Ari Gold: A Guide to Being a Good Businessman

HBO’s hit show, Entourage, is a “staple on college campuses”, as students idolize the lives of the rich and powerful.  Some envy the young, handsome movie star, Vincent Chase, as he makes millions of dollars on films and has sex with an uncountable number of young, beautiful women.  However, others favor an alternate lifestyle–one that comes with far less fame and praise.

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Ari Gold is the epitome of pop culture’s successful businessman archetype–a wealthy, egotistical boss-man.  He’s the guy that leaves his son’s birthday party to take care of business, without even asking permission; the guy that isn’t afraid to take on anyone, and the one who is so full of himself that when given a multimillion dollar deal, he nearly turns it down because of pride.  He’s passionate, powerful, and abrasive; he does and says what he wants, when he wants.  With the power and respect that he carries, it’s easy to see why college kids want to be him.

Being college students ourselves, we would be lying if we said we don’t also want to be Ari Gold.  If we were given his lifestyle right now, we’d quit school and be lobbying for movie stars just like him; however, if we started to act like Ari, then we might have a bigger problem.  While his lifestyle is desirable, his actions, for the most part, should not be directly copied.

His Ego Is Too Big

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Fan’s love for Ari comes from two things: their “yearning for [his] dominating masculine traits” and his humor that sparks from his ego.  No fan of the show would ever argue that Ari is a humble man.  His ego is part of what makes the show so enjoyable and the character so lovable; however, his maniacal ways are what make his personality so toxic in the workplace.

Following the success of Entourage and Jeremy Piven’s character, a real-life book written by the fictitious Ari Gold was released–The Gold Standard: Rules to Rule By.  In the book, Ari gives the readers his best advice on how to be a successful businessman.  

In the book, Ari says that he runs his business “like a mafia don.”  While this is a humorous notion if one is familiar with the character of Ari Gold, the idea should be alarming.  Ari is so egotistical that his best comparison to himself is a ruthlessly cruel gangster.  (For any prospective business mogul, please do not run your company like this, as lawsuits are sure to follow.)

Ari: A shattered world is what you get when you mess with Ari Gold!

Lloyd: Well, if you ask me, Ari Gold should rise up, and be the bigger man.

Ari: Well, unlike your world, where the bigger man pounds the smaller man from behind, the bigger man in my world is the last man standing.  And that man will be me, all right? (S5E3 “The All Out Fall Out”)

There is a difference between confidence and cockiness, and Ari is usually leaning heavily to the side of egomania.  He’s confident in his skills that made him into the most powerful talent agent in the industry, but in the end, his ego overtakes his persona and causes his life to self-destruct, as is outlined in the following sections.  

Simply put, be humble.

Ari’s Relationship with Vince

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Vince and Ari are two of the most powerful main characters in the show, as both represent hegemonic masculinity–what Shaamini Yogaretnam refers to as “the dominant expression of masculinity that is most valued and given most power by socio‐cultural patriarchy.”  However, as outlined by Yogaretnam, Vince and Ari achieve their power in different ways.  

While Ari exerts himself each day to maintain and expand his dominance, Vince is privileged in that he doesn’t have to work for it at all because of his good looks and celebrity status.  Life is easy for Vince (most of the time), but Ari’s life is a constant (yet successful) struggle–something that is easily seen by his stress levels throughout the show.

Although they both exert the same form of masculinity, they are not equal power-wise.  Since Vince is Ari’s client, Vince always has the upper-hand on Ari.  In Season Two, Ari explicitly says to Eric (E) Murphy, Vince’s manager and best friend:

“I don’t want this to get to a place where you start blaming me for everything.  You guys don’t listen to me.  Listen to this–you tell your boy to do Aquaman or you tell him to find other representation.” (S2E1 “The Boys Are Back”)

In the end, Vince does Aquaman, but only because he learns James Cameron is directing the film.  In the end, Ari’s ultimatum has no influence on Vince’s decision, as Ari’s threat is known to be an empty one, seen by how E and Vince ignore the comment altogether.

