Like so many Linklater projects, $5.15/Hr. thrives off of character development. The characters in this show just so happen to be minimum wage workers, just trying to get by with too few shifts and payday loans. That's the basic premise of the show--following around eight or so employees working the "third shift" at a restaurant chain called "Grammaw's Kitchen" that looks like a low-grade "Denny's." But more than the everyday occurrences for these characters, the show opens up the context, integrating the crazy logic of corporate mandates and consumer debt into the text.
I would have loved to have seen where this show would have gone had it been given the opportunity to go there. The actors (particularly America Ferrera of "Ugly Betty") portray three dimensional characters in complex situations; but is it a surprise that HBO (funded by the subscriptions of wealthy viewers) was unwilling to take this on? Not in the least. It's so sad how the perspectives of those doing the most menial of jobs get filed away in some studio back lot.