Curb Your Enthusiasm: Season 8 created by Larry David (HBO Films)

Starring Larry David, Jeff Garlin, Cheryl Hines, and Susie Essman.

 

The Arid Wasteland of Network Television 

Seinfeld is brilliant television. Now fourteen years removed from the last episode, Seinfeld receives regular air time on multiple channels. Its staying power is uncanny. Seinfeld’s jokes and awkward situations are countlessly retold in friend groups nationwide.


In all honesty, I am surprised at Seinfeld’s staying power. With quirky writing a shade toward highbrow, I find Seinfeld’s stay on network television remarkable. The 2000s, to an extent, represent a failure of mimicry. Even though the networks endlessly search for the next smart hit comedy, the drive for profits and viewership causes plugs to be pulled. Notably, Arrested Development seemed like a show closest to carrying the Seinfeld mantle, but it lasted only three seasons.

Why did Seinfeld make it? I have no clue. But the fact that the show succeeded despite its quirkiness is laudatory.

Interestingly, with the arid wasteland of network television consuming pilot after pilot, cable television has emerged as an avenue for well-crafted television. Without the burden of high viewership requirements, cable shows realize success marketing toward a smaller target audience.

Given Larry David’s history as the co-creator of Seinfeld and his successful run on HBO with Curb Your Enthusiasm, the inevitable question arises: which David-inspired show is better?

Faux Reality Television Meets a Sit-Com 

For those unaware, Curb Your Enthusiasm follows Larry David as himself, Larry David. Somewhere between a faux reality television series and a sit-com, Larry David navigates an easy post-Seinfeld life. Flush with royalties from syndication, Larry is free to pursue and invest in anything.

Spending most of his days in the company of his agent, Jeff Greene (Jeff Garlin), Larry meanders into comedic situations through his incessant need for proper behavior. If you double park, watch out because Larry David will get you. If you want Larry to serve at a benefit for Children’s Hospital, expect a lame excuse.

In fact, this very scenario in Season 8 forces Larry to a 3-month sabbatical in New York City. Instead of a Saturday hanging out with sick children, Larry David would rather rent a lavish apartment in Manhattan for 3 months.

Much like Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm possesses no major plotline. Each episode explores a humorous topic and usually features a guest star. This year’s highlight episodes include Larry and Rosie O’Donnell competing over a bi-sexual girlfriend, Bill Buckner illustrating his butterfingers, and a feud between Larry and Michael J. Fox where the two bicker regarding the merits of Parkinson’s disease fasciculation.

In Praise of Seinfeld 

Curb Your Enthusiasm is hilarious. Since Season One, Larry David has manufactured brilliance season after season. I highly recommend it. However, David’s work with Curb Your Enthusiasm impresses me less than his work with Seinfeld.

For starters, HBO allows David to shock in ways the FCC would never permit on network television. The salty language and adult topics, in all honesty, make for easier humor. When all else fails, swear and sex!

Additionally, the premium nature of HBO gives Curb Your Enthusiasm a longer leash. I didn’t start watching the show until Season Four and I assume there are many like me who jumped into the back catalog through Netflix. Had this show required a large audience quickly, I doubt it would have survived.

For this reason, I am still floored with Seinfeld. The show beat the odds and now exists as the bedrock of American culture. Is Curb Your Enthusiasm less funny than Seinfeld? I think they are equally funny, in truth. I just find Seinfeld the more impressive show given all the variables.

Having spent some time comparing these two shows, let me end by saying Curb Your Enthusiasm is worth your time. It’s a brilliant show for fans of Seinfeld or awkward humor—think The Office. If you’re looking to rent a television series over the summer, check out Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Verdict: 4 out of 5

What about you? Are you a fan of Seinfeld? How do you think it compares to Curb Your Enthusiasm?
Share your thoughts below.

Posted by: Donovan Richards
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