Curb Your Enthusiam – an in Depth Analysis Essay
Curb Your Enthusiam – an in Depth Analysis
In the year 2000, the legendary comedian, Larry David ,created curb Your Enthusiasm. It is a comedy television series produced by HBO about Larry David, starring Larry David himself. He plays himself as a retired comedian producer and writer. The show follows him through his day to day life, which frequently puts him in awkward situations as he often gets annoyed with the status qua and normal social situations. Larry is extremely vocal about his irritations, involving not only him, but the other characters on the show.
The show depicts an unflinching, self-deprecating depiction of his life and the lives of his family and friends. The show is called Curb Your Enthusiasm because Larry David feels that most people live their lives by means of false enthusiasm. He thinks they do this in order to give off the impression that “we are better than you”. Larry also called the show Curb because he did not want his audience to expect too much from the show following seinfelds enormous success. Curb eventually became one of the most critically acclaimed television series, reaping in numerous awards and fans.
There are many versatile characters on Curb Your Enthiusiasm, which makes the show extremely dynamic. His wife and eventually ex wife, Cheryl, played by Cheryl Hines is usually Larrys voice of reason. She often guides Larry in the right direction of the social norms, and vociferously expresses her annoyance with him on his many social faux passe. Larrys best friend, Jeff Greene, played by Jeff Garlin, is another major influence on Larry’s character. He is known to be without morals and scruples, paying little regard to the fact that he is married and with a child.
Many times, Jeff gets Larry involved in his infidelities, constantly building to Larrys own drama. His wife, Susie Green , played by Susie Essman, is a bully. She is constantly putting down her husband,Larry, and friends, often using profanity and sheer uncouth behavior. Although she has a foul mouth, she walks on the straight path of morality versus her husband and Larry. Last but not least, Larry himself. Larry is an uncivilized, crude, and neurotic individual. He usually has good intentions, but they are blinded by his selfish and stubborn personality.
He is not shy about his thical principles and morals, and continuously voices his opinion when a situation does not go his way. Generally, he initiates his situations on petty details, which snowball into major issues and dilemmas. He pursues what he perceives to be the right path, although the social norms may dictate something else entirely. His actions continuously lead him into awkward, entertaining, and side splitting situations which he is persistent about correcting. His misjudgments are so extraordinary that Larry David created a place for himself in pop culture termed a “Larry David Moment”: an extremely awkward social situation.
Some of Larry’s most famous indiscretions are “stopping and chatting” with acquaintances and tipping at restaurants. Larry David himself is an extremely talented comedian. He, along with Jerry Seinfeld co-wrote and produced the mega popular Seinfeld. After nine seasons of Seinfeld , it was an end to an era. Seinfeld ran its last episode in 1998. In 1999, Larry produced the first Curb Your Enthusiasm. Originally It was meant to be a one time exclusive, a one hour mockumentary- when the characters are aware of the precense of the cameras and crew.
The show turned out to be a major success. The Larry David show quickly snowballed into Curb Your Enthusiasm, one of the greatest and highly acclaimed shows of all time. Television has many different popular genres, styles, and programs. Before Curb Your Enthusiasm arrived on the scene, the most popular programs from the nineties were Roseanne, Friends, Full House, Family Matters, and Everybody Loves Raymond. These television shows formed TV into new directions and defined the humor of the decade.
They were the start of television sitcoms- shortened for situation comedies. A sitcom is a show that features characters sharing the same common environment, such as a home or workplace, accompanied with jokes as part of the dialogue. Originally, sitcoms started as radio shows, but as we evolved to a television-oriented society, sitcoms acclimated as well. One of the most famous original sitcoms is I Love Lucy, known for being one of the best and most popular shows of all time. It was the first show to perform in front of a studio audience.
Lucy showed and influenced society in many ways such as the difference between the sexes. “The I Love Lucy show continued the ever-popular and age-old “battle between the sexes” scenarios. Ricky and Fred would try to “teach” the girls a lesson now and then, and vice versa. In many ways the “Ricky & Fred” team vs. The “Lucy & Ethel” team put men and women on equal ground, as the two continually schemed against one another with similar rates of successful schemes and backfired ones. This was one way for Lucy to escape the submissive housewife image with some defiance of her own.
There was a constant desire to outdo the other sex, which perhaps was a signal of the changing times and changing roles men and women would hold in the coming decades”. Sitcoms used single camera filming style, which was more practical given the visual effects used in these shows. This allowed for the careful creation of special effects and sharp editing, features which were not possible with the same finesse in a multi-camera production. Many of these programs were not filmed before live audiences, and featured a laugh track.
Jerry Seinfeld, in 1989, created Seinfield, the mega popular sitcom, known to be one of the greatest shows of all time. Seinfield follows the life and creator Jerry Seinfeld, as he lives his life using absurdism- conflict between the human tendencies to seek inherent value and meaning in life and the human inability to find any. The characters of Seinfeld have no morals, hope, ambition, and compassion. Everything they do leads to failure. The show is a show about “nothing”, meaning there is no climax or moments of pathos for any of the characters.
Curb also uses many of the same attributes. The show is based on absurdism, with the characters having little or no morals whatsoever. It is also a show about “nothing”, following the characters mundane day to day tasks. Television shows have a major cultural affect on society. Friends, for example, was so popular that its influences still affect us till this day. Of example, Rachels haircut is called “The Rachel”, Joeys catchphrase “How you doin” and the Central Perk Franchise are just a few of the cultural affects Friends had on our society.
