Curb Your Enthusiasm, Season 2


IT’S STRANGE THAT LARRY DAVID, such a nerdy, prickly middle-aged nebbish, is reviled so heartily by most in his generation and loved by most in mine. Several middle-aged people I’ve recommended the show to dislike it because they can’t stand Larry David (or at least his alternate self on the show), while my friends and I have nearly knighted him for his prickly foray into the world of banality and manners. This is because David refuses to settle into the cast of middle age. He rejects the 10 p.m. cut-off time for calling, questions dinner parties, calls people out when they steal the shrimp from his take-out—everything that niggles at us and we swallow, David spews out in a vivid hilarious bile.

Essentially, this is what Seinfeld was about. But it was zanier, more surreal, and for that, more comforting. Sure, David gets entangled into some ridiculous and horrible mishap each episode, but the show’s potent use of digital video, cursing, and an eerily real evocation of the absurd culture of L.A. living make Curb Your Enthusiasm ultimately superior to Seinfeld. It’s simultaneously uncomfortable and addictive, painful and hilarious.

The format of the show is extremely simple. Each episode, David needs to get something done or has something fun to look forward to, which is inevitability ruined by David’s own ineptness and poor luck and a slew of crazy women and aloof jerks. It’s simple and repetitive, but never tiresome, as the writers, actors, and directors of Curb continue to create some of the funniest and most resonant moments in recent TV memory.

Witness the episode in which Larry genially cuts off the hair of a little girl’s doll with disastrous results, or where he trips Shaq while sitting courtside at a Lakers game. Every episode of season two is its own tiny “Chekov meets Woody Allen” gem. And the supporting cast—Larry’s patient and resilient wife Cheryl, his shambling and froggy manager Jeff, his friend Richard Lewis, and his endless remarkable enemies—give the show a palpable texture I don’t glean from even The Sopranos or Six Feet Under.

What to see this weekend: I, Robot or Catwoman? Neither! Rent this show to remind yourself that TV is not owned by stale sitcoms or people eating bugs. Curb Your Enthusiasm—it’s right around the corner.