High Maintenance, the best show on the Internet, won’t hold that distinction much longer: HBO announced today that it has picked up the weed deliveryman web series for a six-episode run. Insert obligatory 4/20 joke here!
This is terrific news for fans of empathic, high-quality television, and a well-deserved boon to High Maintenance‘s married co-creators, Katja Blichfeld and Ben Sinclair (whom we profiled in our sister publication last fall). The show follows a bearded pot dealer, known only as “The Guy,” on his minor intrustions into the homes and daily lives of normal New Yorkers to whom he delivers weed. Each business encounter between the Guy and his customers is really a high-concept plot device to explore the private lives of New Yorkers, in all their neuroses and quirks. “We don’t need to write about the fact that people smoke pot,” Sinclair told me. “The more interesting thing is, why do people smoke pot? Or, what are the circumstances around it?”
Blichfeld and Sinclair bankrolled the first thirteen episodes of High Maintenance themselves, relying on their industry connections (Blichfeld is an Emmy-winning casting director, Sinclair an actor) to staff the show. Each episode ran between five and 12 minutes, typically took place in a single location, and streamed for free online.
Last year, they signed a deal with Vimeo to produce six more episodes, which streamed on Vimeo-on-Demand for $1.99 a pop. The infusion of cash led enabled High Maintenance to experiment with longer episodes, featuring more characters and more complex narrative arcs. (Later this year, all 19 existing episodes of High Maintenance will be added to HBO, HBO NOW and HBO GO.) Presumably, the move to HBO, a prestige channel if there ever was one, will only further enable this evolution.
“High Maintenance has proven to be one of today’s most highly-acclaimed online comedies,” said HBO’s Michael Lombardo, in a statement. “We are thrilled to bring this sophisticated and clever series to our HBO audience.”