We have a tendency to distill new television shows into log lines, one sentence summaries that encapsulate the plot, tone and hook of a work of art. Most times, log lines are reductive, inherently so, and fail to really explain the extent of what a respective TV show accomplishes. Other times, they're perfect.
For Ballers—whose log line is "It's Entourage but with sports"—this is one of those times. From the day the trailer for Dwayne Johnson's newest project, which premiered on HBO last night, dropped, it had the Entourage sticker slapped on it. Bros hanging with bros, fucking chicks, getting into bad situations that eventually resolve themselves—that was Entourage. Substitute "landing a James Cameron movie" with "get a contract extension with the Miami Dolphins," the thinking went, and you've got Ballers.
Though it was extremely easy to make this parallel, I did my best to ward it off until at least seeing a full episode of Ballers. Now that I have, well, turns out the presumption was pretty spot on. Shall we count the ways with a quick list? (SPOILER ALERT, in case you care.)
The Most Entourage Moments of the Ballers Premiere:
- A very hot, very naked girl appears on screen less than one minute into the premiere.
- A girl at a funeral flashes her underwear at The Rock while he's giving a eulogy.
- After said funeral, a character refers to a group of women as "funeral hoes." Considering the last bullet point, I guess this assessment isn't too crazy.
- One of the first things a character (Rob Corddry) says after we meet him is "snatch." And he doesn't mean another word for "grab."
- SO. MANY. CAMEOS! But instead of a bunch of actors showing up, understandably it's a bunch of football players—DeSean Jackson, Antonio Brown, Steven Jackson. Of the three, I think Antonio was probably the best at acting.
- When The Rock looks DeSean Jackson and Antonio Brown in the face, and then seriously explains to them how women are "depreciating assets." Other depreciating assets he alludes to: cars, boats, private jets.
- The first instance of club/bathroom sex occurs less than ten minutes into the premiere.
- Here's how the show introduces the football agent character, Jason: a client calls him and he answers, while having reverse cowgirl sex with a girl with very large fake boobs, who happens to be screaming, "Who's gonna win the LPGA?" By all accounts, this woman is not a professional golfer.
- Peter Berg appears on-screen, though not as Peter Berg.
- And yes, (mostly) everything works out by the time credits roll.
Just so we're clear, I don't mean for this to convey that Ballers is a bad show. It's not, really—it's more of the grandiose wish-fulfillment stuff that Entourage did so well for years. That's not always a bad thing. And The Rock is in this, so that alone makes it worthwhile.
Come back next week to see what other Entourage-y things Ballers can pull off.