Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm.

The Staying Power of “Curb Your Enthusiasm”

When Larry David first brought us the earliest insight into what would become a 25-year odyssey, you’d be forgiven for not expecting it to take us this far. Yes, he was hot off the success of Seinfeld - which he co-created - but that doesn’t mean that the next project would follow suit. Fortunately, not only did Curb Your Enthusiasm do just that, but it became the second Larry David venture to cement itself into the pop culture zeitgeist. That’s a solid track record.

Recapping the series finale of "Curb Your Enthusiasm."

The show started out as a special on HBO back in 1999. It was meant as a one-off thing that saw David return to stand-up post-Seinfeld. However, that special gave way to a series. David brought along with him fellow stand-ups Jeff Garlin, Susie Essman, and Richard Lewis, and cast improviser Cheryl Hines as his wife. Up against other HBO properties like The Sopranos and Sex and the City, the show held its own, thanks to its distinctive look that gave you the impression of being a fly on the wall. There were not really any frills to it. You were just following David as he managed to somehow get in hot water more and more with every passing episode.

Over time, the show built up a cult-like following. It became beloved by critics and fans alike, while mainly ignored by the Emmys and Golden Globes. But there was something far more special about the show itself than those awards could tell us. Given the fact that it was entirely unscripted, there brought a real authenticity and rawness to the situation. You’re seeing how people would actually react in certain situations, and that made it all the more compelling, and also funny.

There was a bit of an evolution over the years. The more popular the show got, the more you could see it start to appear on the show, with an array of guest stars and a more polished feel in some of the later seasons. Despite the show having a different sort of overall vibe, it always managed to stay true to what it always was, and is one of those rare shows that never seemed to jump the shark over the course of its 25 years. When they introduced the character of Leon in season 6, it just made the show that much better. David had a real gift for finding who would play well within his fictional world.

With season 12, we all knew it would be its last, which guaranteed this go-around would be met with even more fanfare than usual. Being the last season after a quarter of a century of build-up, there were a lot that fans wanted to see. Within this past season, we got to see David get into legal trouble, after giving a character water while she was in line to vote in Atlanta in the first episode this season and getting arrested. That became the arc of the season, and even though they didn’t always play into it, we did get to see David make the most of the final season, but especially the final episode, in which he got his day in court.

Fans had been predicting that the show would end with David and Seinfeld in jail together, as a parody of how the other show ended. Those fans had a feeling they got their wish when Seinfeld showed up to support David in Atlanta. Throughout the court case, they brought in all of David’s past foes to talk about what a horrible person he is, and we got to stroll down memory lane in a way that only had a touch of sentimentality and nostalgia. More than anything else, it never strayed from being funny.

Finally, David was found guilty and sentenced to a year in prison. However, his stint was cut short when Seinfeld met him in the prison cell to bail him out. Yes, fans had called it accurately. The show was managing to have a second go at a series finale, after Seinfeld’s was harshly criticized by critics and fans alike for leaving the four characters in prison at the end of the show with no resolution. The show was now having its cake and eating it, too, as David’s entire case was thrown out.

What had us keep coming back to David and his neurotic antics is exactly why we all fell in love with the show to begin with: He sort of acted as a proxy for social situations. He was never shy about calling out injustices as he saw them, in a matter that many of us are far too filtered to ever do so ourselves. But we loved watching David doing so, and this ending of the series was probably the closest he’d ever get to a win, as he’s leaving the prison. However, knowing the character as well as we all do, something tells us there will be another opportunity for him to stick his foot in his mouth right around the corner. Just wish that we could see him do it!

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