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Scene and Heard: What makes “Entourage” so awesome?

Tae Andrews | Wednesday, April 18, 2007

What makes “Entourage” so awesome? Although its storylines are nowhere near as serious and detailed as the longstanding arcs of “The Sopranos” (HBO’s flagship series), “Entourage” actually does have overarching plots and a sequential structure, unlike sitcoms and other single episode-focused comedies such as “The Office.” However, the real fun of “Entourage” lies in watching Vince and Company roll around Hollywood in shiny expensive cars, work out multi-million dollar film deals and create comedy along the way.

“Entourage” is sort of the male equivalent to college girls reading magazines such as “People” and “Cosmopolitan.” It’s a total indulgence in the glitter and glamour of Hollywood celebrity pop culture. Except that unlike the tabloid trash of grocery store newsstands, the show is awesome. “Entourage” is art imitating life creating art – a comedy about a fictional movie star and his pals, set in real-world Hollywood.

And what makes it all work is the characters. The movie star of “Entourage” is Vincent Chase (played by Adrian Grenier), who never goes anywhere without his posse: Eric (Kevin Connolly), Drama (Kevin Dillon) and Turtle (Jerry Ferrara). As a tight-knit quad of boyhood friends from Queens, the main group dynamic is Vince and Eric’s status as best friends, which gets complicated when they go into business together as E (his nickname) becomes Vince’s manager.

Over time, E proves himself a capable businessman in his duties as Vince’s manager. Vince himself is a paradox – everyone wants his life but no one really wants to be him. He makes up for his narcisstic and sometimes annoying tendencies, by paying his friends off periodically with new rides and sweet digs.

And he’s definitely not everyone’s favorite character: that title belongs to Ari Gold, played by Jeremy Piven, the paranoid, workaholic agent who spends his time alternating between cajoling Vince into new movie projects, living vicariously through the group and blasting Lloyd (Rex Lee), his oft-abused assistant.

Vince’s older brother Johnny Drama is a has-been hack, but he manages to get the odd job around Hollywood based solely off his proximity and shared family name with Vince. For his part, Turtle … well, Turtle’s just along for the ride on Vince’s coattails. The latter pair is a bit of an odd couple; no one really takes them seriously but they’re accepted as part of Vince by extension – as Shauna (Debi Mazar) would say, he “comes as a package deal.”

And it’s a pretty sweet one at that. In an episode of Season Two, Shauna, Vince’s press manager, calls Vince’s posse “The Lost Boys,” which sums up the whole package: four best friends who refuse to grow up, have never put in an honest day’s work in their lives and have no plans on doing so.

Whether it’s house-shopping for Hollywood mansions, wining and dining at Southern California’s finest restaurants or chasing skirts around town, the men of “Entourage” spend their nights holding glasses of champagne and their days sleeping, lazing around and trying to find ways to entertain themselves. Which, given their ridiculous amounts of free time and cash, is a recipe for both trouble and hilarious moments. In other words, the meaningless pursuits that young men spend their time on.

Part of “Entourage’s” appeal to college guys is that everyone has a group of friends that more or less resembles the show’s characters. Everyone has a friend like Vince, a pretty boy who spends quality time, leave-in conditioner and hair gel making sure his hair looks just right before going out.

Likewise, every guy wishes that E was his best friend – a loyal and protective bud who’s got his back. Everyone knows someone like Johnny Drama with an over-inflated ego and delusions of grandeur. And everyone also has a friend like Turtle, who’s short, irresistible to pick on and exists mainly for group comedic relief.

Basically, “Entourage” is a combination of any time you’ve sat around your dorm room with your buddies and thought, “If I had a million dollars…” or “Wouldn’t it be awesome if…” rolled together and cut into half-hour segments. From Vince and his posse trucking around town in an H2 Hummer to hitting up Las Vegas en masse, “Entourage” is a show about living the life.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Contact Tae Andrews at tandrew1@nd.edu