By Casey Tourangeau

Mailed on June 11, 2015

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Dear Doug Ellin

Dear Doug,

Eight seasons and a movie. That’s a long run for any creative endeavour. Just keeping up the energy is a feat in and of itself—especially for something as fundamentally empty as Entourage. The Hollywood adventures of Vinnie Chase and his gang of charisma-free bros—brother and fellow actor Johnny Drama, his manager E, and driver Turtle (I’d name the actors, but let’s not pretend they’ll have any kind of career outside this)—felt like something that warranted three, maybe four seasons. It was always a trifle of a show, and the longer it went on it was obvious that there never was any there there. Nothing. At all. How could you keep returning to mine something that emptied its reserves so long ago?

What became clear to me while watching your movie version of Entourage, though, was that the eight season run is actually the key. In what I can only assume may be the first known instance of cinematic Stockholm Syndrome, at some point you stopped being any kind of observer of your subjects. Instead of viewing them objectively, you started to admire them. You wanted to be them; your own creations became your aspiration. That has to be it. It’s certainly the best way to explain why Entourage is as lazy—and as dumb—as its characters. It takes the easy way out of, well, everything.

On the plus side, I suppose, we do have a bit of a field guide for the lazy auteur.

For example, we finally have an answer to the age old problem of what to do when a writer needs his character to spout exposition, but can’t be bothered to make it in any way a natural part of dialogue: make them non-sequitors! It leads to awesome exchanges like this:

“It’s great Vinnie invited us to is yacht in Ibiza!”
“Yeah. I can’t believe he split up with his wife on their honeymoon!”

Need to introduce a sort-of celebrity that may not be instantly recognizable with an audience whose head isn't up the ass of Hollywood? Just have Turtle and E engage in call-and-response until the relevant information has been explained in a way that would embarrass the author of an I Can Read book:

"Hey, look!"
"Who's that?"
"It's Ronda Rousey!"
"The MMA fighter?"

Okay, I get it. Writing is hard. And if anything, Entourage is and always was about things coming easy. I'm not the first one to point this out to you, Doug, but Entourage may be the most conflict-free series to ever grace television and the big screen. HBO's comedy successors to your time slot, Veep and Silicon Valley both know that there's little—drama or comedy—in watching characters constantly win at life.

To be fair, Doug, you do seem to understand this on some basic level. In Entourage, you make the most token of gestures towards some sort of conflict: the supposed dramatic crux set up pre-credits is that Vinnie demands to direct the next movie in which he stars. I was willing to ride along; there’s something to be made from the proposal that Vinnie’s hubris will destroy his reputation and take his agent Ari down with him. But then the opening credit sequence concluded with the title “Eight months later.” You skipped over the entire production of the film to get back to … more parties, more luxury porn, and—worst of all—more bro-humour. Like the loathsome depiction of every female character in this movie, I guess I only have myself to blame for thinking things would be different this time.

It did let me watch Entourage in a different light, though. Instead of seeing it only as the not-funny, up-its-own-ass piece of misogynous dreck it most assuredly is, I could also see the self-reflecting prison you had built around yourself. When Vinnie asks Ari (Jeremy Piven, being the one reliable bright spot on the show, returning to erase any good will that remained for his character) for another 10 or so million dollars to finish the film, everyone worries that the movie is in trouble. Maybe it will reveal that, much like Adrienne Grenier, there’s absolutely nothing to Vinnie Chase. And then you go and make the biggest of bone-headed decisions: you show a scene from the actual movie.

That movie is some sort sci-fi reimagining of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde called, naturally, Hyde. As Ari sits though a rough cut, terrified that he’s about to witness a megaflop, we are treated to Hyde’s opening credits: Vinnie dressed a hooded, kind of Jedi-Knight-cyborg-DJ overseeing what looks to be the rave scene from The Matrix Reloaded. For real. And the thing is, I couldn’t tell if I was supposed to read this as amazing or laughably ridiculous. Okay, I knew it was the latter, but I wasn’t sure what side everyone in Entourage was on.

Thankfully, Doug, you came to the rescue as always with your dialogue designed to explain the scene for all levels of learning impairments. “It’s a masterpiece!” “It’s the best thing he’s ever done!” “This will win at the Golden Globes!” I might have bought this just a little if you hadn’t shown me something that has all the artistic merit of a cut Uwe Boll scene.

When Ari steps up as the champion for Hyde, willing to risk everything to protect its vision, I’m fairly certain I’m not supposed to be siding with the Entourage’s villain, the investor’s son, who wants to reedit Hyde himself purely out of spite because Vinnie stole a girl from him. Anything he does can’t be worse than what we’ve already seen.

So I had a brief-but-actual dilemma: was I watching a movie made by people so blinded by their own reflection that they can no longer tell when they’ve crossed the line into self-parody? Or was I watching a satire about those very people that was so razor sharp, so pitch perfect, that maybe I was the one too dense to be in on the joke? Maybe there were some signifiers that I just didn’t get - maybe the possibility of winning a Golden Globe is supposed to come off as the joke we all know it is. And then I remembered, in perhaps the biggest irony of all, Michael Bay already made that movie.

You actually believe what you’re shovelling.

Here's to winning more Golden Globes,


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