With Entourage’s series finale, an era of Hollywood excess came to a close. The show, loosely based on executive producer Mark Wahlberg’s early career, followed a young actor and his posse as they learned the ropes of the entertainment business in the not always forgiving heart of Tinsel Town.
Starring Adrian Grenier as Vincent Chase, the actor, Kevin Connolly as Eric “E” Murphy, Vince’s best friend and manager, Kevin Dillon as Johnny “Drama” Chase, Vince’s half-brother and chef (and a washed-up actor himself), and Jerry Ferrara as Salvatore “Turtle” Assante, Vince’s driver and assistant. In the early episodes, it seems as if the boys are there with Vince just to kick back and sponge off his success. But as they feel their way around the industry, and with the “passionate” guidance of Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), Vince’s agent, the guys mature into a group of successful and respected players.
The show was an early hit, landing numerous Emmy and Golden Globe nominations and awards. Creators Wahlberg and Doug Ellin have allowed TV audiences to get the vicarious kick of what an insider experiences, the glamour of the trendiest eateries, the beautiful LA mansions, gorgeous girls, hot cars, good scotch, and of course, the best weed.
And weed was typically the most exotic vice that the kids would indulge in. Granted, they would smoke a lot, but it wasn’t until Season Seven that Vince would start popping Vicodin, snorting coke, and dating a porn star. Luckily, he went to rehab, got clean, and gave the group a good wake up call.
Besides the mansions and girls, Entourage always gave us celebrities. Lots of celebrities. For example, musicians like Snoop Dogg, Mandy Moore, Three Six Mafia, U2, Mary J. Blige, Tony Bennett, Kanye West, Christine Aguilera and more. Athletes? Mark Teixeira, Tom Brady, LeBron James, Phil Mickelson, and if you want owners, there were the likes of Mark Cuban and Jerry Jones. How about directors? Entourage had lots, including Peter Jackson, M. Night Shyamalan, James Cameron, Sydney Pollack, Paul Haggis, Gus Van Sant, and last but not least, Martin Scorsese. And there were plenty in the “Oldie but Goodie” category stars like Ralph Macchio, Eric Roberts, Anthony Michael Hall, Gary Busey, David Faustino, and Bob Saget. Who knew Danny Tanner had such a potty mouth!
But what has really driven this show is the emotional component. In Season Three’s opener, “Aquamom,” the boys all had their moms come out to LA for the opening of Vince’s big flick, Aquaman. It was the sweetest of moments, seeing the guys treat their moms to a taste of fame. Entourage has always aimed for the young male demographic, but the depth of the stories appealed to a wider audience.
Emmy winner Jeremy Piven as Ari Gold epitomizes this scope of the show. His foul temper and fouler mouth wove a certain charm into every episode, but only because Ari was not a one-note character. Maniacally driven businessman, yes. Narcissist, yes. Misogynist and homophobe – absolutely. Rex Lee’s character, Lloyd, took immeasurable abuse as Ari’s gay, Chinese-American, put upon assistant. But more than once, Ari went out of his way to help Lloyd with either relationship troubles or by rescuing him from scummy potential clients. And as Ari’s marriage was seriously threatened in Seasons Seven and Eight, we saw the realization play out on his whole being – that all he held dear was nearly, almost, gone.
But what about the final episode? It was enjoyable, and nearly gratifying, but the various storylines seemed to be forced together too quickly. I believe that Vince saw something special in Sophia, either she was a challenge or she was his soul-mate (one wonders how would he have learned that so fast), but marriage? Ari and Mrs. Ari’s reconciliation felt a little more real than Vince’s plan. Melissa (Mrs. Ari) knew what she was getting into years ago, she loved him and she let stuff slide. I buy her wanting out, but I also believed she was hoping for another chance, for Ari to open his eyes and shut his mouth for once.
E and Sloan? I don’t know, she seemed pretty pissed when she told him she was pregnant. She was dreading another rollercoaster with E, especially with the pregnancy. But, still being a daddy’s girl, she was loathing telling Terrance to step off about the whole pre-nup issue. So, it could have gone either way. Storybook endings are great, but this bit felt rushed.
Will Drama find success with Johnny’s Bananas? Will Turtle perfect the art of entrepreneurship with his new millions? We may learn the answers to these questions and more with the antipated feature film version of Entourage.