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Ranking the Shows That I Watch – 25: Entourage

6 Sep

Here’s the funny thing about Entourage. It’s not the best show in the world; there aren’t a whole lot of levels, there isn’t much subtlety, and you’re not going to get layers of deeper meaning on every subsequent viewing (not that these are things you need to be a great show, just some possibilities).  However, I enjoy watching it more than I sometimes enjoy watching shows I think are better.  Now, I admit that sounds wrong at first, and if I always liked watching it more then, well, it probably is better.  Still, I always look forward to a new Entourage.  In today’s world of super awkward comedy and tension filled dramas, there’s room in my life for some popcorn, for a show that, even in the depressing and dark last season is still a total relative joy to watch.  Call it hanging out with the boys, if you will.

If Entourage truly had fallen off, and I think that’s mostly debatable, (I’d say it’s a lot more repetitive than it ever was bad) it had a bit of a boost last season, oddly due to its dark direction for Vince.  If you explained to me that things would go downhill, and not just career-wise but personally and with a drug addiction and all that, I probably would have thought that it would be a bad idea because it would involve taking from Entourage its essence, that it’s an escapist show about fun and good times.  I would have been completely incorrect though. Watching the downward spiral was not just good television, but it was surprisingly watchable for such a objectively depressing situation.  There were a couple of legitimately brutal scenes, including one where Vince hits on Minka Kelly and gets his ass kicked by a couple of NBA players at a party, but for the most part I still got a sense of enjoyment while also treading over ground Entourage hadn’t crossed before.

One note:  Entourage contains an example of a trap that television and movies often fall into when coming up with fictional content.  In the last season, formerly rogue drugged out director Billy Walsh conceives of a cartoon project for Johnny Drama, as a monkey who doesn’t fit in with the world.  In the world of Entourage, everyone absolutely loves this idea, and thinks it’s brilliant.  However, it seems terrible from the little bits that we see.  If you can’t make fictional content good, just never show it.  It’s not that hard.

Also worth saying:  Entourage may do the best job of celebrity cameos of any show around.  Obviously, it has more opportunity than most shows – why would celebrities be roaming around say, Scranton, Pennsylania, or Pawnee, Indiana? (though they manage to grab Detlef Schrempf twice which is super laudable)  Entourage takes advantage of this opportunity and does it well, having celebrities play outsized versions of themselves, or just invented absurd versions, proving to America that they don’t take themselves too seriously – such as Jeffery Tambor as an especially needy client of Ari’s, or John Stamos as so competitive that he can’t accept losing to Johnny Drama in ping pong.

Why it’s this high:  I really enjoy watching episodes of Entourage

Why it’s not higher:  I really do enjoy it, but I don’t crave it, pore over it endlessly, quote it (aside from “I am Queens Boulevard”) or laugh out loud watching it

Best episode from the most recent season:  How about “Bottoms Up” – Vince hooks up with Sasha Grey and begins becoming full-fledged down the vicious cycle that will be seventh season (man, this show has been on a long time) for him, resulting in awkward humor when he brings her to a meeting with Stan Lee.