The dopey brilliance of High Maintenance isn’t just for stoners

The dopey brilliance of High Maintenance isn’t just for stoners

In 15 Minutes Or Less, The A.V. Club looks at the best in web series and short-form TV, recommending entry points that will take up no more than a quarter-hour of your time.

Even more than its picturesque neighborhoods and iconic landmarks, the real fascination of New York comes from its residents. They comprise an array of characters whose blend of neuroses and narcissism makes the city what it is: occasionally belligerent, often bewitching, always thrumming with energy. To New Yorkers, stress is a way of life, so who could blame them for indulging in a little self-medication?

Created by the husband-and-wife team Ben Sinclair and Katja Blichfeld, High Maintenance follows a nameless marijuana dealer (Sinclair) as he travels around the boroughs, delivering weed and interacting with people’s lives in unexpected ways. This pleasantly elastic premise connects the series’ spot-on and subtly hilarious character studies. The New Yorkers depicted may be recognizable weirdos, but sharp writing and nuanced performances ensure they never veer into stereotype. There’s a humanistic joy in each episode that matches Sinclair’s warm benevolence, which makes for a charming, lilting treat. 

Keywords: Brooklyn Bowls, habit-forming, big hit 

Where to start: High Maintenance is linked by a loose chronology—one episode’s protagonist may pop up for a cameo later on—but each entry can stand on its own. First-timers could do worse than the series’ third episode, “Jamie.” (Each installment is named after a peripheral but thematically important character.) One of the series’ smaller-scale entries, it centers on two female roommates whose well-observed flighty rapport escalates when they must figure out how to humanely extract an unwanted pest from their home—namely, Jamie. Tonally located between the brash merriment and quiet sadness of subsequent episodes, “Jamie” serves as a barometer for what the series has in store. Be sure to stay for the credits. 

Where to watch: The full series is available on the official High Maintenance website.

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