"How to Make It in America" is back for a second season, and I have a quick review of the premiere, and thoughts on the series as a whole, coming up just as soon as I get into a proper men's haberdashery...

When I panned the "Entourage" finale, some fans of that show argued that I just didn't get it, that "Entourage" was always just a fun half hour about hanging out with these likable dudes, getting glimpses of LA and showbiz culture, seeing beautiful women, etc. And I get that. Not every HBO show has to be "The Wire" (or even "Dream On"), and I enjoy a good turn-off-your-brain show as much as the next guy. But I think "Entourage" rarely (especially in the later years) even made the effort to be a good example of that kind of show, and its sense of self-importance grew in inverse proportion to its quality as the show went along.

"How to Make It in America" is essentially the downscale New York version of "Entourage" - many of the same producers, a similar air of "everything's gonna work out just fine," and once Jerry Ferrara lost all that weight, Skinny Turtle became indistinguishable from Cam - but its lack of pretension, and the fact that Ben and Cam(*) were dealing with problems with genuine stakes (rather than Vince struggling to get CBS to order a TV-movie vanity project for Johnny Drama) made it a more pleasant viewing experience than "Entourage" had been for a long time. I still don't know that it's quite the ideal version of this kind of bros-will-be-bros(**) travelogue format (it could probably stand to be funnier in scenes not involving Luis Guzman), but it's not an unpleasant way to spend a half hour late on a Sunday night.

(*) It's either a mark of how disposable this show is, or else of how long HBO kept it off the air in between seasons, that I couldn't remember a single character name when watching the premiere. I remembered most of how the first season ended (though I'd forgotten Ben hooked up with his new girlfriend), but names? Not so much. 

(**) The show also does a much better job of writing for its female characters than "Entourage" ever did. In between seasons, Martha Plimpton moved on to "Raising Hope," but Lake Bell gets to play a three-dimensional person whose concerns extend well beyond whether she and Ben will ever hook back up.

The premiere allowed the guys to enjoy a taste of success and fun during their Japan trip, but not so much that it gave them any kind of cushion upon returning to New York. Ben's dope-induced subway freak-out probably was funnier on the page than the way Bryan Greenberg played it, but I liked the way the pop-up shop experience ended as neither a huge success nor dismal failure. (And there's a chance the gunshot incident might help give the guys a better "story" than the whole "Jewminican" thing.)

Again, nothing spectacular, but amiable enough. Maybe I'll check back in towards the end of this season.

What did everybody else think? 

Alan Sepinwall has been reviewing television since the mid-'90s, first for Tony Soprano's hometown paper, The Star-Ledger, and now for HitFix. His new book, "TV (The Book)" about the 100 greatest shows of all time, is available now. He can be reached at sepinwall@hitfix.com