Within the past few years, Dwayne Johnson has finally risen to the superstardom that audiences believed he had the potential to achieve. Unlike a lot of actors that rise to that level, Johnson’s success isn’t dedicated as much to a stellar track record. Rather, he has taken substandard material in movies like San Andreas, but still impresses by carrying these films on his larger-than-life shoulders.
Johnson is now transitioning his success to television, with the second season of HBO’s Ballers under way. In the simplest terms, the show is a revival of the Entourage formula, except with a pigskin paint job. Johnson plays a former football player, who delves into the world of financial advising and all the hijinks that come with it. Calling it Entourage with football is both Ballers’ greatest strength and weakness. A strong cast provides consistent, care-free entertainment, but the show fails to become anything more substantial than that.
Center stage is Johnson, whose effortless charm transitions seamlessly onto television. As Spencer Stasmore, it’s a pleasure to see Johnson be able to work in a role that gives him more time to develop a character. He is able to be cool and charming throughout, but hints at darker moments allow for a more dramatic side to show.
Surrounding him is a fairly strong supporting cast. Rob Corddry has consistently been one of the industry’s most reliable comedy role players, always delivering his high-energy and vulgar sensibilities. Much talk has been made about John David Washington, son of Denzel, having a major role in the show. He is quite good as well, bringing a certain charm to his brash wide receiver character.
Further solidifying the Entourage comparison is the easy-going approach the show features. Even with all the conflict happening with the characters, each episode is packed with humorous situations and strong banter between the characters. The show’s Miami setting also fits the program to a tee, with the wild party atmosphere making an ideal canvas for all the shenanigans.
At the same time, Ballers fails to feel all that memorable, even as audiences watch it. Its disposability is most likely blamed for the show’s tepidness to ever delve into darker waters. Hints at Spencer’s past injury or financial troubles are dispersed throughout, before being quickly passed over for jokes. The show time and time again has shied away from the strong and relevant dramatic punch that it could be delivering.
Ballers Season Two has given audiences a consistently enjoyable, yet forgettable thirty-minute block, carried mostly by the charismatic presence of Dwayne Johnson.