High Maintenance recap: Craig

Gary Richardson, Franklin Ojeda Smith.photo: David Russell
Gary Richardson, Franklin Ojeda Smith.photo: David Russell /

High Maintenance focuses on two flighty young people and their unhealthy obsessions with Craigslist. Also, let’s talk about that Obama scene.

This week, High Maintenance revisits vignette form with a duo of stories about the addictive behaviors of two young people. Both of these characters peruse the online bulletin board Craigslist. One is stuck on getting free stuff and the other one likes to give stuff away… with an intrusive show included at no extra cost.

But first let’s talk about that Obama scene, y’all. Oh. My. God. High Maintenance knows their audience, and that audience certainly doesn’t include Trump supporters. Hell no. We miss the world where we had a sane, highly charismatic president who was good at his job. So when the Guy spots a cabbie that looks just like President Barack Obama, my heart skipped a beat.

The Guy (Ben Sinclair) gets flustered for a moment and calls after the cab, tripping and falling on a discarded door. He scrambles for his rape whistle and reenacts the (second) most iconic tableau from the 1997 blockbuster film Titanic. Voice rasping with emotion and (news cycle) exhaustion, The Guy shouts “Wait! Wait! Come back!”  It’s a funny yet fully heartbreaking visual. Americans are all on the sinking Titanic, and it feels like there should be a lifeboat coming to save us. But even Obama can’t save us now. And that’s tragic. So all we can do is laugh.

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Titanic tableau aside, this episode was definitely one of the more humorous installments of the series. We open on Marty (Gary Richardson), a 20-something phlebotomist. When we meet him, he’s fallen asleep while taking a woman’s blood sample. Oh no. Marty isn’t too great at his job, and we soon find out why.

On his way home from work, Marty gets his bike stolen, but not before thinking that he’s in the same bike shop at Temple Grandin. Odd and highly unlikely, but Marty seems like a quirky dude. He calls up the Guy later and has him deliver a sweet batch. When he mentions that his bike got stolen, the Guy suggests that Marty check Craigslist. So he does. But a quick search soon becomes an all-encompassing obsession that leads to dark places.

Marty is drawn to the ‘free’ section of the site. As a result, he snags some sweet finds. He picks up a desk chair, an exercise bike, and some pretty disturbing paintings of nude people with horse bodies. Not my bag, but you do you, Marty.

Eventually, Marty finds these cool leather seats from an old sedan. They’re located at a junkyard, covered in blood, and presided over by a doddering old man named Don (Franklin Ojeda Smith). Even though there’s a clear sign for Marty to not take the seats, he stays to clean them. Don sits and jabbers with him as he finishes the job.

What follows is a layered series of nightmares that’s befitting of Inception. He dreams that he’s bringing the seat home, but he’s attacked by a knife-wielding Temple Grandin. Op! Nope! That was a dream. Now he’s locked in the junkyard and has to climb over the barbed wire fence to escape. Oh. Wait. No. Now he’s getting up from a deep sleep on his couch and the Guy is still there, worried and concerned.

Is this Inhightion? Weed inception? Whatever it is, it’s clear that Marty’s futile pursuit of the thrill of free stuff at the expense of personal safety directly mirrors his weed usage.

High Maintenance has previously raised the idea of marijuana being potentially unhealthy for some users, and that’s an important message to send in this new era where weed is being openly embraced as a legal and medicinal godsend. While marijuana isn’t generally harmful – the human body physically can’t overdose on it, there are minimal withdrawal symptoms as compared to other substances – there are definitely times when a person should pause or stop use. Chief among those issues is a potential for psychotic breaks, which seems to be what is on the verge of happening to Marty here. The Guy is right in suggesting that Marty may want to stop using, but it’s ultimately up to Marty to decide.

Catherine Cohen, Bobby Moreno.photo: David Russell
Catherine Cohen, Bobby Moreno.photo: David Russell /

In another part of Brooklyn, a young woman named Darby (Catherine Cohen) is also availing herself of Craigslist services. Only Darby is feeding a personal kink of hers. She plops out a tit every time someone comes to the door for one of her free items. It’s an assault on the people coming to the door, but just tame enough to fly under the radar of reporting. (In a potential commentary on #MeToo movement, the episode also seems to be commenting on how women can get away with exposing themselves to others while men can’t.)

Darby spends most of her time alone or calling up the Guy for vape pens. When he comes over, she sometimes slips the nip, and sometimes not, and he’s clearly uncomfortable. In previous episodes, we’ve seen the Guy hang out (literally) with nudists – no problem – but Darby’s approach to nudity isn’t to feel free in her own skin or her own home; it’s for the express purpose of making others uncomfortable. She’s not a monster by any stretch of the imagination, but the girl is definitely a little cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.

In addition to giving stuff away for free, Darby also amuses herself by imagining up missed connections and posting them on Craigslist. One night she goes out on date with a dude (Bobby Moreno) who appears to have the same tenuous grip on the truth as she does. They share an awkward drink at a fancy bar, but when the fire alarm goes off, the dude shows his true colors when he suggests leaving without paying for the drinks, and then opens a cabbie’s door and leaves it dangling open on the sidewalk just for funsies. These two are chaotic evil, and they must be stopped.

While hanging out at a playground, the dude tells Darby a story about how he saved his twin’s life… and then accidentally killed him in a drunk driving accident eighteen years later. It’s not super clear if he’s weaving a story or telling the truth, but Darby doesn’t really care. She just wants to get her smooch on. As the two make out, a homeless man approaches and asks if they have any money to spare.

The date breaks for a bodega stop. Date dude tells the homeless man he can get whatever he wants. Darby goes to canvass the aisles, but we can see she’s itching to deploy her rogue boob. She picks a moment and then blammo! But, when she turns around, the dude is gone, and the men at the store react in shock to the eyeful they’ve just been given.

Addictions can come in all sorts of packages. People can be addicted to a substance, such as weed, but behaviors can also become problematic. Gambling, sex, compulsive eating, and shopping are four of the most commonly treated behavioral addictions, but trolling for free stuff or exposing oneself to strangers can also be an issue, especially if those actions are impacting the lives of other people. High Maintenance knows that we all just have to get by, but that we also need to recognize our behaviors before they get us into real trouble.

Until then, we’ll always have Obama sketching the Guy like one of his French girls.

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Random Thoughts Before I Go:

  • Gary Richardson’s comedic timing is totally on point. His character is living in his little own world in his head, but he maintains a sense of wonder and innocence about everything that surrounds him. Even when his chair hilariously breaks on him, the dude doesn’t miss a beat.
  • From the Lena Dunham lookalike to the casual nudity, I got a serious Girls vibe from the second vignette.
  • Hands down the best – and funniest – life advice I’ve ever gotten is from Abdullah (Abdullah Saaed) in this episode. Cue up all the best songs to car washes. Where has this amazing life hack been all my life?

High Maintenance airs Sundays at 10:30/9:30pm on HBO.