Curb Your Enthusiasm
Curb Your Enthusiasm is an American comedy television series produced and broadcast by HBO that premiered on October 15, 2000. The series was created by Larry David starring as a fictionalized version of himself. The series follows Larry in his life as a semi-retired television writer and producer in Los Angeles and for one season, New York City. Also starring are Cheryl Hines as his wife Cheryl, Jeff Garlin as his manager and best friend 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.
|Curb Your Enthusiasm|
|Created by||Larry David|
|Story by||Larry David|
J. B. Smoove
|Theme music composer||Luciano Michelini|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||9|
|No. of episodes||90 (plus 60-minute special) (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Larry David|
Robert B. Weide
|Production location(s)||Los Angeles|
New York City
|Running time||26–58 minutes|
|Production company(s)||HBO Entertainment|
|Distributor||Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution|
|Picture format||480i (4:3 SDTV) (seasons 1–6)|
1080i (16:9 HDTV) (season 7–present)
|Original release||October 15, 2000 –|
The plots and subplots of the episodes are established in an outline written by David, and the dialogue is largely improvised by the actors (a technique known as retroscripting). As with Seinfeld, which David co-created, the subject matter in Curb Your Enthusiasm often involves the minutiae of American daily social 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. He is also routinely the victim of elaborate misunderstandings wherein other characters believe that he has done something morally terrible or disgusting.
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 38 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.
David has explained the show's title in TV interviews as reflecting his perception that many people seem to live their lives projecting false enthusiasm, which he believes is used to imply that "they are better than you". This conflicts with his dry style. The title also urges the audience not to expect too much from the show; at the time of the premiere, David wanted to lower expectations after his earlier success in the entertainment industry.
The series stars Larry David as an extreme fictionalized version of himself. Like the real-life David, the character is well known as the co-creator and main co-writer of the highly successful sitcom Seinfeld. Although David maintains an office, he leads a semiretired life and is rarely shown working. Most of the series revolves around David's interactions with his friends and acquaintances, with David often at odds with the other characters, usually to his detriment. Despite this, the characters do not seem to harbor ill feelings toward each other for any extended period, and the cast has stayed stable throughout the show.
For most of the series, the Larry David character is living a married-without-children life in Los Angeles with his wife Cheryl (Cheryl Hines). David's main confidant on the show is his manager Jeff Greene (Jeff Garlin), who has a temperamental and persistently vulgar wife named Susie (Susie Essman). A large portion of the show's many guest stars are celebrities and public figures, such as actors, comedians, sportspeople, and politicians, who also play fictionalized versions of themselves. These include David's longtime friend Richard Lewis as well as Ted Danson and his wife Mary Steenburgen.
The show is set and filmed in various affluent Westside communities of (and occasionally in downtown) Los Angeles, as well as in the adjacent cities of Beverly Hills, Culver City, and Santa Monica. David's hometown of New York City is also featured in some episodes.
Curb Your Enthusiasm premiered with an hour-long special on October 17, 1999, upon which the series was based. The first eight seasons of the series aired from 2000 to 2011, leading to a prolonged six-year hiatus. The series finally returned for a ninth season in 2017, while a tenth season will air in 2020.
The episodes are typically named after an event, object, or person that 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, and the obligation to "stop and chat" upon meeting an acquaintance.
Unrelated events woven throughout a given episode are tied 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, most seasons feature a story arc that extends across several episodes and culminates in a finale that often features the return of many of the characters that appeared throughout the season.
