Created by Larry David
Theme music composer Luciano Michelini
First episode date 15 October 2000
Program creator Larry David
98% Rotten Tomatoes
Story by Larry David
Opening theme "Frolic"
Theme song Frolic
|Genre Black comedy
Starring Larry David Jeff Garlin Cheryl Hines Susie Essman
Cast Larry David, Cheryl Hines, Jeff Garlin, Susie Essman, Richard Lewis
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, who stars as a semi-fictionalized version of himself. The series follows Larry in his life as a semi-retired television writer and producer in Los Angeles and later New York City. Also starring are Cheryl Hines as his wife, Cheryl; Jeff Garlin as his manager, 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.
- Main cast
- Recurring roles
- Notable guest appearances
- Season 1 2000
- Season 2 2001
- Season 3 2002
- Season 4 2004
- Season 5 2005
- Season 6 2007
- Season 7 2009
- Season 8 2011
- Season 9 2017
- Critical reception
- Awards and nominations
- DVD releases
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 daily 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.
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.
After season eight finished in 2011, the series went on an indefinite hiatus. In June 2016, after a five-year absence, it was announced the series would return for a ninth season, scheduled to premiere in 2017.
The series stars Larry David as an extreme fictionalized version of himself. Like the real-life David, the character is well known in the entertainment industry as the co-creator and main co-writer of the highly successful sitcom Seinfeld. For most of the series, the Larry David character is living a married-without-children life in Los Angeles with his wife, Cheryl (played by Cheryl Hines). David's main confidant on the show is his manager, Jeff Greene (played by Curb executive producer Jeff Garlin), who has a temperamental wife, 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 play themselves. These include David's longtime friend Richard Lewis as well as Ted Danson and his wife, Mary Steenburgen, who all have recurring roles as fictionalized versions of themselves.
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, most prominently in the eighth season.
Although David maintains an office, he leads a semiretired life in the series and is rarely shown working regularly, other than in season four, which centered on his being cast as the lead in the Mel Brooks musical The Producers, and in season seven, writing a Seinfeld reunion show. 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.
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 Seinfeld's phenomenal success.
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 plays Larry's father, Nat David. Bob Einstein frequently appears 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. J.B. Smoove appears as Leon Black, a member of the Black family and Larry's accidental roommate, in seasons six, seven, and eight.
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, Mel Brooks, Michael York, Martin Scorsese, Ben Stiller, Martin Short, Lucy Lawless, David Schwimmer, Shaquille O'Neal, Rosie O'Donnell, Ricky Gervais, Michael J. Fox and Tracy Pollan, Hugh Hefner, Alanis Morissette, Bill Buckner, Mookie Wilson and the main cast of Seinfeld – Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander and Michael Richards. Notable people who filled in fictional roles include Bob Odenkirk, Bea Arthur, Dustin Hoffman, Ed Asner, Sacha Baron Cohen, Stephen Colbert, Tim Meadows, Elisabeth Shue and Steve Coogan.
Curb Your Enthusiasm 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, the obligation to "stop and chat" upon meeting an acquaintance, the allowed amount of caviar one may put on a cracker at a house party, and whether a house guest needs the permission of the homeowner before taking a soft drink from the refrigerator. Others involve more significant issues, such as if and when a white person may say the racially sensitive word "nigger". And some involve the etiquette of extremely complex and unique circumstances, such as the occasion when Larry discovered at a wake that the deceased was to be buried with his favorite golf club—borrowed from Larry. Another involved Larry picking up a prostitute for the sole purpose of using the carpool lane on the freeway. In many episodes, Curb—like its predecessor Seinfeld—tied together apparently unrelated events woven throughout a given episode 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 throughout the season and culminates in a season finale that often features the return of many of the characters that appeared throughout the season.
Season 1 (2000)
The style and the characters of the show are introduced across a series of mostly isolated episodes, in one of only two seasons (along with season 8) without a major story arc.
Season 2 (2001)
Cheryl is tired of Larry not working, so he begins to develop a new television show, initially with guest stars Jason Alexander and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (George and Elaine, respectively, on Seinfeld) as themselves. But Larry's constant social faux pas ruin the chances of the show being financed by a major television network.
Season 3 (2002)
Larry invests in a restaurant enterprise that eventually opens despite many mishaps, most of which are Larry's fault.
Season 4 (2004)
Mel Brooks casts Larry as the lead in his hit musical The Producers. Cheryl also gives Larry the opportunity to have sex with another woman before their tenth anniversary as an anniversary gift.
In 2003 Juan Catalan, a resident of Los Angeles, was cleared of murder charges against a material witness (a crime eligible for capital punishment) after outtake footage shot for "The Car Pool Lane" episode showed him and his daughter attending the Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Atlanta Braves baseball game some 20 miles from the crime scene at the time of the murder, resulting in a $320,000 settlement against the City of Los Angeles. Larry David joked afterwards, "I like to tell people that I've now done one good thing in my life, albeit inadvertently."
Season 5 (2005)
Larry's friend Richard Lewis gets very ill and requires a kidney transplant. Larry is a match, but spends the season looking for other sources of a kidney for Lewis. Also in season five, Larry suspects he may be adopted and embarks on a search for his biological parents.
Season 6 (2007)
The season is built around Cheryl persuading Larry to take in a family that is left homeless after a major Gulf Coast hurricane. Later in the season, Cheryl leaves Larry, mimicking Laurie David's real-life divorce from Larry. He spends the rest of the season either fighting for her to come back or looking for another woman.
Season 7 (2009)
Season seven is centered on creating a Seinfeld reunion show with the original cast. Larry attempts to use the project as a means to reunite with Cheryl.
Season 8 (2011)
Larry remains single after his divorce. At the midpoint of the season, all the main characters travel to New York City, where the rest of the season is set.
Season 9 (2017)
On June 14, 2016, it was announced that Larry David would be returning for a ninth season of Curb Your Enthusiasm after a five-year hiatus. He announced his return: "In the immortal words of Julius Caesar, 'I left, I did nothing, I returned.'" HBO stated that production is expected to begin in fall 2016 with a planned air date of 2017. In addition to David, Garlin, Hines, Essman, Smoove and Lewis are expected to reprise their roles. Mary Steenburgen and Ted Danson will also return. Production for season 9 started on November 11, 2016.
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) and 86 for season 8 (six 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." Gillota also observed: "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."
In 2016, Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone ranked Curb Your Enthusiasm as the 19th greatest television series ever made.
Awards and nominations
The series has received a total of 39 Primetime Emmy Award nominations, winning twice for 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 seven nominations for Outstanding Comedy Series. Larry David has received five 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 series has also received five Golden Globe Award nominations and won for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy in 2003, while being nominated in 2006. 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 was also syndicated on local stations and WGN America, but has been removed from syndication from both outlets owing to low ratings. It debuted on TV Land in February 2013.
Curb Your Enthusiasm seasons come in a two-disc DVD set with ten episodes, with the exception of the release of season one encoded for region two, which contains three discs.
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.