Happy 420! Watch the 10 Best Episodes of High Maintenance

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Considering today is 420, there’s no better time for HBO to announce that they’ve picked up the genius pot delivery comedy about “getting high and staying sane in New York,” High Maintenance. Previously put out on Vimeo, the show will now get a brand new six-episode season courtesy of HBO—and we couldn’t be more excited. The original web series was created by husband-and-wife team of Ben Sinclair and Katja Blichfeld who have slowly been expanding the show and cultivating a devoted audience. When spoke to Ben and Katia last year, we noted that:

High Maintenance has the reputation that it does because it offers a decidedly alternative (read: non-judgmental) vision of life in New York City, including many people of varying class, gender and race without ever being fussy about it. It manages to avoid the cynicism of so many recent shows and movies about the five boroughs, even as it takes incisive potshots at the many life-hackers and trend-whores getting in the way of their earthy, benevolent (but never less than forthright) pot dealer, played by co-creator Ben Sinclair. The new episodes include a return appearance from Evan the asexual magician (and James Franco lookalike); a look at survivalist culture and its discontents; and a truly original love story with at least one hysterically intimate scene that could never be shown on television (or even Netflix, for that matter).

So today, in honor of the show’s new season on HBO and the perfectly fitting celebratory day, check out the best episodes of the series below and watch all of them HERE.

STEVIE

JONATHAN

BRAD PITTS

RACHEL

QUASIM

MATILDA

RUTH

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Two lonely stoners find each other in this sweet and spicy Brooklyn romance. Birgit Huppuch and Chris McKinney star alongside co-creator Ben Sinclair, who plays matchmaker and weed dealer to the pair.

Watch HERE

SUFJAN

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Regan and Ezra get priced out of Williamsburg and head to a more affordable neighborhood where they learn you can’t have it all when it comes to NY real estate. Featuring Hannah Bos, Micah Sherman, Avery Monsen, and Ben Sinclair.

Watch HERE

SABRINA

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Six long-time friends escape the city and head upstate for a weekend where they spend more time worrying about their careers than enjoying themselves. (Featuring: Chris Roberti & Azhar Khan (“Dinah”), Lynne Rosenberg (“Matilda”), Steven Boyer, John Early, Tonya Glanz, Ben Sinclair & Yael Stone).

Watch HERE

5 Highlights From Last Night’s Mad Men: The Emptiness Is the Problem

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The characters on Mad Men often reveal the most about themselves when they’re alone—but even then, they can remain a mystery to us. A particularly emotional moment in last night’s episode came when Betty Francis (née Draper) stood in her kitchen, placed her hands on the counter and stared downward at something we couldn’t see. It happened twice: both after the return of a surprise visitor from her past, and again after halfheartedly disciplining her two boys. Was it the realization of how quickly the world turns outside of her domestic comforts, or simply the burden of her ceaseless duties as a mother and a housekeeper? If there was a lesson to be learned from last night’s Mad Men, it was simply a matter of always standing your ground: be upfront and never apologize, or you’ll end up on the losing end.

SIZING PEOPLE UP AT THE OFFICE

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McCann invites company executives to a retreat in the Bahamas, and Don is expected to write “the Gettysburg address” on the state of the company, which is understandably a tall order; we never see him complete the task. (A classic exchange with Peggy: “Do you have my thesaurus?” “Probably.”) Meanwhile, Don meets with Ted and Peggy individually to discuss their ambitions for the office. Ted is simply interested in bigger accounts, while Peggy wants to “create something lasting,” and to establish a role as the first woman creative director at the agency. Don nags Peggy for further details on her life plans, as if to once again ask himself, is that all there is? “This is about my job, not the meaning of life,” Peggy says. “You think those things are unrelated?” he responds.

MATHIS GETS FIRED

Mathis, the green employee, asks Don for advice about how to deal with a snubbed client. Don, essentially, tells him to never apologize and to play it cool. But Mathis takes it too literally and makes a terrible joke, throwing his career under the bus. He busts into Don’s office, proving he isn’t able to take responsibility for his own actions. “You have no character,” he says. “Neither do you—you’re just handsome.” Don swallows his pride and retorts: “Everybody has problems. Some people know how to deal with them, other people don’t. You’re fired.” Let’s see if this will have any bearing on Peggy’s trip to Paris with Mathis’ cousin, who we haven’t seen or heard from in two episodes.

