Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Drama King

I want to talk for a minute about Entourage. This year hadn't really caught fire for me yet, but that's not unusual. Entourage has the luxury of a devoted viewership, so they can afford to have a few building-block episodes to set things up for the chaos of the rest of the season. Usually, I get a few more laughs from those early episodes, but it was still pleasant enough so I've been watching. Things took off this week for both Drama and Turtle. Though they're the supporting players to the supposed main draw of Vince and Eric, Drama and Turtle have definitely managed to steal the show outright over the past couple years. This could possibly be because Vince and Eric have hit a career point where they're at least safe. They may suffer aggravations or setbacks, but they're never really on the brink of disaster.

But Turtle is still trying to make his own way in the city, and he's still struggling mightily. This season is no exception, and just when he thinks he's making up ground, the bomb gets dropped that they're using him to get to Vince.

Meanwhile, it's no secret that I love Johnny Drama.

I think Kevin Dillon does a spectacular job playing him, too. Drama's an easy target, and he's suffered plenty of humiliation for laughs. At first glance, he comes off as an over-the-hill, preening, pompous fuck who's leaching off his brother. But Dillon is great at showing us the tiniest of cracks in his hard, self-loving veneer, giving us the insight that he's actually terrified of being a washed-up, arrogant sycophant. His constant humiliations are what represent the toughness of the Hollywood business, what can be so soul-crushing about it, to constantly be judged and deemed not good enough. But he's a scrapper, and he's intent, if not obsessed, with getting one more shot. It looked like he had secured his place with a hit network show, but in true Drama fashion, he went and fucked it all up.

But it's not like he trashed his good fortune for no reason. One of Drama's most endearing traits is his willingness to immolate himself for his family. In past seasons, no matter what was going on with him, he'd drop everything in a wink to help his baby bro. This past season, it was in defense of Turtle and Turtle's girlfriend that he effectively ambushed himself and destroyed what could've been his final shot at "success."

This year, he's got a producer in his corner, (the always awesome William Fitchner as Phil) and this guy has managed to produce the impossible: and Emmy-winning writer has written a script FOR Drama, and Phil has also gotten John Stamos involved, therefore securing network interest. The only hitch is that Drama now has to impress Stamos.

I love it when Entourage convinces stars to come on and play themselves as somewhat assholes, and they didn't disappoint with Stamos. During his supposed meeting with Drama, Stamos breezes past him, calling him "Jimmy" and sucking up to Vince. Vince eventually gracefully turns the attention back to Drama by having them play a game of ping pong. And that's when the Drama disaster begins. Drama kicks Stamos's ass. Stamos steams. Producer Phil freaks on Drama and tells him the sitcom is dead unless Drama manages to suck his way back into Stamos's good graces. It's a classic Drama scenario. Does Drama really have to back down and let Stamos publicly beat him to secure a job? Stamos cockily proposes the opposite. If Drama manages to beat Stamos again, Stamos will do his shitty tv show. This spells bad news for Drama all around. It made me squirm for him.

But, that's the beauty of where Doug Ellin has come with Drama. He used to be a punchline with his humiliation. But over the years, Ellin has taken him to heart with his fierce desires and unswerving loyalty and therefore has somehow elevated him to a sort of working-class hero for Hollywood. So when the game comes down, Drama of course loses, and then he takes it like a true gentleman. Stamos, of course, feels vindicated and agrees to do John's show now. YAY, Johnny Drama! And, of course, as Vince tries to console Johnny about losing in front of a huge crowd, Drama shrugs it off and says, "I threw the game." And we know he did. And we're really proud of him for doing it.

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