|First aired||Last aired|
|Special||October 17, 1999|
|1||10||October 15, 2000||December 17, 2000|
|2||10||September 23, 2001||November 25, 2001|
|3||10||September 15, 2002||November 17, 2002|
|4||10||January 4, 2004||March 14, 2004|
|5||10||September 25, 2005||December 4, 2005|
|6||10||September 9, 2007||November 11, 2007|
|7||10||September 20, 2009||November 22, 2009|
|8||10||July 10, 2011||September 11, 2011|
|9||10||October 1, 2017||December 3, 2017|
|10||10||January 19, 2020||TBA|
- Larry David (Himself) – Candid, neurotic, but generally disposed to pursue what he perceives to be the right course, Larry often finds himself in awkward situations that arise as a result of his obstinate belief in his own ethical principles and codes of conduct, which he is nevertheless prepared to bend when it suits him. He usually has good intentions but often finds himself a victim of circumstance and social convention, as many of the people around him are also self-centered and stubborn. He often focuses on petty details and stubbornly holds to his opinion to the extent of aggravating everyone around him just to prove an insignificant point. The real-life Larry David has commented that although he secretly wishes to be more like his fictionalized version on the series, he could never be that way because he is a lot more cautious when it comes to social tension. Larry's trademark behaviors are his probing stare when he doesn't think somebody is telling the truth, fondly saying something is "prett-ay, prett-ay, prett-ay, pretty good", and when caught up short in a moment of poor or contrary behavior, quizzically and mock-innocently inquiring, often of his wife, Cheryl, or of a close friend, "No good?" Among Larry's characteristics are his love of playing golf and his annoyance at having to engage in small talk, especially with people he deals with in commercial situations, such as waiters and tradesmen. Larry also humorously explores various aspects of Jewish life, history, and culture.
- Jeff Greene (Jeff Garlin) – One of Larry's closest friends, Jeff is his sympathetic manager, whose marital problems and adulterous misadventures entangle Larry in embarrassing situations. Jeff often helps Larry with his problems, but that usually leads to Jeff getting entangled in the mess. Jeff and his wife, Susie (Susie Essman), have a daughter named Sammi (Ashly Holloway). While they ultimately love each other, his wife constantly criticizes him on his decisions and weight, while his daughter at times is neutral about her love for her father. Jeff Garlin stated that he truly does not empathize with his character at all and described him as a "pretty evil guy" who has "no morals, no scruples".
- Cheryl David (Cheryl Hines) – Cheryl is Larry's long-suffering wife (and later, ex-wife), who often expresses annoyance with his behavior, even in situations beyond his control. She often serves as a voice of reason for him and helps define the social guidelines that he may have overlooked. While her adventures never lead her far off from Larry, she has various activities outside day-to-day married life, including an acting stint, and more sustainably, being an advocate of environmental issues, including becoming a member of and fundraiser for the NRDC. Her affection for Larry has been tested, even resulting in her leaving him for a time; upon learning that he had put together the Seinfeld reunion just to have a chance to get back with her, she sees it as a sign of their "belong[ing] together" but soon decides to file for divorce when Larry concentrates on a coffee stain incident rather than the fact that they are back together, refusing yet again to listen to her. They divorce in the season eight premiere episode. After being absent for the rest of season eight, Cheryl returns as a regular in season nine, though she and Larry are still divorced and date other people.
- Susie Greene (Susie Essman) – Jeff's shrill wife, known for her explosive temper and her filthy mouth. Consequently, her reactions to Larry range from near violence via benign grievances to occasionally fonder repartee. Able to put two and two together, she frequently catches Larry and Jeff in plans gone awry or cover-up of some misbehavior. She routinely berates Larry and Jeff with profanity-laced tirades after uncovering one of their schemes. Susie and Jeff have an "on-again, off-again" relationship. She often uses Larry as a scapegoat for her marital problems. She is known to refer to Larry as "Larry Fucking David", "Bald Asshole", and "Four-Eyed Fuck," and when he crosses her, she is known to respond "Fuck you, Larry David!" while her common expletive to her husband is "You fat piece of shit!" She often serves to enforce traditional moral standards, such as the sanctity of marital vows and fealty to hearth and home, at times versus her husband, at others versus Larry, and usually versus both. Susie Essman was upgraded from guest star billing to main cast billing beginning with season eight.
- Leon Black (J. B. Smoove) – the brother of Loretta Black, a single mother whose family was a victim of Hurricane Edna. When Larry and Cheryl take in Loretta and her family, Leon moves in, too, even though he was living in Los Angeles already long before the hurricane. After a while, however, Loretta and her family move out of the house, but Leon simply stays behind. He often displays that he has Larry's back, tending to be a lot more blunt and confrontational than Larry could ever be. This involves him helping Larry with his various misadventures and giving him reassurance and tips for how to fend for himself. Leon is also quite promiscuous when it comes to women, regardless of their being married. Leon first appears in the season 6 episode, "The Anonymous Donor". Smoove was upgraded from guest star billing to main cast billing beginning with season nine.
