Against 'Entourage'

Adam Sternburgh makes the case which, I think, is regrettably not very hard. He ends with this:

For awhile, we could convince ourselves it was because the show offered a reliable weekly dose of guilty escapism, with Ari's rants and cool cars and pretty scenery (much of it extraneously strolling by the camera in a G-string). Plus, we kept hoping that maybe, just maybe, Vince would get hooked on heroin, or Drama would die in a flaming crash, or E would get wise and write a tell-all, or Turtle would finally come out and run away with Lloyd. 

But now, on the eve of season seven, and with a full-length movie being threatened, we figured it's time to stop wishing for what Entourage isn't, and take a frank look at what it is: a not particularly funny, conflict-allergic show about a bunch of adolescent dudes with endless money and no problems and a foul-mouthed agent who, of late, has been improbably nice to his wife. We don't think this would make for a great movie. It's not making for a particularly great show. There is, however, a simple three-word solution: Ari spinoff. Inject it with a shot of Sweet Smell of Success sleaziness, send Drama careening off a cliff in the pilot, and maybe, just maybe, Ari Gold will be the show Entourage promised to be, but never was.

We talked about this some months ago, but it's become clear to me that it's best to think of Entourage as escapism for dudes who subscribe to lad mags, and take great interest in lists like  "The Top 100 Sexiest Women In The World." 

Speaking for the dudes, I think a lot of us are on board for a show revolving around cool cars, beautiful women, and copious amounts of weed. But there's an air of insecurity that pervades Entourage, and everything is just a little too easy. I think a good dude fantasy show needs to have some understanding of women. I was pretty much done after Vince slept with his new agent. I just didn't think they'd done the narrative work to make me believe that Carla Gugino's character (a tough-minded career woman) would risk her all the money she stood to gain from Vince's career to sleep with him. I just didn't buy it.

I was thinking about this when I went to see Iron Man a few weeks ago--so much of entertainment is escapism. I'm not against that. But I'd like to see the kind of escapism that I remember after I'm done--the kind I can't wait to get back to. Escapism isn't a synonym for "bad" or "cheap." It takes work to make people believe the fantasy. For my money, Justice League Unlimited is the best escapist art I've seen in a decade or so.

On another note, I think the "Sex and the City for guys" line about Entourage can be laid to rest. Whatever people think of the movie, nothing on that show comes close to Miranda and Steve in the early days.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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