What makes Ari and Vince’s relationship so professionally (and personally) strong, is their ability to be real with each other at all times.  However, when Ari betrays Vince’s trust by treating him like all his other clients, Vince fires Ari.

Vince (to Ari): “You’re unreal.  Even after you fuck up like this, you still can’t even muster the strength to just, as my friend, look me in the face and say, ‘I’m sorry’.”

Ari: “That’s all you wanted?”

Vince: “That’s all I wanted.”

Ari: “Then I’m sorry, Vin.”

Vince: “It’s too late.”

Eric: “Ari, you’re fired.” (S3E12 “Sorry, Ari”)

Vince was Ari’s #1 guy, and the only client Ari truly called his friend.  Ari’s attitude and sharp tongue get him in trouble throughout the show, but it takes consequences like this for Ari to ever learn anything.

Don’t let these mistakes catch up with you.  Always treat your clients with respect, or they will leave.

Ari vs. His Nemeses

Ari has no shortage of enemies throughout the show.  Some of his most iconic moments come from these interactions, specifically with Amanda Daniels and Adam Davies.

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When Vince fired Ari, Vince hires Amanda, sparking a rivalry between the two agents that carries throughout the remainder of the show.  One of the most memorable moments is seen in Season 7 Episode 9, when Ari confronts Amanda in a restaurant.

Ari assumes that Amanda is trying to hurt Ari’s chances of bringing an NFL team to Los Angeles because of their history, but in the end, he obliterates his own chances, as Amanda reveals that she was trying to help him despite their differences.

Thus, it is important to not react on assumptions, for the consequences can be dire and completely inaccurate.  

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Adam Davies, once Ari’s protege, became Ari’s main nemesis after Davies turned on Ari, resulting in Ari’s firing from MGA.  

Davies says to Ari that “you should be a nicer person.  Maybe then, people wouldn’t fuck you.”  By saying this, Davies proves his lack of respect as a result of Ari’s demeaning persona.  This in turn starts a rivalry that brings out the worst in both individuals.

And then this happens.

While Ari ends up winning the war (and you may be saying that making enemies is a part of business), Ari could have avoided all of this if he had done what Davies said from the beginning–be a nicer person.  Ari’s hegemonic masculinity and need to win clouds his judgement, making him irrational and contemptible by his employees.  They are jealous of his lifestyle as they all want the same level of success and power, but they loathe him because of his lack of empathy.

Long story short, be nice to your employees, or they will disappoint you in your time of need.


Ari’s Counterparts

Mrs. Gold

One theme that is clear in the very first episode, and is reinforced as the seasons go on, is how females are disposable. This notion is first brought to light when Turtle invites Vince’s “groupies” over to relax by the pool, convincing one to have sex with him because he’s simply Vince’s friend. However, there is one character in particular who reverses the notion that women are disposable, and her name is Melissa Gold.

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Ari’s role in the workplace is obvious. He is the boss.  People answer to him, and he has certain expectations that everyone a part of the Miller Gold agency is supposed to meet. Don’t carry your fair share, and pretty soon you’ll be out of a job. On the other hand, when Ari leaves work, his wife controls him at home, straining his power and putting him “in pursuit of hegemony.”

When the audience is first introduced to Melissa, the show makes it clear that she can stand toe-to-toe with the ultimate boss-man, her husband. Obviously, Melissa sees a different side of Ari than that of his co-workers. She matches his temper tantrums and adolescent behavior with firm, and staunch commands. When Ari is dashing out of his son’s birthday party, she orders he comes back in a timely manner by saying “hey little agent boy, you better be back here for the cake”, to which Ari’s only response is “ok” (S1E6 “Busey at the Beach”).

Yet, Ari’s crude and selfish nature eventually becomes unbearable for even his wife of over a decade. By the time Season 8 rolls around, she has had enough of his unwillingness to realize that his continued lust for power is destroying their relationship. Her attempts to sustain their marriage by having weekly marriage counseling appointments have failed and she is left with no other option but divorce, making for one of the saddest scenes in the show: 

You certainly don’t want to be like Ari in this case.  Remember to always set work aside and provide your loved ones with the love they need.

