[Spoilers Ahead] In the comments for my first piece on Entourage, someone posed the question what’s the difference between this show and Seinfeld. There are several subtle differences. Seinfeld was populated by four amusing main characters and an entire universe of side characters; Entourage had two occasionally interesting main characters and Billy Walsh (Rhys Coiro). Most every episode of Seinfeld was funny, with clever moments, memorable situations, different things happening, and quotable dialogue; Entourage had none of those things. And, as terrible as many people found the going-to-jail ending of Seinfeld to be, at least that’s better than Entourage‘s ending of nothing.
Like I said, the differences are subtle, but they are there.
Last night, Entourage aired its final episode ever; it matched the feeling of “we don’t really care, and we don’t care if you care” that pervaded the entire season. However, before looking at what happened at the end, let’s review what occurred in the seven episodes leading to the epic conclusion.
I have to give credit to Drama (Kevin Dillon) for having the only storyline the entire season even remotely connected to the entertainment industry. His (and Billy’s) attempts to get their animated series off the ground while being sabotaged by a diva costar (Andrew ‘Dice’ Clay) was probably one of the best storylines this show has ever done. Clay himself gave a remarkable performance as a sad, pathetic, down-on-his luck version of himself, deluded that he still deserves the glory days of the late 1980s while living in a crappy, tiny walk-up apartment. Dillon was at his best, conflicted between getting another shot at restarting his career and sticking with Dice due to a combination of friendship and artistic integrity. (In the third to last episode, after it seemed like the studio was going to cancel the show, the series was approved. Everything works out for everyone.)
Making up the “emotional core” was Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), who spent eight episodes pining for his wife (Perrey Reeves) and screaming about Bobby Flay’s (Bobby Flay) fire crotch. It was repetitive, at least partially because the marriage difficulty subplot was trite relatively early in the series and partially because it was practically all Ari did for the entire season. However, it gave us the sexual tryst between Gold and studio head Dana Gordon (Constance Zimmer) with whom he had infinitely more chemistry with than his wife. Although it was clear that Ari was going to get back together with the Missus, it didn’t help that he got to interact with someone more his speed. Meanwhile Lloyd (Rex Lee) did nothing.
Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) continued his stupid business schemes. He sold stock in his tequila company before it went public, which would have made him a millionaire. Then he decided to franchise an East Coast-based clams restaurant in Los Angeles. To make the deal, he had to entertain the owners of the home restaurant
who were also the worst New Jersey stereotypes. Embarrassing tourists who asked him to spend lavishly on them and demanded a restaurant that required a significantly greater down payment simply because they liked the name of the street. While some viewers might want Turtle to succeed, when all I can do is doubt his business acumen, I want him to fail for being so incompetent. (In the second to last episode, after it seemed like Turtle couldn’t find any more investors for the restaurant, turns out Vince re-bought his stock and Turtle is now a millionaire. Everything works out for everyone, though the owners of Don Pepe will probably force the backbone-less Turtle to spend all his millions on tiles alone.)
Eric (Kevin Connolly) continues to be a terrible manager, and one who seems incapable of focusing on his business. I was actually perplexed most of the season because apparently he and fellow young manager Scott Lavin (Scott Caan) ousted a long-term stalwart of the business (George Segal) and started their own shop (or took over his old one and renamed it the Murphy-Lavin Group). Even with megastar Vincent Chase as one of their clients, that still probably wouldn’t be enough for two people with practically no experience, no capital, and no clients to overtake one of the largest management firms in the businesses. Incredibly unprofessional, Eric does not meet with potential clients (when you’re starting out as an unknown in one of the most competitive businesses on earth, you should take meetings with anyone you can get) and threatens to fire an employee who books a lucrative actor (Jonathan Galecki) he doesn’t like for personal reasons. That might work for Ari, but it doesn’t work for Eric.
Then we have the on again/off again relationship with trust fund baby Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui), a character so vapid and lacking in personality and substance that she makes Vince come across as Don Draper. Even though she’s been part of the show since season 2, I barely remember that she exists and didn’t even mention her during my first Entourage article. I have no problem with her and Eric being together (bland, empty people tend to be attracted to bland, empty people, and they have a bland, empty relationship that leads to bland, empty babies) or being apart, but it didn’t occur to me until this season that I think we were supposed to want them to get together. Anyway, she’s pregnant.
And Vince. After the police busted him for cocaine at the end of last season, he opted for rehab instead of prison. The show touched lightly on the fact that he wasn’t an addict (he wasn’t), but just partied a bit too much. When first released, however, none of his friends were aware of this fact and went to extreme limits to hide all temptation (booze and pot) from him. However, by the next episode, they seemed cool with him drinking, and only had a problem with him smoking pot because he had to take a drug test. I don’t doubt that Vince explained to them the situation, it would have been nice to see it. (In the fifth to last episode, after it seemed like Vince was going to fail the drug test and thus his probation, he used a fake penis with no problem. Everything works out for everyone.)
As far as his career goes, his latest movie, Air Walkers, was put on hold for his sake and then it was never mentioned again. He developed a treatment for a TV-movie based on the Chilean miners story, which Billy wrote an apparently amazing script for and they set it up to star Drama. Therefore, I guess Vince didn’t really do anything with this plot beyond earning a “based on a story by…” credit. (In the third to last episode, after it seemed like the network was going to cancel the movie or hire someone else to star in it, the movie was approved with Drama as the lead. Everything works out for everyone.)
He also spent half the season pining for a reporter (Sophia played by Alice Eve) because she didn’t fall for his hackneyed pick-up lines (“I respect women. Now let’s go for a drink so I can show you how much I respect them.” (paraphrased)), which of course means he was smitten. She reasonably refused to date him, so Vincent produced a DVD of all his ex-lovers saying how cool he was to them, which might be the stupidest courting move of all time and one deserving of relentless mocking and ridicule.
And that brings us to tonight…
As we begin, Vince just ended his first date with Sophia, a 24-hour affair that ended with him proposing and her agreeing, even though it’s clear that it’s only puppy love. At least from Vince’s side as we are never allowed any insight into why Sophia agreed even though it did not really fit with the little we know about her character. That’s pretty much all Vince did. At the end, the gang jets off to Europe.
Eric continued his season-long attempt to woo Sloan by harassing her, trying harder now that he knows that she’s pregnant with his child. That’s pretty much all Eric did. At the end, Vince rents Eric and Sloan a plane to fly anywhere so they can work out their differences. I’m sure they will, and in two months, Eric will find some other minor thing to freak out about and leave. Last time, it was because her father wanted him to sign a prenup.
Turtle and Drama argued on behalf of Eric to Sloan. That’s pretty much all Turtle and Drama did. Turtle’s restaurant? Who cares. Drama’s animated series and TV movie? Who cares.
Ari Gold and his marital strife took center stage. Not that this is the worst thing as Piven is the best actor in the cast, but the show is Entourage and not Agent for a Member of an Entourage, and, as I mentioned before, the problems with his wife were played out. Also, some couples shouldn’t be together even if both parties love one another; the Golds were such a pairing. Nevertheless, Piven provided a good performance that only highlighted the error of making the finale about three people in love when only one of them could handle the desperation and longing required to make us believe in it. At the end, an in-the-midst-of-a-breakdown Ari quits his job, abandons Hollywood, and decides moves to Italy with his wife. She agrees.
But waits, there’s a post credits sequence! While in Italy, a rich and powerful studio owner offers Ari his job! Now, Ari could be the guy behind the guys! Will he take the job? Well, that’s for the movie to tell us. A cliffhanger like that puts the Joker card at the end of Batman Begins to shame.
Am I being too critical of Entourage? Probably. Even from the start, everyone knew it was fluff, but does fluff necessarily means devoid of all substance? With the story told, Entourage ended up being about nothing more than idiots bored with everything, for whom everything works out, with only the most negligible suffering (plus Ari Gold). That could have been an interesting angle to take — the ennui that comes with having anything you want at your beck-and-call – but it never took that angle. It never took any angle. And I doubt the possible movie will have an angle either.
To conclude, let me throw in praise for another HBO series based in the movies — Extras. In it, extra, writer, and actor Andy Millman (Ricky Gervais) had to choose between fame and artistic integrity. This internal debate drove the character, especially during the second season and final episode. At one point, he is told that only the very best get to have both, and he is not one of those people. This made for a much richer character than Vinny Chase and a much more fulfilling show than Everything Works Out For Everyone.