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The Underrated Hollywood Dramedy You Can Find On HBO Max

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Writers are often given the advice to write what they know. Sometimes, that can apply loosely, such as in the case of a series like Game of Thrones. Author George R.R. Martin may be inventing fantastical nations and monsters wholesale, but he's doing so while taking inspiration from past fantasy works and world history alike — effectively bringing specialized knowledge from his everyday life into even a work of pure fantasy. Other times, that advice can be applied literally. While HBO's Insecure, for example, may be fictional and not explicitly autobiographical, the series and its lead character Issa Dee nevertheless mirror certain details of series creator Issa Rae's life.

Fellow HBO series Entourage falls into the latter category. Entourage follows the burgeoning Hollywood career of up-and-coming actor Vincent "Vinnie" Chase. Vinnie is an entirely fictional creation, but the real-life experiences of executive producer Mark Wahlberg served as the inspiration for the character's rise to stardom. Entourage aired concurrently with the likes of The Sopranos and The Wire, so it falls under a considerable shadow cast by some of the all-time greatest series to ever air on television. The series currently holds a middling 66 percent critical score and a solid 83 percent viewer score on Rotten Tomatoes, reflective of a series burdened by critical expectations that nevertheless found its audience. 

Those who missed out on Entourage the first time around can stream the underrated show now on HBO Max.

It takes an Entourage to raise a star

Entourage draws its name from the literal entourage that surrounds Vinnie Chase (Adrian Grenier) and rounds out the series' central cast. The titular group includes manager Eric Murphy, aka E (Kevin Connolly); Vinnie's brother and fellow actor Johnny, aka Drama (Kevin Dillon); and their driver Turtle (Jerry Ferrara), who's actually called Salvatore, though that name is virtually never spoken.

Together, they all grew up in Queens, New York, forming a childhood bond that persists into their adult lives as they support Vinnie's acting career. Also integral to the series is Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven), Vinnie's agent. He's not technically part of the Entourage, but numerous Golden Globe and Emmy nominations ensured the fan-favorite character remained a constant presence, especially into the series' later seasons.

Tonally, Entourage shifts between a roughly equal number of comedic and dramatic moments. Oftentimes its comedy is derived from real-life celebrities appearing as themselves but behaving in unexpected ways. Bob Saget, for example, plays a vulgar and standoffish version of himself, essentially the polar opposite of his career-defining turn as Danny Tanner in Full House. Other times, the series' attempts at humor are stuck firmly in a bygone era, like frequent jokes Ari Gold makes at the expense of his assistant Lloyd's (Rex Lee) sexuality.

Those and other, similar moments might understandably be a dealbreaker for some. Viewers willing to put a fair amount of questionable content aside can still find in Entourage a fun and lighthearted exploration — that's equal parts glamorization and satirization — of the life of a burgeoning Hollywood star.

Entourage is available to stream on HBO Max now.