Review: HBO’s ‘High Maintenance’

Ben and Katja, the Creators of High Maintenance, Pose for the Camera

“High Maintenance” is a depiction of modern cannabis consumers in New York City, shown through snippets of the life of one unnamed weed delivery guy and his varied customers all over Brooklyn. Popular culture has often presented images of marijuana users as one-dimensional “stoners,” their defining feature being their use of cannabis, but this web series breaks from that pattern. The Guy’s customers are parents, hipsters, cancer patients and young professionals. They are doctors, artists, designers, assistants and writers. They could be anyone you pass on the sidewalk or in a park or in the subway.

While cannabis is a common thread through each story, so are the day-to-day realities of living in New York and living in general. Rent hikes and gentrification, the challenges finding or keeping relationships, and occasionally awkward family gatherings are all themes that repeat throughout the mostly separate tales told in each episode.

Characters that were on the periphery appear in later stories as main characters and main characters from earlier episodes reappear as friends and acquaintances in later shows. The world is small, even in the big city. Each episode is a 5- to 20-minute glimpse into a character’s day-to-day life. It’s an observation with The Guy always appearing at some point to deliver the weed and often times a lot more. Much like his customers, he is not reduced to the stereotype of “weed guy” despite his continued namelessness. The Guy is many things to the community – he’s a pot dealer, of course, but as the episodes play out we can see that he is a helpful neighbor, an uncle, a teacher, a nurse, a therapist, a love interest, a matchmaker and even an exterminator.

The legal status of marijuana in New York is another underlying thread in the show. It’s the entire reason that these delivery services exist and The Guy finds himself in the homes of strangers on a regular basis. Even so, the worry of the characters seems to be more the judgment of society or impact on the household budget than the threat of jail time, though all would certainly be valid concerns. By showing multi-faceted pot smokers, “High Maintenance” also shows that that kind of judgment is outdated and farcical.

“High Maintenance” is definitely easy for binge-watching with a bong – the episodes are grouped into four seasons with three or four episodes each. Stoners will notice an impressive number of ways to get high being featured in the show as well – vaporizers, edibles and rigs, in addition to more traditional joints, pipes and one-hitters. “High Maintenance” is both an entertaining and realistic look at modern-day cannabis enjoyment.

While the show was originally featured on Vimeo, last year the creators of “High Maintenance” struck a deal with HBO, who greenlit six new episodes to run along with the previous 19 episodes.

Fire Up the “High Maintenance” Smoking Game

It’s fun to (and recommended) that you watch the shows in order, one season at a time, while playing along!

Rule 1: Take a hit when you see the opening text “High Maintenance,” just to get things started off right.

Rule 2: Take a hit every time someone on screen smokes (or vapes). Extra stoner points for matching the method of ingestion that is occurring onscreen.

Rule 3: Take a hit every time The Guy’s phone rings.

Rule 4: If you happen to have a strain in your stash that The Guy mentions onscreen, take a double toke or dab of it. For more of a challenge, take dabs instead of tokes.

Originally published in Issue 19 of Cannabis Now. LEARN MORE

TELL US, have you seen the show? What other cannabis-themed shows do you enjoy?

Laura Notini is a cannabis activist, enthusiast and MMJ patient currently residing in Potland, Oregon. She enjoys travel, cooking, everything about weed (and hemp!), fighting for legalization and blogging about all of it at www.marijuanderlust.com.

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