Entourage's Fall From Grace: Charting The Downfall Of The Ed Hardy Of Television
In its heyday, Entourage was a show many of us watched. The hit comedy was a critical darling and Emmy Award-winner from HBO; viewers loved the chemistry of the central cast, the insider look at Hollywood, and the glitz and glam constantly on display. Even now, it's hard to believe how many celebrities were willing to drop in just to play themselves for a minute.
Unfortunately, due to Entourage's superficial trappings, many of us also overlooked the show's glaring issues. Rampant sexism, frequent homophobia, and general douchiness pervaded the entire series. And beyond that, it wasn't even a very realistic portrait of Hollywood, And while it was easier to chock up Vince and the gang's behavior as "boys will be boys" shenanigans at the time, we're at a cultural moment where this kind of toxic masculinity looks much worse in hindsight.
This list takes a look at Entourage's fall from grace in the years since it went off the air in 2011. It wasn't so long ago people were hailing its praises, but now it's considered the Ed Hardy of television. If you're looking to watch something that aged more gracefully, but still has this show's comedic charm, you can also check out our list of shows like Entourage.
Jeremy Piven IS The Abusive Ari Gold
Pretty much everyone's favorite Entourage character was Ari Gold, the screaming, scheming, fictional stand-in for notorious real-life Hollywood power agent Ari Emanuel. Played by Jeremy Piven - who won a staggering three Emmys and one Golden Globe for the role - Ari was supposedly redeemed by being a family man and by his loyalty to Vince and his other clients. However, it's hard to overlook what a pig Ari was through the lens of the #MeToo era. Complicating matters is the fact Piven himself has been accused of multiple accounts of sexual misconduct, stretching back to his time on Entourage and before. Between the accusations against Piven and the character he plays, everything about Ari feels kind of gross in retrospect.
The Show Failed Its Female CharactersPhoto: Entourage The Movie / HBO
Entourage abused fictional women in a truly spectacular way. Often reduced to objects or obstacles, a lot of the conversation around the series centered on critical examinations of how the show failed its female characters. In these post-Weinstein times, shows that mostly use women as props for male amusement are not looked upon fondly.
On top of this, even the women who were given speaking roles on the show barely had anything to do, and pretty much never passed the Bechdel Test. In fact, over eight seasons, the women on Entourage only spoke to each other eight-and-a-half times.
Lloyd Existed Solely To Be The Butt Of Racist And Homophobic Jokes
What's worse than racist and homophobic jokes? Racist and homophobic jokes directed at the same character! Rex Lee played Ari's assistant, Lloyd Lee, for seven seasons on Entourage. Although his performance was always funny and a bright spot in what was otherwise an ensemble of nothing but straight, white dudes, Lloyd was also often the butt of the joke. Once again, it's easy to see how much pop culture has changed in just a few years when you go back and watch the way Ari's offensive comments to Lloyd are played for laughs. To make things worse, Lee claimed that he heard similar jokes off camera too.
Nothing Ever Really Happens In The Show
The biggest criticism of Entourage, both in its time and after, is that nothing ever happens. Every week on Entourage, it's the exact same thing: Vince is going to do a movie, then for some reason it looks like he can't do the movie, then something happens and he can again.
On very rare occasions, Vince DOESN'T get to do the movie. But when this happens, he generally finds another movie to do in fairly short order. Other than an addiction plot line in Season 7, Entourage's main character rarely faces real struggle. It is funny that so much of Vince's career has now become a part of the pop culture landscape, but in the end, the show's message is basically that if you're a moderately talented actor with a good group of friends around you, things will always turn out fine.
The Subplots Got Boring And Overshadowed The Main PlotVideo: YouTube
Even if you thought Vince's never-ending cycle of almost not getting a role before getting one was repetitive, you have to admit it wasn't nearly as bad as the subplots involving the rest of the cast. Turtle's tequila company, Drama's constant struggle to get out of his brother's shadow, E's on again/off again relationship with Sloan; all of it was bad, sometimes borderline unwatchable.
In Eric's case, his storyline was at least connected to Vince's, as he becomes Vince's manager and then branches out to take on other clients. Then there was Ari constantly dealing with domestic issues or backstabbing at work. These storylines often weren't great, but they at least propelled the show somewhere. Occasionally, Drama would be up for an interesting role, but anything with Turtle, his failed businesses, or his relationship with Jamie-Lynn Sigler? Forget about it.
Worst of all, every one of these storylines at some point distracted from Vince's journey as an actor and the show's central premise of making it alongside your buddies. In fact, as Entourage went on and Vince's storyline got more and more repetitive, there were times it felt like he faded into a background, overwhelmed by all the other subplots.
The Cameos Eventually Became A CrutchVideo: YouTube
There were a few genuinely surprising Entourage cameos which are still fun to revisit. For instance, did you know that Larry David made an appearance in Season 1? Or what about in Season 5 when Gus Van Sant and Martin Scorsese stopped by in the same episode? Some of these cameos were great and actually served the plot.
But while Entourage helped sell itself as an insiders' look at Hollywood through the use of famous guest stars, eventually the endless parade of cameos just started to feel like an unnecessary crutch. From the awkward (Kanye West's music is great, but he is not an actor) to the painful (the only thing worse than Brett Ratner is Brett Ratner playing himself.)
Sometimes, an actor like Seth Green would have an amusing arc, subverting their public persona. Occasionally, actresses like Mandy Moore and Sasha Grey would take a turn as one of Vince's love interests. But more often than not, an Entourage cameo meant someone like UFC's Chuck "the Iceman" Liddell facing off against Johnny Drama, which, just, why.