Steve Potjeau: On HBO


I wrote a profile on the subject of HBO on my friend Steve Potjeau.

I came across a friend of mine who I have known for a while. He went to my church; I would run into him working at Staples. He has been in a few of my classes, and we have similar interests. That man is Steve Potjeau. Potjeau is someone who has a positive attitude. He is a creative man who has a love for movies, TV shows, and the creative process, but above all, he loves HBO. HBO has been a channel that Potjeau has watched for a number of years and sees it as a force for creativity that meets his high standards.

The diversity of of subjects and the styles that HBO tackles is one of the biggest factors in Potjeau’s love for the network. Some of the styles include comedy, drama and politics and all are broadcast without commercials. “Most of HBO shows that I’ve noticed depict a realistic, contemporary and gritty look at our current world,” Potjeau says. He also mentions all of the content that HBO has that is dark and why it grabs his attention. “Violence, profanity, sexual content, drug, alcohol, and substance usage, and political and social issues are all frequently featured in a lot of HBO programming, but are also built around fictitious characters, worlds, and storylines.” All of these characteristics of HBO combine to offer viewing pleasure for Potjeau. “As both a writer and a personal fan of these types of shows, that serves as my bread and butter.”

When Potjeau and I were discussing HBO, he elaborated on its impact being impactful and passionate. “I’ve always been an advocate of quality television as well as TV shows having that same type of scale of production value that movies have,” Potjeau recalls. What Potjeau means is that HBO is very much like watching movies due to how amazing HBO is. This is because the shows on HBO are often produced and directed by big names in the movie industry. Names that range from Steven Spielberg to Martin Scorsese to Mick Jagger, and more. It is not just for its production value that Potjeau is encouraged by HBO, but its creative side is also why Potjeau is so enthusiastic. He elaborates on this aspect as he mentions, “As a writer and creator myself, I definitely look to a lot of HBO shows as a creative influence on my own writing, as well as being able to watch and enjoy their produced content on a personal level.” This shows that there are many artistic elements that Potjeau carries with him in his everyday life that stem from HBO.

Recently with the newest HBO show, Vinyl, which aired this past Sunday, Potjeau was beyond excited for this show. It stars Bobby Cannavale, Ray Romano, and Olivia Wilde and my friend talked consistently for months leading up to the show’s debut. I enjoyed joining him in discussions about the excitement surrounding Vinyl. Potjeau mentioned all of the elements of why the show looked to be amazing including the actors, the producers, the cinematography, the writing, and almost every important aspect there is to a series like this. I knew Potjeau was anxious for Vinyl as he said, “I am beyond excited.”

I even spoke with two other good friends of mine about the show Vinyl. They are Nathan Shawen and Alex Lillquist. Both mention different aspects on how they thought Vinyl was. Shawn believed Vinyl was good but not great in the first episode. “Vinyl’s season premiere took its time, however I see it to be a show that will get better as the season continues on. Lillquist has a more positive view for Vinyl. “HBOs new found 70’s series starts off weak but ends strong with both performances and style in a series that shows promise in bringing us something new that we have not already seen from the drug fueled haven.” What Shawen and Lillquist are saying is that Vinyl’s first episode may have been dragging on, but there is much more fun and adventure abound as the series continues.

For Potjeau, he has a unique and intelligent side of him that gets his excitement up and running when new shows air on HBO. For months prior to a premiere, he researches that show in advance. He delves into the development, the people involved, the production value, anything that is important for viewers to know about a show. Four months before Vinyl was even popular, he already knew a lot about the show. “Based on what I have seen from the trailers, promos, and cast interviews, this new and upcoming series looks like the perfect blend of narrative, acting talent, and attention to detail.”

Recently, I sat down with Potjeau and watched the two-hour series premiere of Vinyl. He is someone who was a great host. He treated this premiere of a show like it was a premiere in his house. He had his kitchen prepped with cookies, pizza, and soda, and posted on media that we were both excited for Vinyl. As the show began, Potjeau was ecstatic from the very opening of the show. He immediately grasped the show and was curious about what event was to come next. He treats HBO shows like watching a suspense movie.

Potjeau views the older HBO shows to be still entertaining, even as re-runs. I was talking to him about previous shows like The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, and Boardwalk Empire. “Despite their age, they hold up very well and audiences will never grow tired of them.” Potjeau still loves Boardwalk Empire today and wishes it still was around. “Out of all the shows that I would bring back, I’d have to go with Boardwalk Empire.” Potjeau believes Boardwalk Empire has a lot of history that makes it enthralling for its viewers. “I felt there was a huge gap in-between 1924-1931, skipping over a lot of great history that could have been adapted onto TV.” What Potjeau is saying is that the show could have covered much more action and plot points for how big of an accomplishment the show was.

Potjeau has a good point about Boardwalk Empire. The show only lasted five seasons and there was a lot going on in that time frame. However, due to the contract, the show was not intended to go for more than five seasons. This is a disappointment. If someone like Potjeau was in production with a show like this, I can see Potjeau using his creativity to make the show last much longer. Potjeau has a creative mind for scenery and landscapes. One day on his computer, he showed me a game he is developing online. Potjeau created a house with three rooms, an upstairs, a downstairs, and a basement all in an online game simulator. I can see him developing something for an HBO hit show utilizing his imagination and technical skills. Potjeau is an avid learner and always looking for new creative ideas to pour his energy into. That is something I honor him for because I have seen his self-discipline and it has led him to be great at what he does.

In this day and age, there are so many other means of entertainment. There is Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Showtime, and Cinemax. I was intrigued by whether there is major competition for HBO with these other entertainment companies. Potjeau thought otherwise about the impact of competition on HBO. “HBO is here to stay, so long as good quality content continues to get produced. Other competing channels like Showtime, Netflix, and FX, have subjectively caught up to HBO, providing competition for quality programming.” What Potjeau is saying is that entertainment quality is improving overall due to increased competition. This is because everyone has different preferences regarding the types of programs they view, and the ones they are willing to go out of their way to access. Therefore since HBO has a massively big fan base and budget, it is right where it belongs with entertainment. The quality is just as good, but Potjeau prefers HBO because of the quantity of high quality shows he likes on HBO.

At times I wonder, if any channel is particularly as good as HBO, with honesty, not really. Most channels actually try to be just like HBO. Cinemax is the sister station to HBO. It has a similar format of programming, shared movies, but different shows. However, they are geared more to adult audiences for purposes that are more provocative. Cinemax cares more about the raunchy quality than the serious quality. Therefore, that is why HBO is my preferred channel. It has more to offer, strong programming, innovative movies and a great track record.

Potjeau’s reasons for loving HBO are inspiring. He mentions numerous examples of the HBO’s strong points, and he provides a generous amount of background to support his themes. If I could, I would recommend him to be a part of HBO or a network similar to it. Based on how much he knows and his creative mind, he would be the right fit in the industry. His creativity, his technical skills, his ideas, and his voice could all serve as a positive influence for a channel like HBO, the channel he loves.


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