JOAN’S NEW MAN

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Joan travels to LA with Lou Avery on business. She’s staying at the Beverly Wilshire, where Warren Beatty is making conquests. As Lou courts Hanna-Barbera for his cartoon ambitions, Joan has a coup de foudre with Richard Burgoff (Bruce Greenwood), a newly divorced real-estate developer. He buys Joan dinner and wonders aloud how she could possibly be single. After they sleep together, he demands that she cancel her flight to “get lobster in Malibu, sit on lounge chairs by the pool in Santa Barbara…” “I need to work,” Joan says.

When she returns to NYC, Richard follows her, and she reveals that she has a 4 year old son. Richard is furious and accuses her of using him as a crutch. “I know what this is, and so do you.” He’s just sent his kids off to college and doesn’t want to be responsible for anyone else. But then he visits her at the office with a bundle of flowers, telling her that he’s buying property in the city and she can visit him at will—with or without the kid. Perhaps Joan has found the perfect compromise with an older, more experienced man who can be there for her whenever she wants, without any expectations of domestic commitment.

GLEN BISHOP PAYS A VISIT

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Sally is getting ready for a cross-country bus trip with her swim team, but someone knocks at the door: Glen Bishop, their old neighbor and Betty’s former precocious young confidant. He’s now a trim young freshman at SUNY Purchase en route to Playland with a new flame. To Sally’s dismay, he reveals that he just enlisted and is heading to Vietnam. “You’re gonna die! For what?” Sally yells, and runs upstairs. Glen leaves, as proud as he’s ever been. That night, Sally calls his school to tearfully apologize, but can’t reach him.

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The next day, after Sally leaves, Glen returns to the Francis residence to pay a visit to Betty. He sips a beer and gets close to her in the kitchen, confident as ever. “I know you’re mine,” he says, and tries to kiss her—but Betty hesitates. “This was going to be the one good thing that came out of all this,” he says. “I know you know the man I can be.” He then he reveals that he flunked out of college, and enlisted in part to hide the news from his stepdad. Betty sends him off, proud of him, but then has the previously mentioned moment alone in the kitchen. What has her life become after all these years?

DON SELLS HIS APARTMENT AND SENDS SALLY OFF

Don’s real estate agent, Melanie, comes into his apt in the morning and wakes him up. “The emptiness is a problem,” she says bluntly. “This place reeks of failure.” Don still hasn’t removed the wine stain from the floor from his tryst two episodes ago, nor has he rented any new furniture since Megan took off. “A lot of wonderful things happened here,” he says in his own defense.

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But when he takes Sally out to a Chinese restaurant with her classmates, one of her friends flirts with him: “You have a penthouse? When I watch TV, the commercials are my favorite part…” Sally accuses Don and his ex-wife of “oozing everywhere”, as if sex appeal was always their primary phenomenological trait. “You are like your mom and me and you’re gonna find that out,” he says. “You are a very beautiful girl, but you’re more than that.” He sends her off on her cross-country trip just before he gets the news that his apartment as just been sold. He stands in the hallway, sizing up the path that defined the last half-decade of his life. If the main existential question here is “where can a man live after the Upper East Side?” (and it surely isn’t), we have three episodes left to find out.

10 Essential Carrie Bradshaw GIFS to Celebrate SJP’s Return to HBO

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Sarah Jessica Parker is returning to HBO. Though it’s no Sex and the City we’re still excited. Her new show is called Divorce, and SJP has said, “I think we’re at an age where a lot of people have experienced it. Or are about to, or want to, or secretly wish they could. Or [are] so grateful that their marriage isn’t at that state. And I love the idea of telling that story.”

The series hasn’t begun production but it’s been confirmed that Parker will be producing. Divorce begins production later this year. Thomas Haden Church, Molly Shannon (yaaas), and Talia Balsam will be co-starring.

Meanwhile, let’s take this moment and celebrate SJP’s return to HBO with ten GIFS from the classic Sex and the City!

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One of Carrie’s most fabulous, well-known looks from the show.

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Group activities were always special on SATC, especially when new ideas were introduced from the bedroom.

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BEST. FRIENDS. FOREVER.

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Carrie’s drink of choice, of course, was a Cosmopolitan. The drink basically became synonymous with the show. We loved Carrie’s moments with vodka.

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Brunch was a MAJOR part of this show. Many memories and certainly many reactions took place.
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Manolo Blahnik was the favorite show of our damsel in distress. This moment is fashionably essential.
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The runway scene was everything. This is easily one of the best and most memorable scenes from the show.
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Carrie always had her signature necklace around her neck. It might have inspired many of us to do the same…
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Girls night out!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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How could we forget that time Carrie almost got arrested for smoking a joint on the street after Berger broke up with her ON A POST-IT NOTE.