Lloyd Lee

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The relationship between Ari and his assistant Lloyd Lee may be described as “subordinate masculinity.” In other words, Lloyd consequently becomes inferior or “less masculine” when compared to his boss because of his homosexuality. Lloyd Lee, portrayed by actor Rex Lee, is a gay, Asian male, introduced in the beginning of Season 2. He is immediately shown to be an outlier from the rest of the men in the series because he does not strive to sleep with women or prove his “manliness.”

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Ari does not treat Lloyd decently. He constantly berates and belittles him, by bashing him for for his sexual orientation, consequently offending the entire LGBT community. However, this is all just an act to “mask his dependence upon and genuine affection for Lloyd.” When Ari’s antics overcome Lloyd’s patience, Lloyd quits.

While Lloyd is out running errands for Ari, during a time where Ari is under immense pressure from dealing with studio heads, Ari calls him and begins to rant about how Lloyd needs to speed things up, using phrases that solidify his persona as a gay-bashing talent agent. Ari is ignorant about that fact that Lloyd, at that time, is the only person in Hollywood working on his side.  It isn’t until Lloyd leaves Ari that Ari realizes how dependent he was on the best assistant he ever had.

Ari is a deer in the headlights without Lloyd and is faced with unnecessary hindrances due to insufficient replacements. His life becomes much harder as a result, and his work begins to spiral out of control.

Even though some may not admit to it, this feature of Ari’s personality resembles the thought process behind the majority of our target audience. Viewers of the show enjoy his racial and homophobic slurs simply because it’s “funny.” However, this same scenario is a popular one in various situations. Men will brag about their dominance over women to boost their “manliness.” Also, it is common to use the suspicion of homosexuality as a threat towards another man’s toughness and masculinity. Thus, the “pleasure viewers take from Ari’s misogynist and homophobic statements and behaviors is tied to an enjoyment of the fantasy of hegemonic masculinity.”  

There is no need for Ari to act the way he does, for he would retain the same amount of power if he didn’t discriminate against or mock Lloyd.  Therefore, treat all of your employees with respect, and never discriminate anyone for being different from you.

The New Dynamic of Office Life

By now, it should be clear that when you are entering the workforce, mimicking Ari Gold is not a good idea. As we are currently in the year 2017, there are a few factors to keep in mind as a college intern or first-year employee. Firstly, the “blended workforce is on the rise.” In other words, straight, white males are not the only people in the office. As you are competing with your co-workers to move up the food chain, it is vital to do it in a politically correct manner. This means there is no room for the toxic masculinity that is embedded in Ari’s persona.

Furthermore, always keep your co-workers in mind. Working with them will make success more accessible, for “organizations have restructured to focus on team over individual performance.” The way in which you are perceived by your boss is not solely based on how effective you have been. How you work with your co-workers is a testament of how you will deal with potential clients or business partners.

Lastly, In today’s technologically advanced society, the job search is becoming more competitive. People are being replaced by robots or other humans who are more talented. Focusing your efforts on building skills will open the door for potential positions and job opportunities further down the line. There is no such thing as a lifetime employment contract, as seen by Ari’s firing from MGA; thus, all of your actions must be focused on improving yourself, but of course, in a way that does not hurt others.

Ari’s Hilarious, But Don’t Be Like Him

Ari is our favorite character from Entourage too.  He’s hilarious and fun to watch, but he’s fictitious.  Emulating his actions can have detrimental consequences, as his behaviour would not be tolerated in a running office in today’s world.  You don’t want to look back in fifty years and have regrets that you drifted away from your loved ones or were sued for sexual harassment (miraculously, Ari never was).  

Find a good mentor, who isn’t like Ari, and enjoy your climb to success and influence.  However, always respect the moral responsibilities that go along with these luxuries.

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