How Season 3 of HBO’s ‘Ballers’ Fits Into the Trajectory of Dwayne Johnson’s Career
The Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson-helmed series, “Ballers,” which seemingly fills the void left behind by the departure of “Entourage,” returns for a third season. The HBO series lives up to par as far as the first two seasons are concerned, but it still doesn’t quite hit the sweet spot “Entourage” once conquered.
The series, which provides viewers with a lavish look inside the privileged world of celebrity, picks up with ex-NFL player turned businessman Spencer Strasmore (Johnson) on the verge of sealing the biggest deal of his career: moving the Oakland Raiders to the paradise in the desert (a.k.a. Las Vegas). This inevitably becomes the seasons overarching narrative. The rest of the cast spends much of the time getting in and out of trouble, giving the series a tinge of comic relief. Among the chaos, Vernon (Donovan W. Carter) and Reggie (London Brown) pursue a marijuana endorsement deal that could hurt their image and hinder potential branding opportunities.
While the series contains plenty of drama, it always remains light on its feet and manages to move along quite swiftly. One of the most comedic and timely lines of the season thus far plays after Spencer refers to his looks as “presidential,” to which he is quickly rebuffed, “not that that means much now anyway.” The line comes quite ironically as Johnson has publicly toyed with a real-life presidential bid himself.
It’s impressive that Johnson has the time to fit a series producer and series star credit into his jam-packed schedule considering he’s already starring in blockbuster installments of his various big screen ventures, which include the highly profitable “Fast and Furious” franchise, the forthcoming “Jumanji” reboot and this summers lackluster “Baywatch” outing to name a few.
Much like his big screen persona, Johnson presents virtually the same character each time around: a confident (and very fit) alpha male, who can juggle any obstacle that comes his way with style and charisma. By now, Johnson plays this role well, but it begs the question of whether or not the star will need more variety for the sake of longevity as his career accelerates forward. However, that is not in question for “Ballers,” as his persona will more than suffice as the series’ leading archetype.
“Ballers” season three goes on to challenge Johnson’s masculinity. Spencer’s fertility comes into question after the conversation is brought up by Ricky (John David Washington), who is unintentionally headed towards fatherhood himself. If anything, it is refreshing to see Johnson’s character challenged in this unique way, especially in the nearly over exposed market he has carved out for himself.
As a whole, the series is entertaining, but not much else. It’s hard to imagine a series like “Ballers” having much longevity, especially when its producer and star is shooting into mega movie stardom territory. However, one thing is for certain: As long as “The Rock,” charisma and all, has his name attached to it, audiences will likely continue to blindly follow suit.
“Ballers” season 3 premieres July 23 and airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on HBO.