It may be that we don't yet have enough perspective on the late television show Entourage to appreciate it as we should. Sometimes this is the way it works with great art -- film flops find second lives and new audiences, novelists and artists are rediscovered after careers in penurious anonymity, that sort of thing. So maybe that's what will happen with Entourage. Right now, the show certainly looks like the televisual equivalent of a pint glass of room-temp Muscle Milk. But time can change things.
It is, of course, much more likely that we're all pretty much right about it -- that Entourage was in fact an exquisitely detailed lite beer commercial that stubbornly refused to end; that it was indeed a fitting emblem for a dumb, decadent decade that somehow wasn't even fun, despite all those substances consumed and money spent; that it stands out mostly as proof that there is a boring answer to the not-so-classic question, "Why do awesome things happen to unappealing, one-dimensional people and then just continue happening for eight seasons, somehow, like to the point where even Turtle's freaking baked clams restaurant somehow works out?" But let's leave open the possibility that we're wrong, and that Entourage is in fact great entertainment -- a show that makes you laugh, makes you think and is as good as a baffling percentage of the NBA seemingly thinks it is.
This is a somewhat different thing than NBA players gravitating to Drake's Sad Sexts From The VIP Room raps, if only because Drake is actually a pretty good rapper and Entourage is a pair of $450 jeans with tequila-barf on the crotch that is somehow also a television show. Although it's similar in the apparent near-unanimity -- nothing like the epic, decades-spanning reverence for "Martin," but impressive all the same -- of the NBA's enthusiasm for this Ed Hardy burp of a program. Here, for instance, is Kevin Durant's response to the news that a long-planned Entourage movie -- presumably answering such questions as "Will things continue to go extremely well for these guys?" and "Even the little screaming bald sociopath guy who yells homophobic taunts at his personal assistant, things will work out well for him, too?" -- is apparently going forward.
Of course, Kevin Durant can watch whatever television he'd like to watch, even if it's four dudes in t-shirts lounging around an expensive house having a smirking non-argument about where they can get the right kind of weed, and then just, like, settling the argument and getting the weed at the end of the episode. It's Kevin Durant's life, and we don't need to watch television with him, which is good. But also, it's sort of the equivalent of finding out that one of the NBA's more universally well-regarded players listens to a lot of Hinder or has endorsed a new line of male body sprays marketed as "a more frankly skeevy alternative to Axe."
And Durant's passionate endorsement is not uncharacteristic! Amare Stoudemire was in the show, as were LeBron James, Chris Bosh -- in a hilariously advertorial cameo that flogged an actual tequila brand -- and enough other NBA players to make a viable five-man squad. There is no endorsement more binding than towering over Kevin Connolly and mumbling something about vodka or models, and these players have given that blessing. These cameos didn't add that much -- what kind of performance, exactly, were you expecting from Mark Cuban? -- but they offered glib, glossy proof of the show's glib, glossy credibility.
By the middle of the show's run, these cameos were also the source of many episodes' dramatic tension -- how would Lamar Odom insult Johnny Drama or whatever? The bigger stuff was, of course, never ever in doubt -- everything would work out fine, the bros would ride again, shots all around and so on forever. This is the thing that contrarians will rediscover in the show, if it's ever rediscovered. They will see it as a document of a horny and viciously mis-prioritized era that works as a remorseless, punishing mirror, reflecting the chuckling dunderheaded atavism of the era back at itself, and the viewer. Or something. It will take decades, but they'll figure something out.
But it may be that Durant and Entourage's other NBA fans have discovered some narrow pleasure in the show that's unavailable to those of us shorter, less famous, less wealthy and, blessedly, less likely ever to meet An Ari Gold Type. As they have with Drake, NBA players may well have found a uniquely non-vicarious pleasure in Entourage -- a sort of recognition or reflection of their own experience as fabulously rich and famous people, leavened by the assurance that somehow every episode will end with our four dudes high-fiving in front of the Hollywood sign, triumphant.
As Entourage dragged on, all that glossy impunity and relentless wish-fulfillment -- the show stuffed vicarious triumph down the audience's watch-holes like butter down a foie gras goose's gizzard -- somehow made things even more claustrophobic and false. Here was a show powered by the bleakly passionate materialism of a television commercial, and with about as much dramatic tension of a television commercial. There was no conscious satire in the show -- everyone being a scheming a-hole doesn't count -- but there was a backhanded self-satire in the way Entourage took itself apart by making being rich and invincible look so terribly dull.
Or, at least, made it look that way to those of us who never saw much in it. But maybe, in the end, NBA players get the same thing out of Entourage that the show's dead-ender bro-loyalists do -- simple escapism, easy and glossy and risk-less and low-stakes and with lots of pretty girls pacing the background in bikinis. This show could be their lives, give or take, only a version of their lives without consequence or the remotest risk of failure. With the NBA season now an actual thing, the promise of a happy ending is no longer a certainty for America's tallest and maybe truest Entourage fans. If there's such a thing as a good reason to watch Entourage, maybe that's it.