CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM created by Larry David, with David, Cheryl Hines and Jeff Garland. Season six premieres Sunday (September 9) at 8:30 pm on TMN. Rating: NN
Tell me something. Why the hell do you find Larry David so damn funny? Seriously, he's about as amusing as a kick in the crotch.
Yes, I know watching a man get kicked in the crotch can be hilarious. Thank you, America's Funniest Home Videos, for driving that point into the ground. But I'm talking about actually getting kicked in the crotch. By a construction worker. It's just painful.
David was the co-creator of Seinfeld and the inspiration for George Costanza, a selfish, petty boob of the highest boobage. And he was funny or, at least Jason Alexander's portrayal was funny. Mind you, watching Seinfeld reruns now, I'm beginning to wonder what all the fuss was about. Art Vandalay? Shrinkage? Barely sponge-, ah, smirk-worthy if you ask me.
The original lord of the idiots, David has since taken his 44DD boobery on to his own successful - others would say groundbreaking - sitcom.
But my enthusiasm for Curb Your Enthusiasm is beyond curbed. It's constrained. It's contained. It's corked up. It's bridled, muzzled, shackled and subdued. It's fettered. Yep, that's what it is, it's fettered. (Thank you, dictionary.com.)
Curb casts David as himself, or a Grinch-like version of himself, living off his Seinfeld ducats in L.A. ("I've got ideas for shows but I choose not to carry them out," he says proudly.) I can only hope his unique variety of virulent misanthrope shtick is exactly that, a shtick, and that his heart really isn't three sizes too small.
But I have my doubts. He inhabits the hostile, noxious narcissist role too well for it to be entirely an act. He's not just prickly - he's a prick, precisely the kind of person who would steal cake from a blind man's dessert plate.
Of course, that's entirely the point. Partly improvised, with celebrity guests who frequently play themselves, including Seinfeld alums Alexander and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, the show intentionally blurs the line between fiction and reality.
We're supposed to squirm at David's unapologetic self-righteousness and selfish everyman pettiness. We're also supposed to laugh. But I never do.
I should find his raging political incorrectness refreshing, only it comes across as a bit too spot-on, too genuine. I like off-colour humour as much as the next white guy, but David's insults toward lesbians, African Americans, the disabled and just about any other visible minority make me cringe.
So if David is so despicable, and it's hard to deny that he's not, then I'm left wondering why so many seem to find him likeable. I mean, somebody's watching the show.
And then I realize that if there's anything that humanizes David, it's his long-suffering and smartly dismissive wife, played by Cheryl Hines. She's like his conscience and his confessor, putting up with his tantrums and revenge schemes against those he feels have wronged him. In the season six opener, she talks Larry into adopting the Blacks, a family displaced by a hurricane. She's also hot and smart and if she thinks he's okay, then maybe we should, too.
But I'm still not buying it. Curb Your Enthusiasm isn't a show about nothing, but there's nothing in it to keep me coming back.
What to watch this week
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 9
SPACED (comedy) A few months ago I wrote about this charming slacker Britcom from the guys who made Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz. At the time, it was only available on import DVD from the UK. Well, Showcase has picked up the broadcast rights, and fans of Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and company can see the genesis of their big-screen comedies, with enough pop culture send-ups to keep every geek glued to the TV.
10 pm on Showcase