Tuned In

Checking In On: Entourage

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Michael Muller

HBO photo: Michael Muller

I don’t ask a lot of Entourage. I know that it will never be deep or groundbreaking or one of my favorite shows on television. I just expect it to amuse me and give me a break: to be a funny, reasonably Hollywood-savvy diversion. So call this faint praise if you want, but I’m glad to report that season 5 is meeting this modest goal again. 

After a season 4 that spent too much time in Medellin post-production limbo, it’s good to see Vince making a movie again. (Actually, again may be the wrong word; one thing that’s such a refreshing change about this season is that previous seasons pretty much skipped the movie-making part of movie-making altogether.) By taking away Vince’s career and making him work for it, the show has a central thrust again, and the Ari-Drama-etc. sideshows can remain just that. (Not every storyline has worked for me—Jamie-Lynn Sigler, for instance, turns out not to be a much better actress even when playing herself.)

I still have a problem that I’ve mentioned before: I’m not entirely sure if we’re supposed to think that Vince is a good actor at all, or if the movies he’s in are any good. Smoke Jumpers is supposed to be his Oscar shot, but like every other movie-within-Entourage, it seems more like a movie parody. But since Vince is trying to get his career back, that question has some dramatic tension behind it, even if Entourage isn’t actually trying to get me to ask it. 

Last night’s episode also reminded me of something Janeane Garofalo once said about acting on The Larry Sanders Show: there’s a hierarchical divide between those actors who are famous enough to play themselves on Entourage, and those who aren’t. Seth Green makes the cut; Gary Cole, sorry. Maybe that’s the perfect way to define stardom: could he/she play him/herself on Entourage or not?