HBO keeps sucking me in

TMC once told me his theory that none of the HBO shows are any good, that it's just a vast conspiracy to sucker people into subscribing and that, once subscribed, people then feel the need to justify the monthly subscription fee by pretending to be super satisfied by the programming.

How I wish this theory were true. I could think of lots of other things to do with $12 every month -- such as buy twelve $1 cans of PBR at the local watering hole. And yet I've become addicted to HBO's programming. First it was The Sopranos and Six Feet Under that roped me in; then came Curb Your Enthusiasm, and now Entourage.

I said in this space a while back that I was fine with Entourage being an enjoyable buddy comedy of sorts, but maybe I was wrong. Last Sunday's episode, probably the series' best so far, dipped its foot into a bit of the old pathos when uber-agent Ari Gold gets shitcanned by his boss, Mandi Moore kicks Vinny Chase to the curb, and everything in Entourage land seems to be on the verge of falling apart. The trick, though, was that they added emotional weight without stripping away the humor.

So we get to see Turtle trying not to cry during Brian's Song. We find out that Johnny Drama's explosion on the freeway earlier this season (in which he took a golf club to someone's car) made it onto an episode of Celebrity Justice. And even as Ari is in crisis mode, he's still ripping off his trademark zingers to the people who've betrayed him: "Just so you know, your girlfriend? Offered to blow me when she was working in the mail room. True story."

So anyway, there's only one more episode of Entourage, after which I thought I could finally give my HBO obsession a rest. But now comes the announcement that the new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm starts at the end of September. Damn those evil geniuses at HBO! As soon as I think I'm free, they suck me back in.


dave said...

That was a great episode of Entourage. One thing you missed: the sudden development of Lloyd, Ari's Assistant/Whipping Boy, as a real person.

All of the sudden, in that one little monologue, he's more than the funny little gay asian guy who Ari yells at (Lloyd!). I didn't need that -- I was, simple bastard that I am, pretty happy with Lloyd as a one-note little punchline for Ari. Lloyd! Seriously, there's something a little funny about that name, and there was something a lot funny about the way Lloyd scurried around all herky jerky and yet controlled whenever he was summoned, and Jeremy Piven is so great in that role that he could make me laugh out loud just by yelling that one word: Lloyd!

But I thought they did a nice job of pulling a little rabbit out of the hat there, where, all of the sudden, maybe there's actually one more character on this show. Lloyd! Lloyd the up-from-his-bootstraps, former cafeteria worker turned top five in his Stanford business school class who took the job with Ari not to be yelled at -- Lloyd! -- but with his eyes on the prize, who weathered the constant insults not because he is a scurrying little assistant, but because he understands the game and he's made a decision to attach his star to Ari's, and he will not allow the whole thing to go up in the flames of self pity.


There's also the "no commercials" theory to HBO's attraction, or as we call it in my house, "the only acceptable reason for the fact that Arliss lasted more than one month."

Lesley said...

Another thing that I like about Entourage besides all that you have mentioned is Turtle. Turtle has gone from the most annoying character to the least. I used to hate him to the point where I would start fast forwarding when he would start talking. Now he actually seems to be growing as a person which is so rare on TV.

Mike said...

I agree on both points. The Lloyd development is great; I especially like that he drives that souped-up car, which Ari referred to as a stunt car from the Fast and the Furious.

And Turtle is kind of the lovable loser of the show. Although, now that he's jumped into the ring as a producer for a rapper, I suppose Johnny Drama is the real loser of the family. Especially after getting fired for popping wood in his movie-of-the-week scene with Brooke Shields.

aaron said...

I only watched the first season before getting rid of HBO (and now that I've moved and have roommates again... I'm gettin' it back, baby! whoo!), isn't the real loser of the show E.? Isn't E. supposed to be the moral center of the show, the "real" main character? And have they done anything with him in the new season, besides uplifting the real-life actor from obscurity as a no-name of someone else's entourage to tabloid fodder as the beau of Nicky Hilton (you know, the skanky one.)

And who shortens their name from Eric to E.? Perhaps he is a space alien. Or maybe his real name is "Eie" and you can't tell that there's more letters attached, like the name "Jay."

I suspect maybe I'm right when Mike has a whole post on how the show is better and he doesn't mention "E." once...so the current manifestation of the show is perhaps better, but has drifted far from its moorings. If that's the case, then let's get rid of E and send him back to the Sbarros Pizza joint where he belongs.

Kistulentz said...

Of course, this is also the same network that gave us The Mind of the Married Man, which posited such brilliant thoughts as--married men can be 1. pigs, 2. decent, or 3. some combination thereof.

Also that married men might think about sleeping with their gorgeous 20-something assistant, if they were hectored by the constant haranguing of a strident wife.

Not funny. Not even particularly observant. And borderline misogynist.

Maybe a more appropriate thread would be discussing when these various HBO shows jumped the shark.