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{{ Am I the only one ... uncomfortable with Curb Your Enthusiasm, who doesn't think it's the great holy untouchable masterpiece everyone and their press agent claims it is?

I spent weeks sitting through it willing myself to like it, to LAUGH at it the way I did at Seinfeld, but I never did; instead I just got more and more p'd off at it and tired of the template. Breaking point came - ironically enough - with the current More4 ad, that put it all in a nutshell for me: the one where his wife and friends all say to Larry: WHY WOULD YOU SAY/THINK/DO THAT? Well - why would he? And -
would he? He's a sharp Jewish comedian/writer/actor, who's got his wings in New York and L.A. - hard cities to crack, (and even harder cities to stay top in), two of the most socially codified cities in the Western world. And yet - week after week after week after week after week after week - the show is ENTIRELY spun around the same unvarying premise: in any (or rather, in EVERY) given situation, Larry does or says the one thing you shouldn't do or say. OK - it's a comedy, not some hard hitting off-Broadway statement; but you can't have it both ways, and most of the praise is of how socially accurate and truth-telling a comedy of manners it supposedly is...

It's well made, in a sub-Altman kinda way, and I don't even mind that it relies way too much on comedy of embarrassment. More to the point is that its cheerleaders all forward it as some great fearless TRUTH telling exercise, when it's really smug and self consciously outre and wholly hypocritical inside its Hol(l)ywood shell... it tries to have its 'truth telling' realism
and eat its Hollywood-buddies organic cake at the same time. Not a patch on Father Ted - who may be less 'real' and more surreal, but he's likable even at his worst whereas I increasingly think "Larry" is just a tiresome self-involved conceited boor.}}

posted by Ian 2/05/2006 08:47:00 PM

he's not supposed to be likeable is he? it has got a bit boring though.
yeah - like - i do know he's MEANT to be too "self involved conceited" etc, but there's a point where the sympathy we have even for a Fawlty or a Hancock (who are also those things) stops, because there's no apparent basis for Larry's unrelieved awfulness... whereas Father Ted and Fawlty and Hancock are prickly and short tempered and pretentious ebcause they're trapped somewhere which they think is below their true worth/station/class... Larry has 'made it', and then some, and treats everyone badly just because ...well apparently just because there wouldnt be a (mono dimensional) comedy of manner without it. yes: manner, not manners. i mean: in the end: i just dont ever out loud LAUGH, i realised. i'm always crininging, admiring, doing that 'hmmppf' half laugh... but true release never comes.
LOVE My Name Is ~Earl btw - and also (less so, but still some) The IT Crowd, which I expected to loathe given the advance press it's got
I dunno, stamping on the rabbi's hand made me laugh out loud
hey ian, when i moved to london about 4 years ago to join my supposed d.i.y./fanzine friends in "changing the world", i spent the whole time walking around like larry, being told by everyone: "you can't say that, you can't do that, you can't wear that", whilst a lot of them were publishing fanzines about their varied neuroses, kinks and so on as if they were profound political acts, whilst telling me i was an 'ill-educated hick' because i was 'too interested' in music and not ramming my "bohemian" lifestyle down others' throats. so even though i don't watch it anymore, and feel it has come to the end of its fallibility, many of larry's sentiments in that show have helped me develop a humour about those goddamn depressing years.
There's no doubt that Curb has got progressively less amusing with each series, to the extent that series 4 virtually left comedy behind altogether in favour of cringe and squirm-fests.

But I don't have a problem with that - it just needs to be embraced on its own terms as 30 minutes of fantastically absorbing TV. Instead though it's been constantly over-sold by its adherents as the funniest, smartest etc comedy ever when it's clearly aspiring to something far more subtle (and psychologically richer) than that. I wouldn't want to make *too* much of this but at one point in the "beloved cunt" episode (surely the best CYE ever apart from the self-hated Jew masterpiece) Larry starts muttering to himself "can't go on... must go on..."

Larry David has referred to the "Larry David" character as the sociopath he could never be (because of social conditioning/pressure etc) but the weird thing is, I don't generally find his behaviour that appalling at all. (Uh-oh). His ordeals are invariably trigggered by him uncovering (and then picking away at) the fissures in everyday life between what constitutes "acceptable" behaviour and the illogical/arbitrary premises underlying them which society normally papers over. Which is why I *do* find myself sympathising with Larry because he's frequently "right" (why *should* he move into the front of Ben Stiller's car?) and "wrong" (he's transgressing social codes).

