People think Entourage sucks because the characters are LA douchebags, but that’s wrong. You could make a fantastic show about LA douchebags. Swingers was about LA douchebags, and it was great. The promise of a show set in the world of LA douchebags produced by a guy (Mark Wahlberg) who’d lived among them since his teens was the only reason I ever watched Entourage in the first place. I lasted one or two seasons, long enough to realize that Entourage didn’t actually have anything to say about LA douchebags, and in fact felt like it was written by a guy in Iowa daydreaming about how awesome it must be to be an LA douchebag.
Entourage doesn’t suck because it’s about LA douchebags, it sucks because it doesn’t have the balls to let its characters be douchebags. It’s a vehicle for viewers vicariously acting out their douche fantasies while the characters themselves just shrug and pretend to be nice, practically begging an invisible focus group somewhere to say they have heart. No agency, no culpability. They didn’t land on douche rock, douche rock landed on them!
OH MY GOD, E, DID YOU JUST BANG TWO SETS OF SIAMESE CIRCUS TWINS ON JOSH GAD’S JETSKI? HOW DO YOU DO IT?
(*shrug*) Dunno, bro. Sh*t was crazy.
You know how Bella Swan in Twilight is just this barely written empty shell into which adolescent girls can inject themselves to experience sparkly vampire love and ethnic werewolf temptation? Vinny Chase is like that, a hollow vessel in a 90s George Clooney wig who bangs porn stars and hangs out with celebrities. E and Turtle are the hollow vessel friends who get to watch him do it. Reading a good script, the characters develop separate personalities without being described physically, and even before you’ve associated actors with them. That’s called “characterization.” By contrast, Entourage which might as well star three mannequins wearing different hats. People make fun of Johnny Drama for being a cartoon character, which he is, but at least he’s something. The other three aren’t even there. If Entourage was Seinfeld, there’d be a Kramer, but no Jerry, George, or Elaine. There’d be a poor man’s Kramer and three Kevin Connollys.
The less analytical version of those last five or six paragraphs, by the way, is “Entourage isn’t funny.” Not offensive, not morally bankrupt, not the death knell of western civilization, just sort of hacky and lame. Ironically, it probably wouldn’t get bashed for being boorish so much if it had any balls. I think I sort of chuckled twice, once at something Johnny Drama did and once at T.I., who displays more personality in a two-second cameo than Adrien Connolly, Kevin Grenier, and Seth Ferrara do the entire rest of the movie. (Those are their names, right? I’m not looking it up). The jokes have to be overly broad because the characters aren’t actually characters.
Here’s the plot, and maybe grab yourself a diaper before you read this because you might sh*t yourself when you hear about these high stakes: Ari, now a studio head, gave Vince $100 million to direct his first movie, which we’re told is great, but one of the financiers (a Texan played by Haley Joel Osment), wants to cut Johnny Drama out of the movie because he’s jealous that Vince is banging Emily Ratajkowski (don’t think about it don’t think about it don’t think about it). Turtle, who’s a billionaire now (don’t ask) could solve this entire problem simply by putting up a few million of his own, and offers to, but Vince tells him, “I’d never ask you to do that, bro.”
That’s it. That’s the entire conflict. And you know what? That would be fine under different circumstances. That these characters inhabit a world so low-stakes that their biggest worry is which rich guy’s millions they’re going to blow is one of the only honest parts of Entourage. But the central hallmark of Entourage is that it never satirizes, comments on, or utilizes the world in which it exists for comedy in any way. It’s a show about a group of dudes that feels like it was written by an alien who learned about dudes from back issues of Esquire.