Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Tale of Two Cities

One might think HBO's Entourage would be a no-brainer for this site, but I have to admit I enjoy the show and don't have a problem with it as far as Los Angeles stereotypes go. It always seemed their writers weren't making those broad characterizations about our city that are found so often in media, but instead focus tightly on one highly specific subset of Hollywood denizen. If you want to call a bunch of shallow industry social climbers "shallow industry social climbers," fine by me, as long as you don't generalize it to the rest of us.

However, that was until this season's finale based in their hometown of Queens (where the show's apparently relocating for next season), meaning they've now set up an East Coast/West Coast duality. And you know what that means in TV: the return of the East Coast Realness cliche. This one's kind of an anomaly, too. Usually East Coast Realness is perpetuated by New York based shows making a two- or three-episode arc to a hyper-glossy superficial Hollywood, but it's not often that you get one going West to East.

But this episode sets it up from scene one, in which Vincent fools around with an attractive female attorney in a New York nightclub. "In LA, you could only get an actress or a hooker to do that," says his brother, Johnny. "God, I love this motherfucking town!" That's right, Johnny -- there are no sexual women at all in Los Angeles other than those paid for their attractiveness. Good thing you're back on the East Coast. You'll never meet an actress or hooker out there!

Just to play up the distinction a little further, after that first scene the boys, who whiled away nearly every L.A. episode in trendy, glossy Paris Hilton-type clubs, suddenly eschew the high-end lifestyle to hang in a grungy neighborhood pool hall in Queens. How serious are they about this transition? Johnny purchases the dive and marks it as their territory by even naming it after himself.

You know things are bad when even the cinematography is stereotyping. Check out these scenes of the guys getting out of their taxicab in Queens:

See the earthy sepia tones permeating the houses, the street, the guys and even the clouds? Salt of the earth. Now check out another car on the street, this one belonging to Ari back in LA:

My eyes! The pure white of the buildings, redness of the sportscar and even the staggeringly bluer sky all connote bright shiny things. You know, like bright, shiny, Los Angeles. I've seen Adrien Grenier at cool indie rock shows around town, too, like of Montreal and Ratatat, both times in the decidedly earth-toned and unshiny Troubadour. Can't he do something about this?

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