September 11th, 2006


Entourage? More Like Décolletage!

When I first heard about Entourage, I didn't really know what it was about, and it didn't seem like that many people cared about it. Then, suddenly, it blew up. It was hard to escape talk about it. This talk, as it so often does, took over the VM4. I didn't really know what all the fuss was about; I barely knew anything about the show.

But since I had free HBO for three months, I had the third season of Entourage just sitting there on my OnDemand. One Friday night, I thought, I might as well watch it, right? It was just fluff; I was sure I would understand what was going on. For the record, this was a highly unusual decision. Perhaps because no one had really mentioned how heavy on continuity it was, I didn't adhere to my "Always watch from the beginning" rule. This is why I so rarely pick up new, currently running shows; I don't like jumping in in the middle.

The first thing that hooked me was the credits, which are awesome and use the rockingest theme song since Buffy. I later found out it was "Superhero" by Jane's Addiction, so go Perry Farrell. It's a credit sequence I don't mind watching every episode and rocking out to.

After two episodes, I was already slightly addicted and I couldn't figure out why. It felt like fluff, but extremely entertaining fluff. The characters were instantly lovable, even though they were mostly jackholes (except for E, of course). Plus, the serial nature of the show caused the end of each episode to make me feel like I did watching the first couple seasons of Alias: "Aaaaah!!! It's over? But! MUST WATCH NEXT EPISODE NOOOOOOOOOW."

So the show follows the career of Vincent Chase, budding movie star. Filling out the titular entourage are his brother, Johnny Drama (née Johnny Chase), who peaked with a starring role in a cult TV show called Viking Quest many years ago and is constantly looking for work; his best friend and manager, E (née Eric Murphy), who is the only person in Hollywood with a conscience; and Turtle (née...who knows?), who...actually, I never figured out what the fuck Turtle does. But he is Turtle! And, finally, we have Ari Gold, Vinnie's agent, played by Jeremy Piven, who just won an Emmy for his performance. But more on all of them later.

I burned through the third season in about a weekend, and there was only one major thing I was confused about, but mostly, I could follow the story pretty easily.

Then I watched the first two seasons, and damn, was that a weird experience. Because the characters all seemed much more assholish back then! Especially Vince, who was a lazy jerkface. But, in addition, it was great to watch the lead-up to the third season, to see the continuing story unfold. I felt really spoiled, though, because I knew which movies would end up getting made, which killed some of the tension. This is why I don't like spoilers! This is why I like watching shows in order! But I don't know that I would have gotten hooked as easily just watching the first season. It's possible I would have kept at it, but who knows?

The series as a whole turned out not to be as fluffy as I expected. A great deal of the appeal comes from the "insider" look at Hollywood, at how movies get made. The secret meetings, the cell phone calls, the lunches, the compromises, the serendipity. But in addition to that, it's sort of like a male Sex and the City. The same way that show explored the dynamics of four female friends, this one explores the dynamics of four male friends. It's such a guy show, I was really suprised. And...sort of pleased, being a guy and all. But in addition to that, it's about interpersonal relationships in business and how they can affect friendship as well, the balance of the personal and the professional. It's really an examination of the inner workings of Hollywood and how the delicacies of communication can have far-reaching consequences, how bruised egos can yield bruised careers. It plays with my pet themes of Making the Hard Choices and Power Struggles. Also, it can be fall-out-of-your-chair funny at times, though it's more of a half-hour drama.

If I haven't sold you yet, then let me say that Ari Gold is a fantastic character, and Jeremy Piven deserves his accolades. Ari is a total fucking jackass (in a hilarious fashion), but he is also really fucking good at his job. He's a jackass because he needs to be, because it's what gets things done. He does have a heart and soul beneath the bravado; we do get a rare glimpse from time to time. He honestly cares about Vinnie, and he wants him to succeed.

The other standout character is Johnny Drama, whom I didn't really like initially but grew on me very quickly once I accepted his personality. For God's sake, he calls himself Drama. But he's kind of like this poor, pathetic puppy dog who got kicked to the curb! Kevin Dillon turns him into an endearing bonehead. And his complete obliviousness to his incredible metrosexuality (He cooks! He gives fashion advice! He admires men's calves!) never gets old.

Also, I love Lloyd, Ari's gaysian assistant. Pretty much any Ari/Lloyd interaction is guaranteed to make you laugh out loud. Probably multiple times.

There's a lot more I could say about the show, but I try to say enough to make you fucking watch it and then let the folks who are already fans gush in the comments. In any case, you apparently have till FUCKING MARCH to get with the program here, but get on the bandwagon while it's still hot, huh? You can be cool like me.

Now, someone find me a "You do Aquaman, you stupid fuck!" icon.