Curb Your Enthusiasm (CYE) is the brainchild of comedian Larry David and like a child, the fictionalised version of himself that he plays in the show (Larry, a semi-retired LA television writer) blurts out anything and everything that comes to mind, not worrying about any of the consequences. You might cringe and wince at the awkwardness that transpires, but the beauty of it is that during those moments of social discomfort, you can’t help but laugh at how much of an idiot “Larry” truly is.
The creators behind sitcoms like the British and US versions of The Office and Arrested Development have all cited CYE as one of their major influences when developing their shows. There is a certain art that Larry David has mastered to turn even the fact that someone is refusing to use a coaster to save the furniture into straight up comedy. And he has a wicked ability to tap into our secret antisocial side with his ridiculous yet relatable ways to avoid people you don’t want to interact with. CYE is Larry David turning human nature inside out in its embarrassing glory.
“The character really is me, but I just couldn’t possibly behave like that… As crazy as this person is, I could step into those shoes right now, but I would be arrested or I’d be hit or whatever,” says Larry. In “Larry”, we have someone on our smallscreens who couldn’t care less about breaking social norms as long as his insignificant, petty point is made. The upcoming season includes some marvellously deviant examples of where Larry not only crosses the line, but backflips over it like an Olympic gymnast…
Has there ever been a time in your life when you’ve bumped into someone you didn’t really want to talk to? And then you’ve gone on to make things worse by begrudgingly agreeing to a lunch date because you don’t want to seem like a terrible person? Larry figures out a wonderfully weasel-ish way to get out of said situation that is so diabolical, you just have to applaud him: he decides to wear a Make America Great Again hat to the lunch, which leads to an instant cancellation from his lunch companion. Sure, people are going to assume you support the bigoted policies of the current US president, but you do get out of lunch with someone who annoys you. And look at all that lovely space that opens up around your restaurant table. Being a political plague rat is social distancing at its finest.
Through a series of horrible misinterpretations and pure stubbornness, Larry finds himself at the centre of a sexual harassment case with his annoying assistant this season. Later, by chance, they end up in the lift together when she chokes on a piece of dry scone. A normal person would instantly do their utmost to try save her life, but Larry being Larry, finds himself in a dilemma where he begins to perform the Heimlich manoeuvre, but hesitates because he doesn't know if it's appropriate to touch her. Save her life and be sued by her again for sexual harassment, or leave her be and save yourself the court hassle? Dark, but oh-so funny and a perfect illustration of many Hollywood men’s self-centred take on The #MeToo movement.
In a brief scene, we see Larry trying to bypass a man with a walker on his way to the restroom. In pure frustration, Larry loudly strolls past him and uses the loo. Admittedly, we’ve found ourselves in many situations like this in malls or pavements where all hope just leaves your body with every slow step the person in front of you takes, and seeing Larry just not give a hoot about the person, feels like a small victory that you want to secretly celebrate in shame.
Looking a gift house in the mouth
Asking your work colleague to return the pen that you gave them is already awkward. Now imagine it’s an estranged family member and instead of a pen, it’s a house. That’s what Larry has to deal with when his ex-wife, Cheryl (Cheryl Hines), tells him that her sister, Becky (Kaitlin Olson), is selling the house that Cheryl and Larry bought her as a gift. Not one to pass up any opportunity to be a jackass, Larry confronts Becky and asks to give him any profit she makes on the house because, why not? He paid for it.
When Larry’s lawyer steps out for a phonecall, Larry decides to use his lawyer's private office toilet even after specifically being told not to as there is a perfectly good public one just a bit further on. When the lawyer gets back, he just knows something “bad” has been done, but he can’t put his finger on it. If ever there was a time Larry deserved sympathy, it would be here. When you have to go, you have to go, even if you are a self-centred ass like Larry.
Watch Curb Your Enthusiasm S10 from Friday, 19 June on M-Net (DStv 101) at 22:30