There is some dispute over where the original idea for Entourage came from. The show is loosely based on the career of Mark Wahlberg and his group of friends. Wahlberg served as executive producer on the show and was clearly an inspiration having come from a very rough background in Boston to Hollywood stardom. Vincent Chase and company were designed as a much lighter version of Wahlberg's entourage. The show was largely written by Doug Ellin, a New Yorker himself.
Ratings for Entourage were not as relevant being on subscriber network HBO but they were respectable enough to ensure eight seasons of between eight and fourteen episodes.
The half hour drama\comedy format owed a lot to the success of HBO's Sex and the City. The style was to film the action like a real life drama but to keep things light and comic. The formula was largely successful for the first three seasons.
The show had a lot to offer. The tension between friendship and business allowed Vince and Eric to carry light drama while Johnny's insecurities and Ari's anger provided solid comedy. The show was described as "lifestyle porn", a description which neatly summed up another appealing aspect for viewers. Of course there were gorgeous houses and women but also a constant array of celebrity guest appearances and the chance to see how the rich and famous live.
It had become clear by season three however that there was a lack of consequence to Vince's life. The drama always remained light and no scrape seemed to permanently endanger any member of the Entourage. The show admirably pushed through a storyline which largely covered seasons four and five where Vince's pet project "Medellin" almost destroyed his career.
However the dramatic height of the show was also the end of any possibility of taking it seriously. Vince's career was rescued, deus ex machine-style, by Martin Scorsese and that was the end of that. Season six made it clear that no actual further development was going to take place and seasons seven and eight saw dull wheel spinning as the story ground to a halt.
Entourage was one of many shows I raced to catch up on in 2008 when I realized that I was going to start thetvcritic.org. I always enjoyed the show as light entertainment. Without the need to be a full length drama or a laugh out loud comedy the show succeeded in keeping me interested right up to the end of season five.
The show never became more than it was though and I clearly overrated the end of season five while anticipating that actual consequences were on their way. The decline after that point was sad with no sense that there was much more story to tell. Season eight was painful and irritating as a thin story was stretched out to the very silly happy ending that everyone knew was coming.
As a completist I would like to go back and review the first three seasons at some point but that may be something that never happens.
In 2010 HBO aired How to Make it in America, another half hour light drama clearly influenced by Entourage's success.
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