This celebrated web series deserves its high (no pun intended) praise in large part for being less concerned with cannabis and more with everything and anything else.
The fact that every one of the 19 episodes is underpinned with an appearance by ‘The Guy’ (Ben Sinclair) has little to do with the tiny bags of herb he delivers. The intimate access his visits provide is what these stories really hinge on.
Through him, we get to know a variety of beguiling and befuddling characters. There’s the hunk doing the Da Vinci sleep diet, the young lovers who barely know each other, the couple Airbnb-ing their spare room, and the trendy chef catering a Passover dinner. For those who care about such things, there’s even an image-confounding performance by DOWNTON ABBEY alum Dan Stevens as a stay-at-home dad with a very unusual secret.
Each encounter in HIGH MAINTENANCE is stranger and more compelling than the last, utterly absurd and yet astoundingly true.
When HBO picked up the series, to be turned into half-hour comedy, it lost some of its heart and immediacy, muddying its focus to extend a type of storytelling that had once been at least as appealing for its brevity as the behind-closed-doors viewpoint. Ungenerously, they also took the previously free-to-view web series and cloistered it behind pay walls (either HBO’s, Amazon’s, or Apple’s).
While there are flashes of inspiration in the HBO series, the real magic is in the original web series. It will forever rank among the greatest ever made — and worth hopping a wall to watch.