Among the show's many recurring roles, Richard Lewis, Ted Danson, and Wanda Sykes play fictionalized versions of themselves as old friends of Larry's with whom he frequently butts heads. Shelley Berman played Larry's father, Nat David. Bob Einstein frequently appeared as Marty Funkhouser, another of Larry's oldest friends. Kaitlin Olson recurred as Becky, Cheryl's sister. In seasons six and seven, Vivica A. Fox appears as Loretta Black, a member of the Black family, a family of hurricane evacuees who take refuge in Larry's house upon Cheryl's invitation. Loretta eventually becomes Larry's primary love interest for a time once he and Cheryl split up.
Notable guest appearances
Celebrities, including actors, comedians, authors, musicians and athletes, often make guest appearances on the show, with a large portion of them playing themselves, or fictional versions thereof. Some of these guest stars are Mary Steenburgen, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft, Michael York, Martin Scorsese, Ben Stiller and Christine Taylor, Christian Slater, Martin Short, Jimmy Kimmel, Lucy Lawless, David Schwimmer, Shaquille O'Neal, Rosie O'Donnell, Ricky Gervais, Michael J. Fox, Salman Rushdie, Elizabeth Banks, Hugh Hefner, Alanis Morissette, Bill Buckner, Mookie Wilson, Colby Donaldson and the main cast of Seinfeld – Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander and Michael Richards. Notable people who filled in fictional roles include Bea Arthur, Ed Asner, Sacha Baron Cohen, Stephen Colbert, Steve Coogan, Gina Gershon, Dustin Hoffman, Samantha Mathis, Tim Meadows, Bryan Cranston, Bob Odenkirk, Elisabeth Shue and Frank Whaley.
Curb Your Enthusiasm is one of the most acclaimed television shows of the 2000s, praised particularly for its writing and the actors' improvisational comedy. The show has enjoyed largely positive critical reception since its debut and a steadily growing, dedicated audience that helped it emerge from its early "cult" status.
On Metacritic, the first season of the show scored 80 out of 100 (based on 20 reviews), 93 for season 3 (based on 12 reviews), 88 for season 4 (18 reviews), 91 for season 5 (five reviews), 89 for season 6 (nine reviews), 81 for season 7 (18 reviews), 86 for season 8 (six reviews) and 74 for season 9 (10 reviews).
Slate named the characters of Cheryl David and Susie Greene as two of the best on television and as reasons to look forward to the return of the show in the fall of 2007. Curb Your Enthusiasm has also received praise from Galus Australis magazine for being even more unabashedly Jewish than the Seinfeld series.
Of the show's depiction of Jewish characters, academic Vincent Brook stated, "Curb's commitment to Jewish identification greatly enhances its storytelling capacity, as it lends greater realism and dimension to the characters and opens the show up to episodes with meaningful Jewish themes."
The character of Larry on the show is in many ways reminiscent of the Schlemiel character often present in traditional Yiddish folklore. The schlemiel is usually a comic character whose actions lead to his inevitable downfall, but also stands as a form of resistance to social and cultural values and norms. David Gillota wrote:
|“||As a true schlemiel, Larry's failure serves as a direct challenge to the status quo and encourages viewers to question the myriad unwritten rules that we follow in our everyday lives. Whereas the schlemiel of Eastern Europe encountered problems that mostly affected Eastern European Jews (such as anti-Semitism and economic survival), Larry encounters problems that affect contemporary middle- to upper-class American Jews, namely, Jewish assimilation, secularism, intermarriage, and, as all of these suggest, the Jews' precarious ethnic identity in an increasingly multicultural environment.||”|
Journalist James Andrew Miller made the first chapter of his new podcast "Origins" about Curb Your Enthusiasm. The chapter goes across five episodes and was released on September 6, 2017. It documents the genesis of the series, and uses conversations with people involved in the show. The conversations themselves are also released.
