What exactly is Ballers supposed to be?

Herodotus told us to call no man happy until he is dead. The same is true of television: no series, no season, no episode can be called good until it is over. All endings matter. And it is for this reason that the first episode of HBO’s Ballers is good, while the subsequent two are bad.

The three things that you need to know before you keep reading are a) Ballers is the new Entourage, b) I do not like Entourage, but c) I kinda like Ballers.

Point A is not debatable. Everyone agrees that it is the new Entourage. To be more specific, it’s the “Entourage of the NFL,” and remember that Entourage was always “Sex and the City for men.” Which makes Ballers the “(Sex and the City for men) of the NFL.” (Sex and the City, if you cannot remember it, was the Girls of the late ’90s and early oughts.)

Regarding my dislike for Entourage: I have only seen two episodes. The first two. There was not a single moment during those first two during which I thought to myself that I should continue watching. I gave it two, rather than one, out of a sense of fairness,and because I’d finished The Wire and needed something else to watch. The second episode of Entourage is the worst episode of television that I can recall finishing. It’s a terrible way to spend thirty minutes. I would rather spend thirty minutes on an episode of Duck Dynasty or the first ninety pages of a Dan Brown novel.

Anything with this many smiles = boring.
Anything with this many smiles = boring.

The reason that Entourage is so bad is that it is nothing but watching good things happen to bad people. (I am aware enough of Entourage to know that, yes, the show continues within the mold of bad people, good things, throughout its run).  There is nothing more boring than a television show in which the characters continually get what they want. But enough about Entourage. Let’s discuss the trouble with Ballers. Continue reading “What exactly is Ballers supposed to be?”


Why Silicon Valley’s Approach to the Bechdel Test is Brilliant

We all know what the Bechdel Test is.  Or, if you don’t, it’s that rule, invented by Alison Bechdel in her comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For, about fiction which describes whether or not a work approaches gender in an appropriate way. Among the many works that fail the test are Star Wars (not a single film in the series passes it so far), The Lord of the Rings, almost anything involving Batman, and roughly 90% of other popular movies, television shows, novels, comic books, etc.

The first sighting of the test.
The first sighting of the test.

The test is simple.  First, does the work contain more than one female character?  Second, if there are two female characters, do they have a conversation?  And finally, is their conversation about something, anything, other than a man?

It’s worth discussing this in relation to Silicon Valley, the HBO series whose second season concluded a week ago.  The first season of Silicon Valley completely fails to pass this test.  At no point do two female characters interact. Continue reading “Why Silicon Valley’s Approach to the Bechdel Test is Brilliant”