Years ago, when I learnt about a show called Entourage from a few friends, I curiously asked what it was all about. “It’s like Sex and the City, but for boys,” replied a 20-something guy who believed that SATC was about made-up first world problems and Entourage was more of the same, but in a Hollywood setting. I later realised that this is exactly how television critics at the time wrote about Entourage.
Many years later, I think this statement correctly summarises what Entourage is all about. The show is set in Hollywood where Vincent Chase, played by Adrian Grenier, is an up and coming film actor who is trying to break into the big league. His friends Eric (Kevin Connolly), Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) and Drama (Kevin Dillon) become his entourage as they start to enjoy the perks of being successful in Hollywood. The show largely rests on the shoulders of politically incorrect and foul-mouthed Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), who eventually becomes the most interesting character on the show.
Why did Entourage work at the time?
Entourage was a popcorn entertainer and probably one of the very few ones that HBO aired. The show was set in the middle of glitz and glamour of Hollywood and often detailed what goes on behind the scenes of big movie projects. The series also featured a ton of Hollywood celebrities playing themselves, including the likes of James Cameron and Matt Damon.
Another prominent theme of the show that clicked with the audience was its representation of male friendships. As the series opens, we see that Vince has made himself a Hollywood star without any godfather and his friends, from before his Hollywood days, are his true confidantes. Of course, the story arcs follow their individual journeys but soon, the series started paying attention to Ari Gold’s track. He played Vince’s agent who is truly his well-wisher but his ways often collide with Vince’s manager and friend Eric.
The lavish lifestyle that is enjoyed by Hollywood celebrities was a central theme of the show and it made for some great visuals when they drove around in fancy cars and lived in mansions.
Does it still hold?
As much as people liked Entourage at the time, it was also at the receiving end of a lot of criticism. The way this show treated its women was always a point of contention amongst its followers. Entourage was known as a showbiz satire but the biggest problem with this show was its lack of plot.
With eight seasons and movie, there was a lot of content here but the problem was nothing ever really happened. It was just a cycle of Vince wanting to star in a movie, the problems in making the movie and then moving on to the next one. The political incorrectness of the show surely had no other place but HBO at the time but as we all know better now, the insensitive jabs were downright mean when, in fact, they were intended as comedy.
Entourage even had a character named Harvey Weingard (a producer) who was pretty much the counterpart of Harvey Weinstein as we now know him. In many ways, Entourage did give an insight into the abysmal Hollywood culture and while we were just spectators, this surely showed that Hollywood was not as glamorous as the show wanted us to perceive.
Created by Doug Ellin, it is now well known that the series was based on Mark Wahlberg’s experiences in Hollywood.
The unwelcome movie
After the show ended its 8-season run on HBO, there was a follow-up movie in 2015. Much like other TV series that make for some really horrible movies, this was a disaster. It was pretty much an extended version of the TV show where story arc worth an entire season was squished into two hours.
By the time the movie came, the audience had already seen over 90 episodes of the show, and much like the later seasons, the movie had absolutely nothing to offer.
The show won a few awards during its initial seasons but it was Jeremy Piven’s Ari Gold who became the heart of the show. The actor won three Emmys and a Golden Globe and is remembered as the best performer of the show.
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Entourage is streaming on Hotstar.