The comedy writer hasn’t changed—but the world around him has. Does the new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm come off?by Lucinda Smyth / November 29, 2017 / Leave a comment
After a six-year gap, this autumn saw the return of long-running HBO sitcom Curb Your Enthusiasm. (The finale airs at 10pm on Sunday on Sky Atlantic in the UK). The programme follows Larry David, comedian and co-creator of 1990s television series Seinfeld, playing a fictionalised version of himself as a semi-retired screenwriter in LA.
Now in its ninth and possibly final season, the hiatus makes the series unusual (each previous season has been either one or two years apart). When the last series aired in July 2011, America was a very different place. Obama hadn’t started his second term, Snapchat didn’t exist and no one knew who Edward Snowden was. Fast-forward to 2017 and America is governed by a man who, in addition to holding a number of questionable views, is rude and privileged, with no filter or social awareness. While David’s curmudgeonly schtick was funny in a different political landscape, now it might cut too close to the bone. Could it be that the Trump era has surpassed Curb, and put an end to the white privileged man comic archetype? In other words, is Larry David still funny?
For long-term fans of the show there is much in the new series to enjoy. The writing is as sharp as ever, the structure is tight and the unexpected recurrence of earlier characters (including the Big Vagina and Krazee Eyez Killa) help contribute towards a satisfying conclusion. There’s also still something inherently funny about Larry David. It’s not just his outlandish behaviour or distinctive tone of voice, but his physicality. The long skull that pokes out of a ring of white hair, the bow-legged walk, the sagging shoulders and non-plussed expression: any of these are enough to raise a laugh.
The first episode opens with a shot of Larry singing Mary Poppins in the shower: the camera zooms along his wrinkly man boobs, his white hair slicked against his scalp like a molerat, his sinewy arms grappling with a bottle of shower gel that he can’t seem to open. In the 17 years since Curb first aired, Larry not only behaves but looks near-identical to how he did then—he appears not to have aged at all. This opening makes it clear: he is…