"Race, Class, And The Greatness Of Lloyd On ‘Entourage’"
Commenter Carolyn tells me I should keep in mind that “Yes, their lifestyles can be mundane and shallow, but let’s not forget how it started. They left their lives in Queens, NY in order to help Vince become an actor in LA.”
I actually think the show would be a lot more interesting if it was a bit more directly about what it’s like to be not just upwardly mobile but explosively upwardly mobile. There are bits and pieces of their past in there: Vince saying he doesn’t need the toys he has but acknowledging that he likes them and would prefer not to live without them; the constant teasing about whether Eric’s community college experience is worth anything, particularly in comparison to Ari’s Ivy League education; the juxtaposition between Vince and Drama’s mother at home in Queens and her son calling from a radio studio in California to ask her to come to his premiere; Drama’s anxiety as he sees old colleagues working in catering, Party Down from a different perspective. But none of it’s exceptionally well-developed.
Ta-Nehisi wrote, about the main characters’ sexual conquests, that “It’s just that my fantasies don’t usually involve scooping the crumbs off the table from my better looking friends–or having a group of loser friends who would do the same with me. It’s really a buzzkill for the whole “hunter” aspect of male mythology. Indeed it replaces the ‘hunter,’ with the ‘moocher.’ If we’re talking about realism, and not fantasy, then I can get with that. But we aren’t, so I can’t.” But I feel like this is also true of the show’s depiction of upward mobility. Is it really that compelling to float along than to be demonstrably excellent, to have things come easy because you’re skillful not because you’re mooching? Maybe I’m a workaholic, and maybe this would be fun for a year, but it doesn’t seem like much of a fantasy for a life. It’s not as if the core characters escaped some sort of life of toil or crushing poverty. They might have been working-class, but it doesn’t seem like any of them every went dramatically without, and the characters are too young to have their present indolence be a reward for years of misery and debt. This isn’t retirement.
So it’s no mistake, now that I’m in the third season, that my favorite character is Lloyd, whose pep talk to Ari immediately after his boss’s epic defenestration is the single most meaningful thing in the entire show:
I’ve worked 18 hours a day to save up the money to put myself through Stanford Business School. While I was there, I cleaned the cafeteria during the hours I wasn’t studying and still graduated top of my class, only to take a job delivering mail to unappreciative overpaid little cocksuckers. And I finally get the big promotion that would allow me to answer your phones and be both racially and sexually harassed for the next nine months. But I know the end game. And you, Ari God, you are it. So stop your fucking whining…and figure out how you’re going to make both of our lives happen tomorrow.
Lloyd’s compromises are the most interesting thing in Entourage right now, his willingness to trade Ari’s insults based on the fact that he’s Asian and gay for apologies afterwards and the opportunity to continue to rise up in the world, to get to another kind of 18-hour days, and as far away from those cafeterias as possible. That scene hints at lost possibilities. Poor gay Asian guys deserve their fantasies, their dreams of glory, just as much as straight, white, and profligate ones do.