Come Back, Evil Ari
Am I the only one who laments the domestication, en-nicening, and sweetification of Ari Gold on Entourage? He’s become like the character Fish (“Bygones…”) on Ally McBeal: once thrillingly sociopathic, eventually “humanized” and defanged. In a word, who needs it?
The first season or two Jeremy Piven and the writers thrilled us with Gold’s brash rudeness and rude brashness. How well I recall a scene where someone at the office–perhaps Ari’s abused-wife assistant, Lloyd–tried to tell him something as he strode toward the door. “Do I look like I’m still here?” Gold snarled. It was funny because it was true, although it wasn’t true, of course, but still, it was funny.
Now Ari seems to crave the love of “Vinnie and the boys.” He makes nice with Lloyd. He still flashes the jut-jawed, fuck-you, you-know-you-need-me grin, but underneath it all he cares. And who cares if he cares?
Everyone knows that Entourage became a hit because of that character and Piven’s bracing commitment to unrepentant obnoxiousness. Oh, sure, the character of Walsh, the director, is himself a repellent asshole. But it’s not the same. Walsh is a character you dislike. Ari Gold was a character you loved to hate. I don’t mind him being shut down and cowed by his no-nonsense wife, since that is domestic, and there are children and everything. Besides, it’s satisfying to see the egotistical (old phone greeting: “You got Gold!”) boor Ari gelded by the woman you know he chose to do exactly that.
But only when it’s in contrast to the maniac at the office, on the phone, at the meetings, in Cannes, and on the private planes. Come back, Evil Ari! All is forgiven. Just don’t change.