Awards and nominations
The series has received a total of 43 Primetime Emmy Award nominations, winning twice: Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series for Robert B. Weide for "Krazee-Eyez Killa" in 2003, and Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series for Steven Rasch for "Palestinian Chicken" in 2012. The series has received eight nominations for Outstanding Comedy Series. Larry David has received six nominations for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. Cheryl Hines has received two nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. Shelley Berman and Michael J. Fox have each received a nomination for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series. The series has also received ten nominations for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series. The ninth season received four nominations at the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards, for Outstanding Comedy Series, Larry David for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, and Bryan Cranston and Lin-Manuel Miranda each for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series.
The series has also received five Golden Globe Award nominations (in 2003 and 2006) and won for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy in 2003. Larry David has been nominated for three Golden Globes for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy in 2003, 2005, and 2006. It has been nominated for four Screen Actors Guild Awards, two for Larry David and two for the ensemble cast. It has been nominated six times for the Producers Guild of America Award, winning twice in 2003 and 2005. It has been nominated for eleven Directors Guild of America Awards, winning twice for Bryan Gordon for "The Special Section" in 2003 and Robert B. Weide for "Palestinian Chicken" in 2012. It has been nominated fives times for the Writers Guild of America Award, winning once in 2006.
When aired in syndication, the series is edited from its original HBO broadcast (for running time and without the TV-MA scenes). On June 2, 2010, the series premiered on the TV Guide Network, making its basic cable debut. The network also recorded a series of related discussions with high-profile guest stars, media pundits, and prominent social figures called "Curb: The Discussion" debating the moral implications depicted in each episode. The show debuted in syndication on WGN America in September 2010, but was removed from syndication on WGN America the following year due to low ratings. Between 2010 and 2014 the show aired on MyNetworkTV. It debuted on TV Land in February 2013.
The first season of Curb Your Enthusiasm was released on VHS in a three-volume box set.
Curb Your Enthusiasm seasons come in a two-disc DVD set with ten episodes.
|Season||Release dates||Bonus features|
|Region 1||Region 2|
|1||January 13, 2004||May 17, 2004||Commentary by Larry David, Jeff Garlin, Cheryl Hines and Robert B. Weide on the pilot episode; interview with Larry David; HBO TV special Larry David: Curb Your Enthusiasm|
|2||June 15, 2004||October 18, 2004||None|
|3||January 18, 2005||February 7, 2005||60 minutes of extras with the cast and directors at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen|
|4||August 30, 2005||September 26, 2005||None|
|5||August 1, 2006||September 11, 2006||"The History of Curb... so far" and "The History of Curb... even further" featurettes|
|6||January 29, 2008||June 9, 2008||A Conversation with Larry David and Susie Essman; On the Set: Curb Your Enthusiasm; Gag reel|
|7||June 8, 2010||June 7, 2010||Rebuilding the Seinfeld Sets; Larry David as George Costanza; interview with Larry David and the Seinfeld cast, and more|
|8||June 5, 2012||June 11, 2012||"Leon's Guide to NYC"; Roundtable discussion with Larry & the cast|
|9||March 6, 2018||March 5, 2018||Cast Memorable Moments and Deleted Scenes|
A Curb Your Enthusiasm book was released October 19, 2006, published by Gotham Books. The book contains stories from Larry David's past, original interviews and commentary, episode outlines, episode guide, and over 100 full-color photographs. The contents of the book span the first five seasons of the show.
The show is punctuated between scenes with music orchestrated by Wendell Yuponce and from a music library company called Killer Tracks. Frequently heard are instrumental arrangements of the whimsical "Three Little Maids From School Are We" from The Mikado, and the rhythmic Gypsy dance "Les tringles des sistres tintaient" from Carmen. The opening and closing theme song (not mentioned in the credits) is "Frolic" by Italian composer Luciano Michelini. Larry David heard the music used in a bank commercial years before the show was created and thought it had a lighthearted, joyful quality. An unofficial soundtrack was released by Mellowdrama Records in 2006.
- Episode 4, "The Bracelet" (season one)
- Episode 67, "The Black Swan" (season seven)
- Episode 63, "The Reunion" (season seven)
- Episode 20, "The Massage" (season two)
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- Lapidos, Juliet (September 21, 2007). "Oh, How We've Missed You!". Slate. Retrieved September 23, 2007.
- Frosh, Anthony (June 28, 2009). "Jews in Pop-culture: a Critical Examination Part". Galus Australis.
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- ASIN B000RWEL7Y
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- ASIN B000FDJ31Y
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