Thursday, 10 February 2011
Remember the analogies section on the SATs? Well yeah, I just applied standardized tests to television and pop culture. Suck it, principal Rooney! And Entourage is definitely for men what Sex and the City is for women.
Sure, there are tons of girls out there who regularly watch Entourage. But, the fact of the matter is, it's a guys' show. It's made for guys who wanna escape to their dream world one half hour at a time. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with this, it makes for quite entertaining television. Nonetheless, it is a formula for redundancy, lack of character development, unsophisticated plot lines, and entertainment-at-the-expense-of-artistic-value-and-creative-writing.
I feel compelled to start by being honest about my Entourage experience. I watched every episode of the first three (three and a half?) seasons, and was really into it for a while. As males, we are programmed to enjoy hot chicks, bro time, and livin' the high life. I can't honestly deny the fact that I am envious of Vince and the guys' lifestyle.
I also must give the show credit for some great production value, as is always the case with HBO, Showtime, Starz, and the like. I enjoy the music, the set design, the cameos by famous Hollywood players as themselves, and the acting is pretty solid as well.
But, after a while the show became really mundane, in my opinion. It seems like E and Ari are always freaking out (but only Ari is funny) and really need to take some chill pills; Turtle is always down to Earth but kind of a tool; and Vince is always the carefree, charming, composed leader of the pack that every guy watching the show wishes they could be. Like I said, virtually no character development for the majority of the series' existence.
I feel like Vince is really the most likable character, the only one I think I'd wanna chill with, but he never experienced any real problems or suffered any sort of internal conflicts (until this past season, which I will get to). A huge aspect of good television, movies, reading, drama, or storytelling in general is when the characters that you most like and empathize with have some real problems. You feel like they are your own and you become anxious and concerned, even if it's only momentarily and it all works out in the end, as if you are them. (In comedy, the comic hero uses humor to help you shed the troubles and insecurities that you share with characters or are otherwise familiar with). When watching Entourage, I began to dislike the fact that the only character that I could really admire and relate to never struggled with anything more than having too many hot girls come on to him, or getting offered tons of money for a film he didn't want to make. Sure his quest to find success in Hollywood was good for a while, it was really the show's initial hook. But after that, new material was seriously needed.
I also grew tired of the great majority of female characters having no substance at all. I like hot chicks as much as the next guy, but when I'm watching television I want something that will stimulate my thinking. If I just wanna drool over a nice set of jugs I will read a Playboy, or something along those lines. If I want television that requires no intelligent thought, well that's what reality TV is for. Call me a "bitch" if you'd like, but I need more than just guys and pieces of ass to hold my interest and keep me entertained. The only real female characters were defined by their relationships to one of the guys: Ari's wife, Sloan (Eric's girlfriend), Ari's secretaries, and Vince's temporary agent/sexcapade. I feel like these individuals were quite limited, especially early on in the series, in their development as relevant parts of the show's plot.
This wouldn't be such a big deal if sex and ladies weren't such a prevalent part of the show's plot, but they are. The show centers on women regularly, but fails to build their characters or do anything interesting with them. I'm not well-versed on my Sex and the City, but I'm going to guess that most men who'd watch it would feel the same way about how their gender is represented and utilized on that program.
This past season, I actually caught a couple of episodes of Entourage, and, to my pleasure, a lot had changed. Vince was actually the fucked up one, struggling through addiction, hitting a low point in life, and dating an adult film star. I was also pleasantly surprised to see the other characters being developed as well: Turtle, Drama, and Eric are finding some success of their own, and Ari has showed us his sensitive side and can no longer be seen as a soulless prick.
But, to my disappointment, most Entourage fans that I know were unhappy with this last season. This tells me that lots of dudes who watch the show religiously are only watching it to check out topless babes and pretend that they themselves are attending those Hollywood rooftop parties.
Also, when I checked out the show's website I was sad to learn that the writers plan on concluding the series after one more shortened season that will consist of only six episodes. Why would they finally start to move the show in a new direction, after years of monotonous, yet admittedly awesome, bullcrap? It seems silly to me. Personally, I think that if they continued the show in this new direction, they may actually create a product that can be appreciated as a serious piece of work, and not as a softcore fantasy land that dudes visited to escape their boring and/or difficult real lives.
If you're interested in a show that provides similar vices along with a legitimate story line, check out Showtime's Californication, starring David Duchovny (from another great man's show, The X Files) as author Hank Moody. Duchovny lives in LA, so there's an abundance of sexy females around, but he is also a guy who's screwed up his life and is trying to get it back together. The foxy ladies, though fun to look at, likable, and dynamic characters, actually are a hindrance for Moody on his quest to win back is ex-girlfriend/baby mama and his teenage daughter. Duchovny's a great actor, and the story is much more intricate and well-written than Entourage, at least in my opinion. And it still has its hilarious moments, topless babes, and sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll. I was hooked right from the first scene. See below...
I've been thinking about getting back into Entourage after this last season. Should I bother catching up? Should I just watch the latest season? Or should I not bother?
How do you feel about the series, and the plot/characters (or lack thereof)? Is this analogy with Sex and the City valid? Ladies, do you see why guys don't like it? And ladies who do enjoy Entourage, tell me why I am wrong.
And in case you're wondering, as much as I wish it were the case, my High School principal was not named Rooney :(