In the Watch This Next column, Man of Many takes a look back at a great TV show or film that may have slipped under your radar. Given the near-limitless entertainment options in the Netflix era, it’s easy to overlook amazing content in favour of the latest hit. For every Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad or Stranger Things, there’s another thing equally worthy of attention and we make the case for why you should watch it and where you can find it.
You know what? There’s a jet stream of bullshit coming out of your mouth my friend’ – Larry David, ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’
In the annals of comedy history, there are few individuals that can rival the influence of Larry David, the co-creator of Seinfeld and the inspiration for George Costanza himself. Having transformed the comedy landscape with the most successful sitcom in history, he has helped redefine the genre for a new generation in the form of HBO’s ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’, a painfully funny sendup of the trivialities of modern life.
Originally planned as a one-off HBO mockumentary in 1999, the show is now the network’s longest-running scripted comedy or drama and the rarest of TV beasts – a situational comedy that gets funnier season after season.
The undisputed master of wringing the humour out of everyday interactions, David here plays a heightened version of himself, with actors appearing as fictional versions of his wife (Cheryl Hines) and agent (Jeff Garlin), alongside real-world friends like Ted Danson and Richard Lewis and a slew of celebrity cameos.
Yet, despite it’s pedigree, ‘Curb’ has remained a relatively cult comedy. It lacks the production values and polish of some of its modern peers and is not filmed to a traditional script, but rather working to a scene-by-scene outline, with dialogue largely improvised by the cast.
The result is a naturalistic, almost amateurish, situational comedy that draws as much from the tradition of cinéma verite as it does from ‘Seinfeld’. By doing away with a majority of the bells and whistles of modern TV comedy, David allows his natural comedic instincts to flourish, pairing ‘Seinfeld’s slightly wacky sensibility with a heightened focus on the ridiculousness of social norms and etiquette as seen through the lens of a celebrity.
It’s here where ‘Curb’ excels, with the misanthropic Larry emphatic in his distaste for the behaviour of others and their adherence to accepted conventions. Whether it’s refusing to move to the front seat when getting a lift, or questioning the caviar consumption of fellow party-goers, Larry is completely unreasonable in his reasonableness and his own worst enemy.
‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ has received widespread critical acclaim and has been nominated for 39 Emmy Awards, winning two, as well as the Golden Globe for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy in 2003. After a six-year absence, HBO recently announced a ninth season was in production and will air towards the end of the year.
‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ is currently available on iTunes and Season 9 will air on the Comedy Channel on Foxtel from October 2nd.