The ''Entourage'' cast

The ”Entourage” cast made our 2005 Entertainers of the Year list

Romance? It’s overrated. And highly predictable. Even life-threatening. Romeo should have ditched Juliet and stuck with Mercutio. You want to talk about love? Stick with friends. For some reason, HBO gets this in spades. Carrie Bradshaw and her pals, Tony Soprano and his goombahs, Rome‘s Pullo and Lucius Vorenus, the various c—suckers of Deadwood — among them you’ll find the best love stories on TV, more surprising and touching than any sex-based hooey. Consider Entourage. While it excels at skewering Hollywood’s narcissistic powermongering (see the supersize-me bat mitzvah planned by Ari Gold — played with superlative sleaze by Jeremy Piven) and features TV’s most inspired cameos (we now forgive James Cameron all his excesses), season 2 enhanced the show’s greatest strength, the relationships between the four mooks from Queens who make up this entourage: Vince (Adrian Grenier), the up-and-coming actor who will be Aquaman, and his constellation of horndog cheerleaders, Eric (Kevin Connolly), brother Johnny ”Drama” (Kevin Dillon), and Turtle (Jerry Ferrara).

”From minute one I’ve tried to tell people it’s not a Hollywood show,” says creator Doug Ellin. ”That’s what everyone talks about. But for me it’s closer to Diner than to The Player. These guys care about each other more than money or fame or anything else.” It’s the kind of love that can only be spoiled by, well, a girlfriend. When Vince finally fell in love, with Mandy Moore (expertly played by Mandy Moore), we — like his pals — were begging for a breakup.

”I got so much flak for Mandy from all my friends,” admits Ellin. ”They said, ‘What are you, crazy? Sticking Vince with one woman?”’ It’s hard to believe that we’re condoning rampant womanizing, but when it leads to the comic sublimity of, say, a visit to the Playboy Mansion, then bam! we’re all over it. Leave the tenderness where it belongs: at sunset, overlooking the infinity pool at Vince’s Malibu spread, as the four sit down to one of Drama’s home-cooked meals. Their lives will never be better than this, and TV viewing doesn’t get much better either.