Girls is somehow seen as the definitive source on what life for white people in Brooklyn is like. It is given the gentle tenderness of robust financial backing and pervasive publicity, while a show with a believable script, realistic characters and an accurate depiction of how it all goes down off the L train can barely survive. In spite of the organic, low-budget nature of High Maintenance, its charm and genius lies in its authenticity. There is a biting humorousness to episodes like “Olivia” in which the protagonist, a nameless weed dealer played by the show’s creator, Ben Sinclair, displays an arcane emotional knowledge of each and every single one of his fucked up clients.
Where Girls consists of Lena Dunham prancing around nude, using household beauty items for iniquitous purposes and generally being disgusting on a moral and physical level, High Maintenance is a genuine exploration of the varying types of denizens who inhabit Brooklyn. Whether this is a result of Ben Sinclair’s seemingly telepathic rapport with his wife and collaborator, Katja Blichfield (who met Sinclair during her time as a casting director for 30 Rock), or simply the fact that, unlike Dunham, he’s actually had life experience outside of college is arbitrary. Whatever it is, there is an undeniable realness to High Maintenance that Girls simply can’t compare to.
On the one hand, a more generous amount of available funds for the show could inevitably be what destroys it, but, on the other, it would be nice to see what Sinclair and Blichfield would be capable of if they had Girls-level financing, media exposure and even longer episodes. While what separates the show from Girls in general is that it’s not relationship-centric, the two narratives are unignorable doppelgangers–though High Maintenance is clearly the more sickly sense of humored.
It isn’t a matter of taste when it comes to choosing the better of these two shows. High Maintenance is incisive, layered and dances circles around Girls‘ take on Brooklyn. So why should it have to take donations from its fans when it deserves the attention of a network like HBO or, better yet, IFC or Showtime, since, clearly, HBO’s gone a little soft in the wake of The Sopranos and Six Feet Under?