Every episode of “Entourage” has the same arc: there’s some kind of problem with Vince’s career, then the problem goes away or is solved with minimal conflict. In last night’s season 7 premiere, the angst and fear surrounding Vince’s decision to do his own stunt evaporates when, after the successful execution of the stunt, Vince becomes EVEN COOLER than he was before.
That’s the nice thing about “Entourage”: people with fully functional frontal lobes and critical thinking skills tend to hate it, because the show has entered its seventh season content with being a frat boy’s dreamscape come to life, a world of suspended youth where Peter Pan is forever 25, surrounded by his bros, and nailing models.
But what if someone with a vocabulary defended the show? What if a pretentious douchebag saw hidden depth and meaning in the Sisyphean task of enduring this show every week? What if an Internet publication with aspirations of being Slate paid someone to defend “Entourage” to people with intellect? Let’s go to Salon, which has an article titled “The brilliant class tensions of ‘Entourage’.” Seriously.
Seven seasons into “Entourage,” the show’s transplanted Queens boys… still seem faintly amazed by how far they’ve come. Even when they size up a babe-laden yacht with a blasé-sounding quip, you sense an undercurrent of incredulity that’s of a piece with the gripe that industry veterans often lodge against them: Deep down, they’re naïve. In a sense, they are naïve. And it’s not just their default state. It’s a performance sustained for the world and for each other.
“Seven years into the show, the main characters haven’t changed.”
“Entourage” has long been described as the straight man’s answer to HBO’s urban princess fantasy “Sex and the City,” and superficially the description fits.
Au contraire: “Sex and the City” was kind enough to go off the air after six seasons.
From the sports cars and designer duds to the offhand sexist and homophobic one-liners to the endless array of curvy babes jockeying to bed Vince — or service one of his buddies as a consolation prize — the series is a fantasy of alpha male entitlement, and a weekly dip in filthy lucre only slightly less shameless than those cash baths that Scrooge McDuck used to take. It would be mere bubblegum wealth porn were it not for a singular, striking quality:
Jeremy Piven’s hairpiece?
Its fascination with class.
Oh. I must have somehow missed the Dickensian aspects. Now that I think about it, Vince is exactly like the Great Gatsby. (Note: I wrote that metaphor sarcastically before I remembered that no, seriously, he totally is. Guhhh.)
The lead characters’ blue-collar background gives them license to take big risks. It emboldens E to start an independent talent agency (now defunct, alas). It empowers Turtle to start his own business and go back to school to earn a degree in business management. And it inspires Vince to put art and personal loyalty ahead of money (unless he’s broke, of course). “I came from nothing,” Vince insists, “and as much as I like the toys, I can live without them.”
Really? It’s the blue-collar background that gives them license to take risks? Because I’m pretty sure it’s the wealth that Vince shared that allows them that luxury.
After playing the title role in “Aquaman,” the top grossing film of all time, Vince passes on the sequel and instead stars in “Medellin,” a Pablo Escobar biopic directed by his old friend Billy Walsh, the loony auteur behind Vince’s art house breakthrough “Queens Boulevard” (which Vince did in lieu of yet another action flick). When “Medellin” bombs at Cannes and almost wipes Vince out financially, he retreats to a beachside hut in Mexico with a couple of babes, plus Turtle and his then-girlfriend. When E tries to lure Vince home with the promise of a lead role in yet another action picture, Vince tells E he can live on the beach indefinitely for pocket change, so what does he need Hollywood for? (Duh. Because without it there would be no show.)
You are all witnesses to this paragraph. The author wants to prove how working-class the show’s rags-to-riches heroes are, so to show the stiff upper lip of the blue-collar work ethic, he uses Vince “threatening” to live the rest of his life on a beach with hot chicks. Man, if there’s ANYTHING that personifies the working-class ethic, it’s relaxing on the beach. Certainly not, say, working in construction for thirty years to make a better life for your children.
Class also colors the show’s portrait of machismo… Turtle and Drama are only slightly more civilized [than Ari Gold]. For them, “justice” means doing whatever they have to do to be able to look in a mirror and not see a punk-ass bitch staring back. They’re not above avenging slights by playing pranks or vandalizing the offending party’s car.
“This vandalism will prove I’m not a punk-ass bitch!”
In an episode where the entourage accompanies a cash-strapped Vince on an interview with a rich couple that wants Vince to appear at their daughter’s sweet 16 party, Drama thinks the couple is treating him in a high-handed way, so he boosts a bottle of scotch on the way out.
See, when someone who’s supposedly been a working actor for two decades steals a bottle of liquor, I don’t think of it as class warfare. He’s just an asshole. Kind of like the author.