Is the American Dream Dead or Alive?

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James Marshall photographed by Jaesung Lee for BlackBook Magazine

If you listened strictly to the news pouring out of televisions and newspapers across the country, you’d think America was in the pits. Political tensions run high, incomes are low, and that’s to say nothing of the inequalities rampant in minority communities. It’s bad news all around. James Marshall, whose other projects include West Village restaurant Whitehall, wanted to know if the bad news rang true: Was the American dream dead? Marshall called up Cole Haan and recruited friend and photographer Todd Williams to accompany him on a monthlong motorcycle ride to visit eight American towns and cities and staying along the way with people met entirely through social media. The resulting series, The American Dream Project, shows a more hopeful, persevering side of the United States not often seen in the news. Marshall, by the way, learned to ride a motorcycle only three weeks before embarking on his journey. 

What gave you the idea for The American Dream Project?

I had one too many of those days spent barraged by bad news in the media. This is such a great country. I’m from Windsor, about 25 miles west of London, but moved here seven years ago. I thought, No, I’m not going to just listen to this. Let’s find out if this news is true. Is the American dream dead? That seed grew into The American Dream Project.

What were your views of America before you moved here, what did the American dream mean to you then?

Actually, when I came to New York with a little bit of cash, I was so convinced I would be robbed that I split my money–it wasn’t so much, a few hundred dollars–into socks and distributed it around my apartment. I was living in the West Village. I just had an address and a key, and I moved here with that worry. JaesungLee_JamesMarshall_ColeHaan_BB
James Marshall photographed by Jaesung Lee for BlackBook Magazine

I’m surprised you had those worries about moving to a safe neighborhood like the West Village.

But within a few months you realize it’s the safest city in the world. You realize that Americans like people who work hard; they want you to succeed. And if you work hard, you can go somewhere, you can be successful.

Were you ever afraid this project wasn’t going to happen?

This was the biggest project I’ve done so far. I didn’t fully understand how expensive it was to pull a crew together and go across the country for a month. I approached Cole Haan because their philosophy and mine were almost identical. Like me, they believe that substance and quality mean something in today’s world. Cole Haan is also an iconic American brand, founded by immigrants just like me. This project would not have happened without them.

In filming The American Dream Project you met your hosts through social media.

I wanted this to be as genuine as possible. I wanted to meet real people, and the best way to do that was via social media. We sent out blasts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, hashtagging like crazy in the hope that people would reach out.

Were you surprised at how warm and inviting these total strangers were to the request of hospitality for two guys on motorcycles riding across America?

I was blown away. Complete strangers invited Todd and I into their homes, and in some cases, they put up the entire crew.

We’re all human; we want to connect. Yet it’s always a surprise when you connect with people outside of your normal day to day.

The media fills your mind with whatever they are putting out. We are bombarded with sensational or salacious news that doesn’t really feed us anything positive. If you’re not careful about what to listen to, we do tend to, or I tend to, think we are very different. But actually, we’re not. Most people want the same things: security, safety, validation, and to dream. My experience was that we really do have much more in common than we are told we have. It is kind of liberating. ColeHaan_JamesMarshall_JaesungLee_BlackBook_3
James Marshall photographed by Jaesung Lee for BlackBook Magazine

Was allowing social media and chance to dictate your project a different kind of creative process than what you are used to?

I’m used to having an idea and being able to direct something well produced. Here, I didn’t know what the end was going to be. It was refreshing because it was, “Who am I going to meet today?” It was very exciting and nerve-racking because this thing could have been a bust. It could have been one sad story after another.

How do you view creativity?

The new creativity is freedom–people are making movies on iPhones. Social media allows you to collaborate globally. You could have musicians in one country provide music for a Web series that is being made in another country. Everyone can be a creative talent. That could be good and bad because there is a lot of content out there. We need a creative revolution, which we’re in the midst of. With so many online outlets and cameras on every phone, people can make what they want, when they want, and get it out there.

How has this new wave of creativity altered the American dream?

The new wave of creativity has actually enabled people to dream and be inspired by other people’s work because they can see it within minutes of being made. It’s doesn’t have to be an executive in Hollywood but a kid in bumblefuck nowhere making things happen. There are no walls anymore; the walls have come down. 

Did your idea of the American dream change throughout filming?

