Before we all get carried away turning Jeremy Piven into the breakout asshole of Entourage and suddenly “Hug it out, bitch” is a disturbing new catch phrase on playgrounds, let us take a moment and praise Kevin Dillon, to my mind the real gem in a show that’s come into its own this season. As movie star Vincent Chase’s older yet not-so-wiser brother, Drama, a forgotten actor of meager credits (he was once the star of something called Viking Quest), he has a charmingly warped sense of Hollywood advancement: Hearing that a recent road-rage incident with a golf club appeared on Celebrity Justice, he perks up with “That was on C.J.? Sweet!”
Dillon mines a comedy of has-been aggrievedness that is funny without ever feeling mean. While Piven’s invective-spewing agent Ari endures a career-crippling jugular cut from his own company, a situation the show treats as semiserious, Dillon spins his deluded hanger-on’s every crazy embarrassment — disappointing Viking Quest freaks at Comi-Con, worrying about how his calves look, getting an ill-timed erection filming a chaste hug with Brooke Shields — into sweet, weirdly affecting gold. I almost don’t want to know if any of this performance’s humor comes from Dillon’s own career hustling in the shadow of brother Matt. We may live in a reality-TV age, but thank God we have Drama instead of, oh, I don’t know, Being Kevin Dillon.