It also changed the format of love and family, thriving on the concept that “all you need is good friends”. The sitcom depicts the idea that we can choose our family and live life in a more unconventional manner. According to pop-culture expert at the University of Buffalo, Friends is “one of those rare shows that marked a change in American culture”. Most of the Television shows that premiered when Curb Your Enthusiasm came out were complete opposites of it. For examples, shows such as Gilmore Girls, Smallville, Scrubs, and Degrassi were extremely popular.
These shows are all drama comedies, scripted, and the fictional opposite of documentary style. Another popular television show is Grey’s Anatomy. Grey’s Anatomy is a medical drama about a group of surgeons working at Seattle Grace Hospital. The show centers on Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) and her life as a resident at the hospital. In addition to her relationship with her neurosurgeon husband, Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey), and best friend Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh), it also explores her relationships with her peers and the other doctors around her.
It is filled with romantic drama and ethical dilemmas that are extremely unrealistic. The characters are also very good looking and impracticable. Curb is unique in many ways that makes it exceptionally hilarious and an instant cult classic. The show is mostly improvised, meaning that there is no real script that the show sticks to. The characters have a storyline, based off of a couple of pages written by Larry David himself. The actors then improvise their dialogue based on the story outline, direction, and their own creativity.
Unlike most other popular sitcoms, Curb has basically no writers, no script, and no rehearsal. The characters are raw, and easily believable. They do not dress in high fashions, look like models, or act like people normally would. There is no epic romances or crazy drama. The show is just Larry taking on the social scene in his own unique way. 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.
For example, in the episode The Black Swan ( season seven, episode 7) that is exactly the case. In the beginning of the episode, Larry discovers that his mothers gravestone is misspelled and vows to fix it. Larry and his buddies are then seen at the snobby golf club, which has many rules that Larry constantly breaks, including accidently killing the owners swan and other golf member and refusing to tip the waiter. At the end of the show the grave says “mother of swan killer” and Larry gets caught. The whole show ties together beautifully, with every detail eventually playing a part in the ending.
Another example of the show is Every show displays this brilliance, making it hilarious and highly enjoyable to watch. The show also uses a single camera setup. The single camera setup is generally utilized on comedy series that either require or strive for specific shots and camera angles and visual set-pieces. When the potential of the single camera filming style is fully maximized the camera movement, the way shots are composed and edited, and other directorial flourishes, will be as much a source of comedy as the behavior of the characters.
The shows asthetics are also plain and simple, making it seem as if its real life and easy to believe. This leads to the style of the show- a mockmentary. Mockumentarys are in the same style as a documentary, yet shot when the cast is fully aware that the cameras and crews are there- like a fake documentary. It is highly improvised, meaning the characters do not memorize a script and just act. They must be creative with the story and put their own “sparkle” in it.
The show is not filled with the typical dramas and unrealistic actors that other leading television series are famous for. It is therefore easily relatable and loveable. Another example using all these elements is from season eight, episide three- The Palestinian Chicken. Larry relishes his role as a “social assassin” until it becomes a liability with his friends, on the golf course and at a Palestinian restaurant. The story once again has a beginning, middle, and ends which all ties together towards the end of the episode.
Another appealing aspect to the show is its depiction of Jewish characters. 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. ” Larry’s character mirrors the “schmiel” from 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 uggest, the Jews’ precarious ethnic identity in an increasingly multicultural environment. “
Alec Berg, one of the writers for Curb and Seinfeld said, “Structure, structure, structure. Every single thing in a script must advance the plot or define a character more deeply (ideally both, in a hilarious way) or it will die in the edit”. Larry David himself is nowhere near as vivacious as the Larry David he plays onscreen. Larry lives vicariously through his character, acting as a total social piranha wherever and whenever he pleases.
He has said in an interview that, “he is my version of Superman. The character really is me, but I just couldn’t possibly behave like that. If I had my druthers, that would be me all the time, but you can’t do that. We’re always doing things we don’t want to do, we never say what we really feel, and so this is an idealized version of how I want to be. As crazy as this person is, I could step into those shoes right now, but I would be arrested or I’d be hit or whatever. I find the character to be honest. And honesty comes off as cranky or rude, I suppose.
But that character is way happier than I am. I’m cranky. He’s not cranky. I’d be much happier if I were more like him. ” He also said “From the character I play on the show? The only difference is he’s much more honest than I am. He’s brutally honest, and I am not. People seem to think that he’s cranky, I get that. I don’t see him as a curmudgeon. I just think he’s honest, and he gets in confrontations with people because he’s honest. I am not honest. Because of this very delicate, socially balanced world we live in, you can’t talk like that”.
He feels as if he is breaking through a barrier, an inhibition that he couldn’t do as himself. In conclusion, Curb Your Enthusiasm is not your average Television show. Thanks to the comedic genius, Larry David, the show has become a smash hit success, running a full eight seasons and counting. It has become part of pop culture, establishing its own terms and concepts. The use of mockumentary, absurdism, dry humor, and realism are a major part of the shows charm and success. Filled with quirky and dry humor, Curb continues to break barriers, pleasing and shocking its audience’s episode after episode.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 7 October 2016
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