Nobody seems to have a good word to say about this but I rather liked it:

That should've been "self-hating", natch...
But I cant get over the feeling that there are far DUMBER (on the surface) comedies that are actually far "smarter" in the way they manipulate us thru all sorts of taboo and don't-look grossness or taboo-busting - and still get us (or me) to the LAFF too. (The Farrelly Bros can get wise-ass middle class aesthetes like me and certain friends I know hysterical with silly-kid laughter, whereas I get the sneaky feeling Curb just PLAYS to a certain faux intellectual elitism...?) The last series of Curb took a WHOLE SERIES of bickering predictability to get to its ONE GOOD PAY OFF (the final episode when The Producers is actually performed) - which, in macro, is my problem with it in micro.
Rather than micro-textual analysis of 'self hating Jew' subtexts, it might be more profitable (for me, anyway) to ask why I found Seinfeld so fantastic and Curb so disappointing... and Seinfeld (with George-as-Larry, Jerry and Elaine must be one of the most "Jewish" sitcoms - svitcoms? - EVER, really, in tone and cut and thrust and trajectory and sub plots... ?
Larry at his best exposes the hypocisy of a certain kind of hyper elite liberalism that festers on each of the coasts. He mocks the absurd narcissistic politics, the posturing on race&sex,and the airtight bubble of money that these people live in. when he's good he's the happy nihlist who knows"you can't leave your house..."
I mean don't get me wrong - I don't think it's a BAD show; as I said before I spent a lot of viewing time "admiring" it...
I've just been carrying around this guilty bafflement, wondering if I was alone in that I never really forgot or transcended the admiration and flat out GUFFAWED...
i felt similar guilt to actively disliking 'six feet under', since it appeared that everyone in the universe liked it, and i found it to be over-pensive bollocks.
Must admit it's almost the reverse for me re: Seinfeld and Curb. I kinda politely smiled along with Seinfeld, but Curb really gets me. I'm with (one of the?) Anonymouses (Anonymi?) --- the beloved cunt ep is laugh out loud funny if anything is ---- also, Larry's behaviour is often appalling because it will get him into trouble, not because it is reprehensible or wrong --- the things he does are, yes, what you shouldn't do --- but 'should' here is the 'should' of etiquette/ conformity to symbolic protocol or of utilitarian calculation --- the fact Larry has made it is precisely why he is able to flout all those petty conventions that are nevertheless so micro-socially important --- the 'normal(ising)' checks (I'll be sacked/ my career will be over if I do this) don't apply --- thing is, what's the point of being rich and successful if you DON'T act like Larry? Larry is the heroic psychotic, he who simply cannot/ does not recognize the symbolic order...
re. 'seinfeld': laffs aplenty, but is it superficial to say i can't get over the incroyable '80s ugliness of the thing?! 'curb' is easier on the eye, and i think if you watch it *as* a farrelly-style thing it comes off.
The central gag is about a brash Jewish Noo Yawker who commits the cardinal crime of still being himself in L.A. - even when all his friends are busy buying into an uptight WASP dream they can never really attain. Like most American TV, its about RACE (Friends and Ally McBeal seem to be meditations on whiteness, after all). I reckon most of its (older, male) fans realise the TRAGEDY of never being something you 'should' be. - AGUIRRE ANON
More on CYE. If you mix in diverse social spaces, you recognise the pain and amusement of never getting 'their' rules (even your own familys), and the way EVERYONE has oh-so-much to be offended by (check out those cartoon avengers - it's like a fractal CYE plot - even with a subplot of antisemitism!). Seinfeld was a show about nothing. CYE, richer and more aggressive, is about bullshit. A subtle distinction. AGUIRRE ANON
About how 'racialised' US film and TV is, I have a running game with my brother where we (usually correctly) guess who dies/gets crippled/is arrested first in any show or movie. No prizes for guessing which race gets it first (the influence of DW Griffith on US narrative? Discuss). I find almost all US cop shows (even the 'quality' ones) unwatchable for their central theme: 'white man's burden'. But hey, 100 years of racist movies and then TV seems nothing when compared with half a page of cartoons....
So anyway, Larry is on his way to making Mel Brooks' (and Richard Pryor's) mistake - taking the racial 'edge' out of his humour and turning it into a 'schtick' - look how much Mel's films started to suck when he made himself the lead (instead of the often 'serious' actors he once used). Larry's running jokes are making a similar mistake - losing the darker corners of the gags aside in favour of being 'cute'. And since when was racial alienation 'cute'? It's 'white' TV that seems to have that mission... AGUIRRE ANON
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