It definitely evolved as I went along. But I think before I left, I had a view of the American dream that I think most people have, which is this postwar idea of a big house, white picket fence, 2.4 kids, and a dog. That is a prescribed American dream that is put in the minds of many of us, and that’s gone. But what I’ve seen replace that is staggering because it’s evolved into something better. Rather than people aiming for a preprescribed dream, it’s become an individual pursuit. People have now taken up the mantle to think of their own dream. Now the American dream is absolutely individual to each person, which I think is great. For people to be enabled to really dream is exciting. Discover more about the series here.

This story appears in the spring 2015 issue of BlackBook Magazine on stands now.

The 5 Most Important Moments From Last Night’s Gotham

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Gotham has three episodes left until its first season is complete! Which characters will go? Will the Joker ever be part of this season? Will the romance continue blossoming between Selena and Mr. Master Bruce? We shall see…For now, let’s take a look back at five pivotal moments from last night’s episode.

FISH MOONEY HAS TAKEN CHARGE OF THIS DEMENTED HOSPITAL!

“I’m the new assistant to the doctor, Fish….” Suddenly, a man known as “the Catcher” arrives unannounced and the entire operation the Doctor has concocted seems to ascend, well, instantly. She begins to recruit all the delirious inmates to revolt against the Doctor’s will and manages to break into his office, grabbing his private stash of keys. Next thing you know, she’s making her way off Asylum Island via a helicopter. Then, suddenly, she gets shot, but it’s not that climactic or suspenseful…It’s a wimpy letdown. Judging from what Jada Pinkett Smith has said in interviews about Fish Mooney not returning, this would be a gravely disappointing way to end her character. Let’s see what happens next…

THERE’S A KILLER KNOWN AS “THE OGRE” WHO WISHES HE WAS CHRISTIAN GREY.

His target? Women who go to “speakeasys” in South Village. Funnily enough, it feels like some mock of 50 Shades of Grey when we look at the killer named Jason, dressed up in his tie and suit trying to be all suave. That hair gel is just way too much. Of course, there are many a’ speakeasy the police didn’t even know existed, but thanks to Ed Nygma we have that sorted out. He finds all the establishments via liquor licenses listed.

SELENA KYLE PUSHES A MAN OUT HER WINDOW!

Selena Kyle pushes a man outside the window! Master Bruce, as he always does, goes about the town in pursuit of finding Selena Kyle because they obviously still have business to attend in finding who killed the Waynes/question Reggie Payne. When Reggie starts talking down to both of them calling them “silly children” part of Bruce wants to push Reggie out the window but instead Selena does the deed. It’s a major “OMG!!” for Bruce as he witnesses death out the window. I’m just not entirely sure if it made Bruce weak at the knees or not…

OUR BONDAGE VILLAN GETS FLASHBACK SCREEN TIME AND WE WITNESS SOME MAJORLY PREDATORY BEHAVIOR.

FLASHBACK! This Jason Lennon guy has a Tribeca high-rise loft and the first victim we see is so impressed by his luxurious space. “There’s some wine in the kitchen. Open anything you like,” Jason replies to such compliments. It’s not until he takes her to the “playroom” that things get way twisted. He takes a Polaroid photo of the victim beforehand and places the photo alongside the previous photos before the chosen victim in an open locked case of torture devices. IN ANOTHER FLASHBACK! The second victim gets in trouble gets in trouble because she cooked his lamb the wrong way… Are you furrealll? Should’ve gone with the sautéed vegetables.

PENGUIN CUTS A MAN’S FINGER OFF!

Our dearest Penguin has always had a knack for framing people and manipulating situations to get what he wants (as we have seen with this Moroni drama). This instance- Penguin wants serious payback so he cuts off some bar musician’s fingers to secure the place for welcoming Moroni into his trap. The finger literally drops on the floor without a drop of blood.

5 Highlights From Last Night’s Mad Men: Everything Must Go

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The ninth episode of Mad Men’s final season offered so many ideas of monogamous harmony gone horribly wrong. Nearly every major interaction was sexually charged, and mostly with pitiful results. The lone exception: the opening scene. Don Draper making a milkshake for his ex-wife Betty’s stepsons—a disarmingly cheerful moment that almost felt like a flashback until her husband Henry walked in. The scene worked as a twisted joke in advance of the marital discord that followed.

DON CHASES DIANA INTO THE DARKNESS.

