blichfeld have mostly settled for an episodic format where they first introduce one small story and then proceed to tell the one of greater scale and then weave these together towards the end. For the most part, this formula works and keeps the show on the rails, but to be honest, the best episode of this season was the one that completely forgot about the rules of the formula meanwhile the most boring episodes of the season were those that stuck to closely to it. That is not to say they should abandon the structure altogether because it keeps them grounded in their televised reality and allows them to plan story-lines for the future in an orderly manner, but what Sinclair and Blichfeld must improve upon for season two is finding the perfect balance between formula and story for each episode they write.
Besides the loss in structure, High Maintenance continues to be that free-flowing, beautiful indie crusade through New York’s apartments that we fell in love while watching the web series. Like the web series, some episodes are better than others, we’ve now got even a higher rate of reappearing faces, and there’s now this added self-referential comedy thrown in their that comments on the show’s independent vision under a corporate umbrella. Most of episodes range around the same amount of quality with one definitely eclipsing the rest. That episode, which I previously alluded to is Grandpa. Weird, charming, euphoric, and experimental, Grandpa captures what High Maintenance is all about. It is a story that you get emotionally attached because it explores new emotional territories High Maintenance (The Web Series) had never quite ventured into. Hints of this deeper emotional exploration are presented in the first episode, but it is not until Grandpa that High Maintenance is able to weave everything it stands for perfectly and present us with a heartfelt story of a dog coming into his own in the great expanse of New York.
High Maintenance maintains everything that made it so lovable in the first place whilst successfully transitioning to HBO. Not only does it have time to explore more stories with a higher budget and more time, but it also finds its time to investigate new layers of emotional depth and constantly challenges itself by presenting true three-dimensional characters. I cannot state the series is great since it does falter a lot in finding structure, but I can say it contains greatness, especially with in Grandpa, which is one of the most beautiful episodes of t.v. I’ve watched this year. If the show-runners manage to correct the structural problems for next season and continue on with what they are already doing, High Maintenance could very easily reach greatness and be cemented as this strangely simplistic beautiful piece of work that furthered the vision of independent filmmaking in the 2010’s.