Curb Your Enthusiasm is an American comedy television series produced and broadcast by HBO, which premiered on October 15, 2000. As of 2011, it has completed 80 episodes over eight seasons. The series was created by Seinfeld co-creator Larry David, who stars as a fictionalized version of himself. The series follows David in his life as a semiretired television writer and producer in Los Angeles and later New York City. Also starring are Cheryl Hines as David’s wife, Cheryl, Jeff Garlin as David’s manager, Jeff, and Susie Essman as Jeff’s wife, Susie. Curb Your Enthusiasm often features guest stars, and many of these appearances are by celebrities playing versions of themselves fictionalized to varying degrees.
The plots and subplots of the episodes are established in an outline written by David and the dialogue is largely improvised by the actors. As with Seinfeld, the subject matter in Curb Your Enthusiasm often involves the minutiae of daily life, and plots often revolve around Larry David’s many faux pas and his problems with certain social conventions and expectations, as well as his annoyance with other people’s behavior. The character has a hard time letting such annoyances go unexpressed, which often leads him into awkward situations.
The series was developed from a 1999 one-hour special, Larry David: Curb Your Enthusiasm, which David and HBO originally envisioned as a one-time project. The special was shot as a mockumentary, where the characters were aware of the presence of cameras and a crew. The series itself is not a mock documentary but is shot in a somewhat similar cinéma vérité-like style. Curb Your Enthusiasm has received high critical acclaim, and has grown in popularity since its debut. It has been nominated for 34 Primetime Emmy Awards, and Robert B. Weide received an Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series for the episode “Krazee Eyez Killa”. The show won the 2002 Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy.
Curb Your Enthusiasm episodes are typically named after an event, object, or person which figures prominently in the plot, similarly to how Seinfeld episodes were named. Many episodes concern breaches of intricate aspects of social conventions, such as the various details of tipping at restaurants, the obligation to “stop and chat” upon meeting an acquaintance, the allowed amount of caviar one may put on a cracker at a house party, whether a house guest needs the permission of the homeowner before taking a soft drink from the refrigerator. Others involve more significant issues, such as if and when a white person may say the racially sensitive word “nigger”. And some involve the etiquette of extremely complex and unique circumstances, such as the occasion when Larry discovered at a wake that the deceased was to be buried with his favorite golf club—borrowed from Larry. Another involved Larry picking up a prostitute for the sole purpose of using the carpool lane on the freeway. In many episodes, Curb—like its predecessor Seinfeld—tied together apparently unrelated events woven throughout a given episode into an unforced climax that resolves the story lines simultaneously, either to Larry’s advantage or detriment.
While each episode has a distinct individual plot, story arcs between episodes are also fairly common, and most seasons have a major overarching arc. These season-long story arcs are stretched across most of the season’s ten episodes, and culminate in a season finale.
- In season one (2000), the style and the characters of the show are introduced across a series of mostly isolated episodes, as it is the only season without a major story arc.
- In season two (2001), Cheryl is tired of Larry not working, so he begins to develop a new television show, first with guest stars Jason Alexander and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (George and Elaine on Seinfeld, respectively) as themselves. However, Larry’s constant social faux pas ruin all of their chances with every major television network.
- In season three (2002), Larry invests in a restaurant enterprise which finally opens despite many mishaps, most of which are Larry’s fault.
- In season four (2004), Mel Brooks casts Larry as the lead in his hit musical The Producers. Cheryl also gives Larry the opportunity to have sex with another woman before their tenth anniversary as an anniversary-gift.
- In season five (2005), Larry’s friend Richard Lewis gets very ill and requires a kidney transplant. Larry is a match, but he spends the season looking for other sources of a kidney for Lewis. Also in season five, Larry suspects he may be adopted and embarks on a search to find his biological parents.
- Season six (2007) is built around Cheryl persuading Larry to take in a family that is left homeless after a major Gulf Coast hurricane. Later in the season, Cheryl leaves Larry, mimicking Laurie David’s real-life divorce from Larry. He spends the rest of the season either fighting for her to come back or looking for another woman.
- Most of season seven (2009) is centered on creating a Seinfeld reunion show with the original cast, while Larry is either dating or trying to get back together with Cheryl.
- Season eight (2011) continues to follow Larry’s single life after he and Cheryl get divorced. At the midpoint of the season, the main characters all travel to New York City, where the rest of the season is set.
Learn more about the concepts, principles and symbolism behind the subliminals found in this television series: