Curb Your Enthusiasm

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Curb Your Enthusiasm
Curbyourenthusiasm.png
Genre
Created by Larry David
Story byLarry David
Starring
Theme music composer Luciano Michelini
Opening theme"Frolic"
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons11
No. of episodes110 + one-hour special (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producers
Production locations
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time26–58 minutes [1]
Production company HBO Entertainment
Distributor
Release
Original network HBO
Picture format
Original releaseOctober 15, 2000 (2000-10-15) 
present
Chronology
Related shows Seinfeld

Curb Your Enthusiasm is an American television sitcom produced and broadcast by HBO since October 15, 2000 and created by Larry David, who stars as a semi-fictionalized version of himself. It follows David's 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 Greene, Susie Essman as Jeff's wife Susie, and J.B. Smoove as his roommate Leon Black. It often features celebrity guest stars, many of them playing fictionalized versions of themselves, including Ted Danson, Richard Lewis, Wanda Sykes, Rosie O'Donnell, and Jon Hamm.

Contents

As with Seinfeld , which David co-created, the humor of Curb Your Enthusiasm often revolves around the minutiae of everyday social life . Each episode's plot and subplot is established in an outline written by David, and the dialogue is largely improvised by the actors, [2] a technique known as retroscripting.

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. It was shot as a mockumentary, where the characters were aware of the presence of cameras and a crew. The series, while not in documentary form, was shot in a somewhat similar cinéma vérité-like style. [2]

Curb Your Enthusiasm received high critical acclaim and has grown in popularity since its debut. It has been nominated for 47 Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Comedy Series for nine of its eleven seasons. It won the 2002 Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy. [3] It aired for eight mostly consecutive seasons until 2011, and resumed with a ninth season in 2017. The tenth season aired in 2020 and the eleventh season in 2021. [4] In August 2022, HBO renewed the series for a twelfth season. [5]

Premise

Larry David has explained the show's name 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. [6]

The series stars Larry David as a 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 Larry maintains an office, he is rarely shown working. Episodes frequently center on Larry's ignorance of or disregard for well-established social conventions and expectations, and his insistence that others adhere to rules of which only he seems to be aware. This social ineptitude, combined with his inability to let even the most minor grievance or annoyance go unexpressed, often leads him into awkward social situations and draws the ire of his friends, family, and total strangers. He is also routinely the victim of labyrinthine misunderstandings wherein people think he has done something immoral or disgusting.

For most of the series, the Larry David character is living a married, child-free life in Los Angeles with his wife Cheryl (Cheryl Hines). David's main confidant on the show is his manager and friend Jeff Greene (Jeff Garlin). Susie Essman plays Susie Greene, Jeff's short-tempered wife, who is frequently at odds with Larry. Many of the show's frequent guest stars are celebrities and public figures, who will usually play fictionalized versions of themselves. Among the more frequently recurring guest stars are Larry'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 featured throughout most of the episodes in season 8.

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. The series took a prolonged six-year hiatus, before returning for a ninth season in 2017, a tenth season in 2020, [7] and an eleventh season in 2021.

The episodes are typically named after an event, object, or person that figures prominently in the plot, similarly to how Seinfeld episodes were titled. Unrelated events woven throughout a given episode are tied into an unforced climax that resolves the storylines 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. [8] [9]

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
Special October 17, 1999 (1999-10-17)
1 10October 15, 2000 (2000-10-15)December 17, 2000 (2000-12-17)
2 10September 23, 2001 (2001-09-23)November 25, 2001 (2001-11-25)
3 10September 15, 2002 (2002-09-15)November 17, 2002 (2002-11-17)
4 10January 4, 2004 (2004-01-04)March 14, 2004 (2004-03-14)
5 10September 25, 2005 (2005-09-25)December 4, 2005 (2005-12-04)
6 10September 9, 2007 (2007-09-09)November 11, 2007 (2007-11-11)
7 10September 20, 2009 (2009-09-20)November 22, 2009 (2009-11-22)
8 10July 10, 2011 (2011-07-10)September 11, 2011 (2011-09-11)
9 10October 1, 2017 (2017-10-01)December 3, 2017 (2017-12-03)
10 10January 19, 2020 (2020-01-19)March 22, 2020 (2020-03-22)
11 10October 24, 2021 (2021-10-24)December 26, 2021 (2021-12-26)

Characters

Main cast

Larry David at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival 2.jpg
Cheryl Hines at the Tribeca Film Festival.jpg
Creator Larry David (left) stars as a fictional version of himself; he also writes the story outline for each episode. Cheryl Hines (right) portrays Larry's wife in the show. Hines also directed one episode of the show (in the tenth season).
Garlin.jpg
Susie Essman at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival.jpg
Jeff Greene is portrayed by Jeff Garlin (left), who is also an executive producer and has directed an episode. Greene's wife is portrayed by Susie Essman (right).
J. B. Smoove joined the series in season 6 as Leon Black. His character quickly became a fan favorite. JB Smoove 2014 NBC Universal Summer Press Day (cropped).jpg
J. B. Smoove joined the series in season 6 as Leon Black. His character quickly became a fan favorite.

Recurring roles

Among the show's many recurring roles, Richard Lewis, Ted Danson, and Wanda Sykes play fictionalized versions of themselves as old friends of Larry 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 6 and 7, 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. Saverio Guerra plays Mocha Joe who first appeared in season 7 and returned as Larry's nemesis in season 10.

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 who appear as fictionalized versions of themselves include Mary Steenburgen, Mel Brooks, Michael York, Martin Scorsese, Ben Stiller, Christian Slater, David Schwimmer, Rob Reiner, Rosie O'Donnell, Seth Rogen, Michael J. Fox, and the main cast of Seinfeld Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander, and Michael Richards. Notable people who filled in fictional roles include Bryan Cranston, Bob Odenkirk, Wayne Federman, Gina Gershon, Elisabeth Shue, Vince Vaughn, Bobby Lee, Frank Whaley, Kaley Cuoco, Stephen Colbert, Bill Hader and Tracey Ullman.

Reception

Critical response

SeasonCritical response
Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic
189% (9.5/10)80
2100% (9.0/10)
3100% (9.0/10)93
493% (7.6/10)88
5100% (9.0/10)91
687% (8.0/10)89
797% (8.5/10)81
892% (8.3/10)86
974% (7.1/10)74
1094% (7.5/10)78
1193% (8.4/10)89
Average92% [12] 84 [13]

Curb Your Enthusiasm has received critical acclaim, praised particularly for its writing and the actors' improvisational comedy. The show has enjoyed largely positive critical reception since its debut and has outgrown its early "cult" status.

On Metacritic, the first season of the show scored 80 out of 100 (based on 20 reviews), [14] 93 for season 3 (based on 12 reviews), [15] 88 for season 4 (18 reviews), [16] 91 for season 5 (five reviews), [17] 89 for season 6 (nine reviews), [18] 81 for season 7 (18 reviews), [19] 86 for season 8 (six reviews), [20] 74 for season 9 (10 reviews) [21] and 78 for season 10 (5 reviews). [22]

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. [23] Curb Your Enthusiasm has also received praise from Galus Australis magazine for being even more unabashedly Jewish than the Seinfeld series. [24]

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." [25]

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. [26]

In 2016, Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone ranked Curb Your Enthusiasm as the 19th greatest television series ever made. [27]

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. [28] [29]

Awards and nominations

The series has received 51 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 ten 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. [30] 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. [31] The tenth season was nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series at the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards, and the series received three further nominations in technical categories. [32]

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. [33] It has been nominated for four Screen Actors Guild Awards, two for Larry David and two for the ensemble cast. [34] [35] It has been nominated six times for the Producers Guild of America Award, winning twice in 2003 and 2005. [36] 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. [37] It has been nominated five times for the Writers Guild of America Award, winning once in 2006. [38]

Syndication

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. [39] The show debuted in syndication on local stations and WGN America in September 2010, [40] but was removed the following year due to low ratings. [41] It debuted on TV Land in February 2013. [42]

Home media

VHS release

The first season of Curb Your Enthusiasm was released on VHS in a three-volume box set. [43]

DVD releases

Curb Your Enthusiasm seasons come in a two-disc DVD set with ten episodes.

SeasonRelease datesBonus features
Region 1 [44] Region 2
1January 13, 2004May 17, 2004Commentary 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
2June 15, 2004October 18, 2004None
3January 18, 2005February 7, 200560 minutes of extras with the cast and directors at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen
4August 30, 2005September 26, 2005None
5August 1, 2006September 11, 2006"The History of Curb... so far" and "The History of Curb... even further" featurettes
6January 29, 2008June 9, 2008"A Conversation with Larry David and Susie Essman"; "On the Set: Curb Your Enthusiasm"; gag reel
7June 8, 2010June 7, 2010Rebuilding the Seinfeld sets; Larry David as George Costanza; interview with Larry David and the Seinfeld cast, and more
8June 5, 2012June 11, 2012"Leon's Guide to NYC"; roundtable discussion with Larry and the cast
1–8June 11, 2012See individual releases
9March 6, 2018March 5, 2018Cast memorable moments and deleted scenes
10July 21, 2020 [45] July 20, 2020 [46] "What Finally Broke Them"

Other media

Book

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. [47]

Music

The show is punctuated between scenes with music orchestrated by Wendell Yuponce and from a music library company called Killer Tracks. [48] 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  [ de ]. Larry David heard the music used in a bank commercial years before the show was created and thought it had a lighthearted, joyful quality. [49] An unofficial soundtrack was released by Mellowdrama Records in 2006. [50]

Documentary

The 2017 Netflix documentary film, Long Shot , revealed that raw footage from the filming of an episode for the fourth season of the show at Dodger Stadium helped to inadvertently exonerate Juan Catalan, who was accused of murder and faced the death penalty, by giving him an alibi during the time the murder was committed. [51]

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