HBO’s “Entourage” Ends on a High.

Entourage came to an end this year with its eighth and final series. The show revolves around up and com­ing Hol­ly­wood heart-throb Vince and his mot­ley crew. There’s his best friend and man­ag­er E, his less suc­cess­ful actor broth­er Dra­ma (played by Kevin Dil­lon, the less suc­cess­ful actor broth­er of Matt), his friend and gofer Tur­tle, and his agent Ari, and his wife, assis­tant and var­i­ous love interests.

It’s Mark Wahlberg’s baby, and all of the char­ac­ters are based unashamed­ly and far from loose­ly on his own real life cast of char­ac­ters. It could eas­i­ly have been insuf­fer­able, like watch­ing one of those nev­er-end­ing in-jokes that Sina­tra and his rat pack used to make in Las Vegas and release as a movie. As with drugs, fun to do, oh so tedious to watch.

But thanks to its clever plot­ting, gen­tle ban­ter and pitch-per­fect per­for­mances it man­aged instead to be irre­press­ibly effer­ves­cent. Basi­cal­ly 30 Rock for boys, it was impos­si­ble not to be charmed. Or at least it was for its first few series’.

Amer­i­can TV series are writ­ten in the spir­it of un-dilut­ed cap­i­tal­ism. Once a show has got beyond its pilot and grad­u­at­ed into its first and sec­ond series, its num­bers are relent­less­ly poured over. And the writ­ers are called back in and told which of their sto­ry­lines have and have not worked, and which ele­ments of the show need to be dialed up and which ones qui­et­ly shelved. 

So that fre­quent­ly, lat­er episodes in a series have been com­plete­ly re-imag­ined in response to how the audi­ence react­ed to the dif­fer­ent sto­ry­lines in the first few episodes. 

Unsur­pris­ing­ly, this can some­times be dis­as­trous. Series 2 of Twin Peaks, and much of the lat­ter half of Lost being obvi­ous exam­ples. But here it has to be admit­ted the sys­tem has unde­ni­ably worked. 

What had been so endear­ing about the troupe ini­tial­ly was that, despite all the out­ward appear­ances of liv­ing the wet dream in an end­less reel of unin­hib­it­ed debauch­ery and unre­strained hedo­nism, all of their lives sucked. Every one of their rela­tion­ships was a com­plete disaster.

But by the time we get to series 5, and espe­cial­ly 6 and 7, they have each become so gar­ish­ly suc­cess­ful, that every­thing else about their lives has been drowned out. You’d have episodes in which one char­ac­ter gives the oth­er a Maserati, and then lat­er they race one anoth­er at the traf­fic lights.

Nobody minds see­ing suc­cess, in fact we love watch­ing pret­ty young things liv­ing the dream, so long as they are all pro­found­ly and vis­i­bly unhap­py. Thank­ful­ly, the home­work was done, and the writ­ers duly respond­ed. And accord­ing­ly, come series 8 absolute­ly every­thing is going wrong for each and every one of them, and in every con­ceiv­able way. It’s great.

There’s talk at the moment of a movie fol­low-up. Let’s hope they hur­ry up and script it. They’re back on a roll.

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