All The World’s a Stage, and All the Men and Women Merely Selfish Audiences

My main problem with criticism today, both formal and informal, can be summarized in the phrase: “the selfish audience.”

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The HIGHly Bearable MAINTENANCE of Being

Previous defenders of High Maintenance – one of HBO’s newest television series – have made sure to classify it as neither a show about marijuana nor a marijuana show; instead, they’ve tried at every juncture to clarify that though the main character is a drug dealer, he and his demonic green stuff is only tangentially related to the far more dignified, existential focus of creators Katja Blichfeld and Ben Sinclair (who also plays the character of the dealer, named simply “The Guy”). Though that assertion may sound valid after a peripheral examination of the pilot, such an archaic separation between the bafflingly still illicit drug and the philosophic, thematic underpinnings of the series fails to convey the depth of thoughts that the husband-and-wife team of Blichfeld and Sinclair are trying to communicate regarding the relationship between marijuana and the everyday angst of everyday people simply trying to get through their everyday lives with their sanity intact…or rather, highly maintained. High Maintenance is very much a marijuana show about marijuana, but like all superb art, the series simply uses its misunderstood subject as a jumping off point to explore the common struggles of being in the 21st century. Through that commonality of shared experience, we – smokers and non-smokers alike – should find comfort in knowing that we can rely on the lives of others to help us through our own, which is one of the foundational tenets of all great art. And High Maintenance, not so much despite of but rather because of its seemingly quotidian subject matter, is great art.

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