Like every other American man (an exaggeration, sure, but most of the guys I know), I have loved this show. I was pulled in by the chummy male cameraderie, the hot girls, the zingy one-liners, and of course by Jeremy Piven, who carries the entire program on his back. (Kevin Connolly is fantastic as well, and underrated.)
But last night’s Season 5 finale was too disappointing to keep watching this show. I mean, I say this knowing I’ll probably come back and watch until the end, but really what matters is the very fact that I’m even considering swearing it off for good. They may have lost me, and I’ll bet I’m not the only one.
The fifth season has had a whole host of problems:
1. The overall program hasn’t been what it once was—exciting, thoughtful, compelling. The program seems to have lapsed into the same circular plotlines again and again. Vince gets a movie, it’s a big hit, next movie, it’s a dud, he’s back on the B-list, desperate for an offer. He gets another one, it looks to be huge, the filming goes wrong and it tanks. Whatever. It’s hard to keep caring, though I also recognize this may be a problem with making a show about an actor—eventually, if he’s bankable enough, what else is there to tell? He’ll keep getting movies, as actors do. Therein lies one big problem: the sheer question of continuity. How long can a show like this continue?
1a. A sub-problem here is that the fringe characters are also too often ignored. When will Turtle be involved in something interesting? And how can we believe in him as a character—a perfectly normal, funny, social guy who’s content to be his rich actor friend’s chauffeur bitch? I don’t buy it. Perhaps these types exist in Hollywood, but if they do, they wouldn’t be interesting enough to get a spot on a hit television series. They need to give Turtle, and Drama too, some more stories. Especially when the “main character,” Vince, is so dull. This brings me to another huge problem that I’ve had since season 2:
2. Vince sucks. I used to say that it’s the character, not the fault of Adrian Grenier, but now I’m pretty convinced that Grenier himself is a shitty actor. But it doesn’t natter which is true—Vince as a person is not likable. He has no spine, cannot make his own decisions, acts cowardly, and generally says uninteresting things. What does he do on the program besides bang hot girls and smoke weed? He is not the protagonist in terms of who we the viewers care about, and he hasn’t been in a long time, so the show just needs to recognize this now and remove him from the action as much as possible. From what I can tell, the audience most loves Ari, E, and the Drama/Turtle friendship, in that order. Kevin Connolly, by the way, is fabulous in this show. Totally underrated.
3. The celebrity cameos are becoming, for me, too frequent. It’s like, we get it, the boys of Vince’s crew are well-known around Hollywood (in this fake universe). Enough. I fear that Entourage could be headed for Simpsons territory, that is, a show which in its twilight years has turned more and more often to hammy celebrity appearances to draw in viewers.
4. Another issue this season: what happened to Drama’s TV show?! Last we heard, in season 4, it was a hit, but now, in season 5, he’s been around for the entire shooting of Smokejumpers. So Drama’s been once again relegated to a Vince cling-on? Let’s see him out on his own facing drama on the set of Five Towns.
Spoiler warning: If you haven’t finished Season 5 yet, read no further.
Let’s get to the finale tonight, specifically. My problem is with the ending, which by definition is a deus ex machina, or divine intervention. Let’s review the facts: Vince sunk all his money into a project that did not pay off—Medellin. It turned out to be a shitty movie, everyone in the Entourage world agreed, and no one wanted to hire him. Finally, through finagling by Ari, he gets Smokejumpers, and through various factors that were totally unfair (or were they? The asshole director Werner told Vince he can’t act and you know, I buy it, because it’s Grenier) he got himself fired from the movie.
So again here he is, hopeless, and we’re all bracing for a sad, sobering ending and then—poof!—like magic, Martin fucking Scorsese calls him on the cellie and offers him a part in Gatsby? I don’t think so. That’s just too easy, and after four years of pretty high-quality television from this series, I expect far, far better. It’s just not plausible. Maybe they need to get Marky Mark back, because that shit will not fly for another season. Too. Damn. Easy.
Here’s hoping it’s better next year.
As for the Entourage controversy that has arisen from Turtle’s recent skewering of Seth Rogen in the season 6 episode “Amongst Friends,” here’s the dialogue:
[talking about Knocked Up]
Turtle: Just explain this to me: ugly guy walks into a bar, and hot-ass Katherine Heigl wants to hook up with him?
E: She was drunk!
Turtle: She wasn’t drunk, that’s my point! She was sober, and then she drinks with him. And then she goes with him even though, when she was sober, she could plainly see how ugly he was!
Vince: Funny guys get girls, and she went home with him because Seth Rogen’s funny.
Turtle: Yeah but he hadn’t said anything yet to show he was funny.
Drama: He’s so ugly, she knew he had to be funny. If he wasn’t funny, there’s no way someone that ugly could star in a movie.
Turtle: His ugliness is oddly fascinating. Especially in blu-ray. It pisses me off!
[Then throughout the rest of the episode, Turtle keeps asking girls if they’d bang Seth Rogen. They all say no.]
Now, not that Jerry Ferrara writes his own lines, so it’s not his fault, but someone wrote them, and my take is that it was indeed a low blow, plus outdated to put in so many Rogen insults; New York Magazine‘s Vulture blog had it right when they said that the inordinate amount of time spent in this episode debating the plausibility of Seth Rogen coupling with Katherine Heigl puts Entourage “two years behind the zeitgeist.”
While reading up on the controversy, I came across this reader comment that very nicely sums up the fact that all the problems I outlined above two year ago are still in play:
Watching ‘Entourage’ in Season 6 is like eating a mildly filling but tasteless cupcake. It’s not disagreeable, but you wonder why you did it in the first place.
Thank you, NYmag user ‘Why Am I Still Watching.’ The show still lacks legitimate conflict, exciting drama, or any deep story lines for Drama or Turtle to sink their teeth into (the Jamie-Lyn thing feels cheap and doesn’t really count as a fun new story for Turtle, because he’s dating her in real life). Things better heat up quick, and reuniting Sloane and E would only be a start.