If entertainment is escape, the wildly entertaining Entourage is like a vacation. It is the story of a rising Hollywood star and his cast of close, loyal friends. Movie star Mark Wahlberg created HBO’s hit series based on his own travels with his entourage from Boston to Hollywood when he was a budding young actor.
The boys in the show are actually from New York City. Vincent Chase, played by Adrian Grenier, and his friend Turtle set off for Hollywood after Vinny’s brother, Johnny “Drama” Chase. Drama has had a long but unfruitful career in television and film before washing up. By the first episode, Vinny’s best friend — Eric “E,” played by Kevin Connolly — has arrived from his pizza-spinning job in New York and taken over as Vincent’s manager. E acts as the everyman of the show, the guy who doesn’t use his money on unnecessary trinkets and toys or use his fame to bed half the women in Hollywood. His rival is Ari Gold, Vincent’s high-powered agent who, despite his loyalty to Vinny, will always lie, cheat and steal to get one up on his enemies.
Ari and E frequently bicker, especially early on as E pushes Vincent to sign on for parts that can showcase his talent and be critically adored. On the other hand, Ari always has his eye on the bottom line, pushing Vinny to take roles in films that will score the biggest opening weekends and bring in the most money. Vincent is successful from both angles. Vince stars in the critic’s dream “Queen’s Boulevard,” directed by fictional wunderkind Billy Walsh. He makes the press go wild in the box office hit “Aquaman,” directed by the very real James Cameron.
Meanwhile, Turtle, played by up-and-coming Jerry Ferrara, signs rap artists to record deals, hits the hottest Hollywood parties and scores with the beautiful women Vincent’s fame affords him. E becomes a hotshot Hollywood manager with multiple successful clients. Always the comic relief, Johnny Drama stumbles from one failure to another — that is, until he lands a supporting role on the hit pilot “Five Towns” and becomes a Hollywood name again. If you haven’t noticed, good things happen to the good guys on Entourage.
The glamor of Entourage comes from the Vegas hotels, Hollywood clubs and front-row seats at U2 concerts. The characters golf with Tom Brady, date Jessica Alba and fly on Kanye’s G6. Entourage’s appeal is perhaps best illustrated by everyman E’s on-again, off-again relationship with outright beauty Sloan McQuewick — portrayed by Emmanuelle Chriqui. Why wouldn’t the audience love for the normal guy to hook up with the most gorgeous girl? It’s the plot for half the films in theaters.
Sloan’s father, Terrence — who looks nothing like Sloan — is Ari Gold’s boss at agency TMA in the beginning of the series. Terrence returns from retirement like Jordan, and from Ari’s perspective, he is like the Wizards-era Jordan. He then pushes Ari aside and eventually out, forcing the neurotic power agent to start and build up his own agency from boutique to juggernaut through much hilarity. Unfortunately, Ari’s own rise to superstardom is plagued by bad decisions and comes at the expense of his attention to Vincent’s career. Vincent is forced to fire Ari and move on to sexy power agent Amanda Daniels, portrayed by the beautiful Carla Gugino. Since Entourage is often vicarious fantasy, Vinny of course sleeps with his gorgeous new agent, and his relationships subsequently fall apart with both Amanda and E.
Vince, E and Ari start to work together again and begin to move towards fulfilling Vincent’s dream of playing drug kingpin Pablo Escobar in the film Medellin. Unfortunately, wunderkind Billy Walsh of Queen’s Boulevard fame has grown too big for his britches and, as Medellin’s director, turns the picture into an overworked, overwrought mess of a movie that opens to booing at Cannes Film Festival and goes direct-to-DVD. With such a stinker tied around his neck, Vince’s career goes down the drain as no one will hire him for anything substantial. Down on his luck, he moves back to New York City. Because this is the wonderful world of Entourage, Martin Scorsese calls him in the same episode. If you watch Entourage online, you can view multiple episodes at once and hardly have time to feel sorry for Vincent. It is outright perfect pleasure viewing.
Vince and the boys are consequently again bombarded with success. Vinny’s movies not only open to fanfare but also put him in amazingly cool situations such as portraying race car inventor Enzo Ferrari and working with the aforementioned Scorsese. Turtle earns a business degree and after a couple of failed ventures, he opens up a restaurant. Drama earns a starring role in a hit show on network television and a supporting role in a new movie with Vince. Eric finally ties the knot with Sloan, and the two seem ready to live happily ever after. Vince experiences love at first sight and of course gets the girl. Ari retires from the job that keeps him away from the things that matter and is content to spend more time with his family. In the end, everyone flies off into the sunset in, literally, a big ol’ jet. Entertainment is escape. Escape is Entourage.