HBO Picks Up Web Series ‘High Maintenance’ for Six Episodes

Cable network HBO has picked up the popular web series “High Maintenance” for a six episode season, and will also make the previous 19 episodes of the series—which previously aired on Vimeo—available via its HBO GO streaming service.

“High Maintenance” is the creation of television veterans and married duo Katja Blichfeld and Ben Sinclair, and stars Sinclair as a Brooklyn-based pot dealer known only as The Guy. The series is produced by Blichfeld, Sinclar and Russell Gregory.

While the series is billed as a comedy, its creators seems to have a slightly higher aim than the typical Cheech and Chong goofball stoner hijinks some might associate or assume with a show about a wandering pot dealer. The series takes an anthology format, each episode exploring the life of a different customer. In a 2014 interview, Sinclair told Vice, “We’re selling characters, not cannabis … . The temptation is always to write about the pot deal, and usually I’m the one who’s trying to bring that in, but Katja has been very good about reminding us both that our whole weed thing is that it’s not supposed to be a big deal. It’s about people, and their lives, and why they use weed.”

While other TV series and movies have explored the motivations a character might have for using marijuana, most to date have riffed on either a prolonged adolescence (see Judd Apatow’s oeuvre), some kind of satire of suburban ennui (see Showtime’s “Weeds”) or strived for political points. “High Maintenance” might be the first series to admit that a wide array of people use marijuana for various reasons—and that some of those reasons are mundane. The series is the first to treat marijuana as a non-issue, a kind of McGuffin that allows the creators to tell character-based stories.

NBC’s announced last month that the network will be going ahead with Adam Scott’s workplace comedy set in a Denver-based marijuana dispensary, demonstrating that marijuana is edging closer and closer to the mainstream. “High Maintenance” being embraced by a cultural tastemaker like HBO—home to “Game of Thrones” amongst other cultural obsessions—could do a lot toward removing marijuana’s stigma in states that have yet to legalize its use and sale.

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