“Entourage” Season Eight: The Lost Boys
Dear God, it takes a lot of willpower to write anything about "Entourage." After Sunday's premiere of the eighth and final season, what is there possibly to say about Hollywood's ode to its narcissistic self other than, "Meh"? It's not so much impressive as it is discouraging that the HBO comedy lasted this long. "Entourage" has had its moments --mostly provided by Jeremy Piven as agent Ari Gold -- but even he couldn't muster enough believability for the latest episode, "Home Sweet Home." He and his boys coasted as they never have before, offering even flatter versions of their characters dealing with the "dramas" of breakups, addictions, and movie deals that will soon be resolved and celebrated with a bounty of booze and easy women. Because that's what the show is: easy.
The writers tried to bring consequences into the fold in Season Seven, when Vince (Adrian Grenier), injured from performing his own stunts filming a Nick Cassavetes movie, turns to alcohol, cocaine and the porn star Sasha Grey to dull his pain. Neither Drama (Kevin Dillon), Turtle (Jerry Ferrara), Eric (Kevin Connolly), Ari or newish guy Scott (Scott Caan) can settle him down. Vince ends up in a fight and gets busted for cocaine possession, and Season Eight begins with him leaving his three-month stint in rehab a clean and clarity-loving man. Not all of his boys are doing as well. Ari is separated from his wife (Perrey Reeves), who drops the bomb that she's seeing someone else. Eric and Sloan (Emmanuelle Chriqui) broke off their engagement, I believe over Eric's refusal to sign a prenup, but at least he and business partner Scott have taken over their management agency. Turtle and Drama have found success, however, with a tequila company and a new TV show, respectively. But as Vince comes home, he learns that they all, including Scott, have moved into his house. They either have nowhere else to go or just don't want to be left out. They're lost.
They also are busy trying to keep Vince sober, throwing a dry party filled with girls collected by Billy Walsh (Rhys Coiro) from various AA and NA meetings, and here the dialogue and delivery hit a new low. In fact, its contrived nature reminded me that I've stuck with the show for so long because of its occasional humor -- again, mostly coming from Piven chewing the scenery. And some of the best moments have come when celebrities play along and make fun of their selves, such as when Matt Damon made several guest spots on Season Six. "Entourage" can be fun, and not much more.
Doing his duty to dispose of the remaining drugs in the house, Turtle smokes a joint in a back room during the party but, in a hurry, throws it away without putting it out. Up in flames goes the Hollywood Hills mansion, and now the six boys are without a home. They'll of course find a new place and new ways to have fun. Connolly said recently at the show's premiere party that while Season Seven was a bit "dark," this final season focuses on the "fun." Surely viewers will tune in just to see what happens, though doubtfully the "what" will include the gang growing up. But that doesn't mean we care.
We know Grenier is wistful about the final season, as he tweeted June 15: "9 final days left to shoot in season 8, & the entire Entourage series -- end of an era; a generation in mourning." He and his co-stars are understandably attached to the show, but are viewers? "Entourage" is the show one watches because it's on. It's light, relatively painless and very quickly over. How can we be attached to the story of a bland celebrity, played by a bland celebrity, who generally breezes past the struggles us reality-dwellers encounter? We aren't attached, yet somehow, we aren't always turned off. And that's the greatest feat of all: Hollywood made a self-fulfilling show about Hollywood knowing viewers will watch because, well, it's about Hollywood. Perhaps "Entourage" is more realistic than we thought.
Sarah Carlson has a front-row seat to the decline of the newspaper industry and lives in Alabama with her overly excitable Pembroke Welsh Corgi.
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