State of the Half-Hour Comedy

This was gonna be a great weekend. As one of TV’s new darlings was ending its season, a long-time sweetheart was just starting to get back in the game. Summer programming- gotta love the feeling of your hot ass peeling off the couch as you get up to grab another citrusy brew.

No one does summer programming better than HBO’s Entourage. With its fast cars, gratuitous T&A, and lots of cursing and screaming, Entourage is the show tailor-made for summer audiences. Entourage popped up on HBO as the ultimate wet dream. One of “our guys” finally made it and he’s bringing us all along for the ride. It doesn’t get any better than that. And while it continues to do an admirable job as the carrot-on-a-stick fantasy for me to jerk off to, I was getting the feeling that the fantasy ride wasn’t going to last. As the seasons went on that mirage began to show us its warts. There’s something to be said of providing an audience with an escape, but at this point (seven seasons in) I’m starting to not give a fuck. And like your grandma always told you, “When you start not giving a fuck, then you’re just waiting to get fucked. In the ass.”

Entourage has grown lazy. Its jokes don’t pack any power behind its punches anymore and its plots have grown predictable and stagnant. I mean, how many more times can we see a scene like this again?

This guy called Vince a pussy. He directed The Notebook.

Seriously, what season could that scene have been from? Even the actors sound like they’re tired of reading the same shit. Of course, the haters have already had their field day with Entourage’s formula. And while I’ve never been known to not dropkick a dead horse, I’ll state the obvious- Entourage needs to grow up. I’ll give it time because I’ve been rooting for these guys since Day 1, but I won’t bet the house on them changing anytime before that rumored movie. Last season was one that I enjoyed. Its characters were finally embracing the world and opportunities around them, and it gave me hope. Hope that if given an opportunity there’d be something inside of us bros that would propel us to look at ourselves in the mirror and grow into men. I thought that Entourage would finally embrace that theme but instead we’re forced to see the same old schtick and left to wonder if the writers will ever learn. A lot can change for people in seven years’ time. Apparently not in the Hollywood Hills.

The gang doing what they do best - jack shit.

Of course, that’s not true. Also on this week was the season finale, and possible series finale, of Starz’s critically-acclaimed Party Down. This is a show that while built on a reliance on some familiar jokes, it has something that Entourage has been missing lately. Heart. (Warning: This clip does not properly reflect the comedic genius that is Party Down. Still funny to watch a grown woman cry though.)

There is something real and tangible to the comedy of Party Down and its crew of dream chasing wannabes. Even though they are all molded on archetypes that are familiar to anyone with the same wild dreams, rarely are character cut-outs given such hot lava to spew. Who says you can’t have some drama in your comedy?

At the core of both series, is the camaraderie between the crews. Everyone needs a support system and while Vince’s entourage may have been together since junior high, Party Down’s crew of actors, comedians, hard sci-fi writers, emo-rockers, and child star managers, need each other more than they can possibly imagine.

What made Party Down’s finale great TV was that there was real conflict. Just when you think you’re on the verge of making it, Hollywood’s cruel machine can take it out from under you without warning and it’s back to square one, a la Casey Klein and her big break.

Stakes. Real life stakes. And this is where Entourage continually drops the ball. Seven seasons in and we haven’t seen real failure yet. Vince had some bumps and bruises along the way but we know that, no matter what, Vince’ll bounce right back up. But sometimes the best comedy is when you’re shit out of luck and starving for lunch. That would be something I’d love to see on Entourage. Because in the end, it’d have to be Vince’s entourage that will pick him back up by his greasy curls and give him the hope to chase that impossible dream all over again.

Hope. It’s awesome.

Say Some Mean Shit

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