Term Paper Proposal

In my term paper, I would like to apply the issues that we have discussed in class to a series missing from the syllabus: HBO’s “Entourage.” A case study of “Entourage” spins a web of questions related to television authorship. I realize that I must eventually narrow my focus, but I have outlined my brainstorming below.

The focus of “Entourage” shifts drastically from season to season, perhaps due, in part, to creative myopia, or poor long-term storyboarding. How has the series repeatedly driven itself into narrative dead-ends, and how has it gone about making U-turns?

Though Vince is ostensibly the protagonist, his character undeniably lacks substance, and he boasts less screen time than some of his companions. He is certainly the catalyst for the principal storyline, but toward whom is the focus of the series truly directed? Taking a step back, is there even one central character, or does the spotlight move from one character to another (more conspicuously than in typical TV series)?

Is “Entourage” more concerned with dishing out sheer, unbridled entertainment than constructing a dramatic arc? Does it prove even more formulaic than other comedic series?

With its surfeit of wisecracks about specific individuals in the entertainment industry aimed at Hollywood insiders, promise to display the trendiest Hollywood hot spots by dint of on-location filming, and episodic self-mocking celebrity cameos, among other features, is “Entourage” entirely self-indulgent or self-satisfying? Does it cater more to the folks inside of the Hollywood bubble than the general public?

In a variety of respects, “Entourage” can be viewed as a paradigm of HBO’s daringness. How does the series’ blatant upheaval of propriety—as defined by gratuitous profanity, risqué illustrations of sexuality, etc.—shape and reflect the network’s style?

While many celebrities appear in short stints on “Entourage” as caricatures of their public personas, others play fictional, and sometimes recurring, roles. A near reverse situation is Jeremy Piven’s portrayal of Ari Gold, a character admittedly loosely based on the infamous talent agent—and brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel—Ari Emanuel. (Here, rather than a celebrity portraying a fictional character, a fictional character resembles a real-life figure.) Additionally, while actual films and TV series are referenced in “Entourage,” the program also presents fictional media. What factors motivate these independent decisions, which, combined, comprise a strange blend of reality and fiction?

The debate surrounding the series’ inspiration begs the question of auteur theory. While it is widely accepted that Vince and the gang are based on a young Mark Wahlberg and his circle of friends, different reports credit different individuals as conceiving the series.

How accurately does “Entourage” represent Mark Wahlberg’s arrival in Hollywood and the personalities who serve as his wingmen? How early in production and in what manners do plotlines begin to diverge from Wahlberg’s own experiences? Forgetting the connection between “Entourage” and Wahlberg, how realistic is the series’ depiction of Hollywood in general?

“Entourage” has been accused of producing humor at the expense of certain communities, such as women and homosexuals, many of which are underrepresented or devalued. Still, for the most part, its creative team has managed to avoid rebuke and continue operating by arguably offensive methods, unscathed. Is “Entourage” an “equal-opportunity offender,” or does it in fact target specific groups? Does its content shed light on the hypocrisy of Hollywood liberalism? Does the series’ reflexive nature (it provides commentary on the very types of professionals who give it life) grant it immunity from reproach?

Finally, one looming question remains: has “Entourage” outstayed its welcome?

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