Clad in milquetoast shirtsleeves, combat-style Bermudas, and the unshowered film of day-old hangovers, the young men go about their Hollywood business with the same haughty unconcern that pervades their overslept lives. These are the new crusaders of cool. They are perpetually late to meet with representation, to accept graft, to sign hedge-fund-sized checks, and to slip into bed with stargazing young actresses. They are late to everything except success, their laissez-faire nonchalance a testament to the fuck-off patois of a generation. These insolent pop pilgrims provide a window into the machismo-fueled fantasy world of meteoric laziness. They are a scruffy gaggle of would-be pizza boys reluctantly poised to plant their half-finished Betsy Ross into the terra firma of the aught decade.
Vincent Chase pulses at the center of this universe of unemployed lifeguards and community-college dropouts. He gleams, he sparkles, he is positively radiant in his effortless, Kesey-like gravitation, as if Newton himself had been roped in by the perfumed and glossy pages of Us Weekly and agreed, with a bewitched look in his eye, to suspend the laws of physics for the glorious Vinny. Three landlocked roadies and an insufferable agent are left to orbit his weighty core of self-satisfied apathy, settling for the detritus let loose from his atmosphere.
Though we are told that Vince acts with great skill, we never see it. And this is the point. Any sweat or strain is kept from view because we are witnessing the nascent American aristocracy rear its unshorn and expensively sunglassed head. In Collegetown, USA, toga-sporting frat boys are upside down with the expectation that the life of pizza boxes and keg shells will buoy them to a world of fantastic riches and effortless sex, a world where fame will importune their passed-out and Cybexed frames without the slightest implication of real work.
If Vince does little work, his hangers-on do even less. The leprechaun Eric acts surly and taciturn, occasionally employing his eighth-grade-level reading skills to riffle through a script. And for this he commands a large salary and a Maserati, while enjoying the trappings of a boon companionship with the biggest light in Hollywood. The Turtle is offended by this insinuation. The Turtle is heated, he is snapping. Mistakenly inquire into his duties as a Vincent groupie and the Turtle will come out of his shell. Though I respect the color coordination of his outfits, he avoids the intellectual urbanity of a white suit. Many youngsters hope to fill the Turtle’s custom-designed Air Chubby Bunnies: making breakfast, riding in limousines, and staying out of the way, all with a well-cultivated air of celebrity entitlement. This is what the monolith of cathode-ray tubes is preaching from the pulpit. This is our future.
But there is hope in this moxie wasteland of moviemakers. Johnny Drama draws not my ire. Here is the bravado-laden torch of the past, its fire fueled by protein shakes and casting off the nearly forgotten aroma of desire. His ginseng-toned body twisting and gyrating with anxiety and self-doubt, he’s a New Age Neal Cassady, passed up here for a Lifetime movie, there for a Hallmark Channel special—the Houghton Mifflin and HarperCollins of the television world. Johnny Drama is no mere muzzled bus driver, however. He is a symbol of irony, that word now recognized only by the literati. Played by Kevin Dillon, Sancho Panza to real-life brother Matt, this role oozes the true Hollywood pathos of silver-screen heartbreak. If watch Entourage you must, then watch it for Drama.