It was a consummate Mad Men image: Diana and Don sit together in his kids’ bedroom the morning, surrounded by Day-Glo colors and sunshine. She tells him about her dead daughter, and the husband she ran away from. We see Don clean-shaven, hair slicked back, and hers perfectly coiffed. They look like they’re both in their early 30s—as youthful as one could look in that light, and in their circumstances. “Don’t you have to go to work?” she asks. “I don’t feel like it,” he says.

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How many half-whispered conversations and post-coital dissolves have we seen on this show, which are so often punctuated by demands that can never really be met? “I think if I were you, this would bother me,” Don says the next morning, anticipating Megan’s arrival: “but it shouldn’t. Because it’s almost over.” Don is quick to establish a sense of comfort in the face of impending chaos, but he’s running on fumes. By the end of the episode, he realizes that he can never truly put himself in anyone else’s shoes, let alone those of a single mother’s supporting herself in the wake of tragedy. “When I was with you, I forgot about her…I don’t ever want to do that.” She won’t run away, and won’t let Don run away either.

LINDA CARDELLINI’S BRIEF APPEARANCE.

In an episode filled with both new and returning guest appearances, we got a glimpse of Linda Cardellini’s Silvia, Don’s neighbor and flame from Season 6. They run into each other with their significant others in the elevator on the way to his apartment. Little seems to have changed between her and her doctor husband, Arnold, except that their marriage is perhaps even more stilted and passionless. It’s probably the last we will ever see of them. Diana recognizes that there was history immediately, asking Don how many girls he’s had in the elevator. “That’s not what that was,” he replies—but she already understands what kind of man he is.

MEGAN MOVES OUT OF THE APARTMENT.

Megan flies to New York to get her furniture back from Don’s apartment. She brings her mother, Marie, and her sister, Marie-France all on Don’s dime. Marie is quick to call the entire marriage a sham, making Megan grieve the situation out of her own insecurities. Since Don’s $500 cover isn’t enough to pay for the move and the lunch with Harry Crane, Marie calls up her old flame Roger Sterling, who smooths out the rest of the bill. Roger takes advantage of Marie’s invitation to take advantage of her in the now-barren apartment. Megan walks in on them after the act, having quit lunch early and avoided Harry’s gross come-ons. She is quickly reminded why she wanted to get out of this town in the first place.

“PIMA” RYAN  SEDUCES THE AGENCY.

SC&P finds itself in a torrid state of affairs when “Pima” Ryan (Mimi Rogers), a celebrity photographer clearly modeled after Annie Leibovitz, enters the office on hire to shoot a Cinzano ad for Peggy. She visits the office to take a look at her negatives and comes to a head with Stan, whose nose for competition leads him to take rather intimate photos of his own girlfriend.

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In the darkroom, Pima is impressed with Stan’s work, and seduces him—but she isn’t finished with her SC&P conquests yet. She enters Peggy’s office and tries to get her to let loose. “You’ve never been married? Me either. The adventures I would have missed.” Peggy resists her advances. She shares her experiences with Stan, whose confidence has also gotten a major boost. Will this encounter lead to an affair between the two of them, or was it merely thematic window dressing in relation to the rest of the trysts happening this episode?

DON AND MEGAN ARE OFFICIALLY OVER.

“Why did I believe anything you said?” Megan says to Don, in what will likely be their last encounter in the series. “Why am I being punished for being young?” For a long time now, it’s been clear that Don and Megan have very different interests, and their lives on opposite coasts functioned as a trial separation. Megan did her best to be a doting housewife, a surrogate mother to his children, and an adventurous sexual partner.

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But the novelty wore off for Don, and he found himself increasingly alienated from the countercultural lifestyle she began to enjoy in Los Angeles. Since the 1960s began, Don has always been less about “free love” than horizontal integration. As a result, the girl who Harry Crane described as “Ali MacGraw and Brigitte Bardot combined” is out of his life forever. He writes her a check for a million dollars, divesting himself of further responsibility. She hands him back their wedding ring. He returns home to find all the furniture gone: the wife who had everything left him with nothing.

Orange Is The New Black Is Back…and so Is Alex Vause

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Screenshot: Netflix

Orange Is The New Black’s third Season is coming soon, and it’s going to be a good one.

Crazy Eyes wrote something erotic, involving love between 2 people…and four other people…and aliens. Alex, or, “the Bettie Page of Litchfield,” is back and Big Boo gets a bob. Cancel any plans for June 12th–it will be a day best spent with our precious Netflix accounts.

Refresh the Season Two memories here.