The end of yet another era of a television legend begins tonight, and I sometimes get the feeling that even feeling a bit of remorse about it would be considered triggering for the person who created it.
But, he said channeling his best Susie Greene, F**k You, Larry.
Whether you like it or not, you’re gonna take a few bows and a victory lap, even in your somewhat out-of-date $180 Eccos.
You managed to make 12 seasons of unforgettable comedy, three more than SEINFELD made, and you stayed twice as long as you did there. And you somehow convinced several regimes of HBO to allow you to do it over a quarter-century, on your own terms, at your own pace, whenever your heart, your schedule and your irrefutably brilliant mind moved you to do that. Good Lord, GAME OF THRONES wasn’t even able to dictate those kind of terms.
You’ve been producing original episodes since the start of the 21st century. When CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM began in 2000, HBO was exclusively linear; the term had not even been fully acknowledged. The show was a cherry on the sundae that defined Sundays, what with THE SOPRANOS, SEX AND THE CITY and THE WIRE also in rotation. You perfected the concept of doing a series via retroscripting, which undoubtedly lead to greater cost-efficiencies (fewer writers) than SEINFELD ever produced. Much like THE SIMPSONS, you turned a one-off special into a series based on the demand and the unique way you defined comedy it sparked among fans who sorta knew you from SEINFELD and the more discerning HBO-files who appreciated your way of shooting in a “mockumentary” style. How do I know these kind of details? I heard those very words from focus group participants when FX was attempting its own attempt at comedy, the freshmanic brainchild of Howard Stern called SON OF THE BEACH. That show had writers, and they couldn’t hold a candle to what you and your cohorts were turning out that we were constantly being compared to. After three struggling seasons where SOB’s ratings declined and CYE’s cultural impact blossomed, FX changed directions and went the drama route. I think we both came out better off in the end.
When the show began you were merely playing a cantankerous, crotchety, socially awkward person whose persona you yourself best described in a recent publicity release about the final season (which begins tonight) which FOX NEWS ‘ Brie Stimson regurgitated:
“As Curb comes to an end, I will now have the opportunity to finally shed this ‘Larry David’ persona and become the person God intended me to be – the thoughtful, kind, caring, considerate human being I was until I got derailed by portraying this malignant character,” David said in a recent statement about the end of the show.
David was barely into his 50s when CURB began. Now, at 76, he really IS an old, crotchety, cantankerous man, at least according to some who have had to negotiate with him. But on the other hand, you don’t get the chance to experience true genius for nothing. And to somehow be able to be as consistently creative and crisp crossing multiple generations and audience segments, all the while giving the middle finger to anything that qualified as trendy, quirky or conventional, across this many years, you earned every single penny of it. And contrary to that toxic persona you so expertly have portrayed, you actually have coughed up a few of them for causes and people you believe in. I know a couple of schools and charities who have “ratted” you out in gratitude.
That’s probably in part why people can give you the license to be who you are. Someone who can attack Elmo and yet somehow manage to wind up in bed with someone like Cheryl Hines. And yet, someone we still look forward to spending time with every once in a while.
At a time when the HBO brand is in second position to MAX and where the fate of the company is in the hands of a cost-cutting curmudgeon whose REAL persona is reportedly even more “malignant” that your character’s, perhaps it is the right time to break up the gang. You’ve got a new wife in real life. Jeff Garlin’s got fantasy sports. Richard Lewis has bigger issues to deal with (please stay well, sir). Cheryl Hines gets to go on the campaign trail with a Kennedy.
So I won’t cry, much as I’d like to, lamenting the loss of yet another tentacle to a past that’s growing increasingly distant. A consistency and connection to more popular and encouraging days, as opposed to those that lie ahead where Cheryl’s hubby almost seems like a viable option to lead the free world in spite of his own issues (maybe that’s why she didn’t mind being cast as someone who’d marry your “persona”?).
But I will brave the rain to grab a Latte Larry and an Extra Dry Scone in tribute to you later today. The price (free) is appealing. But the memories now and then are priceless.
You were (and are) pretty…pretty…pretty…pretty great.
Until next time…