Lockdown Binge #4: Curb Your Enthusiasm

Our writers tell us what TV series are getting them through being stuck in their houses – and this one's from the master of self-isolation

Curb Your Enthusiasm

Stuck indoors, looking to pass the time but not sure which TV show to watch next? Well, there’s one series which immediately sticks out like a pants tent as being the perfect bingewatch: Curb Your Enthusiasm.

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Here’s why you should take a lesson from the master of self isolation, Larry David.

What’s Curb Your Enthusiasm about?

HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm follows the extraordinary life of a fictionalised version of Larry David, the man who co-created Seinfeld.

Having partially retired from television writing, Larry finds himself in more unusual situations than you can shake a stick at – and the outcomes are always hilarious. Be it an unfortunate typo in the episode ‘Beloved Aunt’ (you can join the dots…) or the creation of a musical about the life of Larry David and the death sentence on his head, there’s never a dull day in the life of our kind of hero.

Throughout the show’s 10 seasons, Larry and his showbiz pals Jeff Garlin, Cheryl Hines, Richard Lewis and Ted Danson navigate their fictional lives in Los Angeles and Larry finds himself in socially awkward situations which are almost too embarrassing to watch. Almost.

The situation comedy also boasts a wealth of special celebrity guest stars, such as Ricky Gervais, Jimmy Kimmel, David Schwimmer, Mel Brooks, Salman Rushdie and Jon Hamm to name but a few.

How long is it?

To date, there’s a whopping 101 episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm, split between 10 seasons. It first aired with a one-off special in October 1999 with season one following the year after.

Each episode is roughly 30 minutes long, so with our estimate, it will take you around 50 hours and 30 minutes to binge the entire series. So you best get started ASAP!

There have been rumours of an 11th season, but that hasn’t yet been confirmed.

Where can I watch it?

Curb Your Enthusiasm in its entirety is available to watch right now on Sky as a box set.

Seasons 1-9 are available on NOW TV.

Why should I watch Curb Your Enthusiasm?

Although it’s been on the air since 1999, I first saw Curb Your Enthusiasm way back in 2012, when I’d just started university and needed some light relief from all those “studious” Fresher’s Week activities. At just 30 minutes an episode, and people telling me multiple times how much I would love this show, it seemed rude not to give it a go.

Episode one of season one starts with Larry and his fictional wife Cheryl (Cheryl Hines) debating the horror of a pants tent – the shape a zipper makes in trousers when one sits down. What on earth was I watching? But of course, this being Curb Your Enthusiasm, an awkward situation arose out of that tiny moment of observational comedy causing an almighty kerfuffle with Cheryl’s friend in a darkened cinema where that tent appeared to be more… I could barely watch. But also, I couldn’t tear my eyes away.

Curb Your Enthusiasm

The beauty of Curb Your Enthusiasm is found in the simplicity of it all. Half fly-on-the-wall mockumentary, half improvised comedy, each episode starts with a relatively small situation that quickly spirals out of control to the point of absurdity. Somehow, none of this ever feels too far-fetched, and maybe that’s down to our lead character.

Curb’s Larry is a man who you really wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of, but who you’d love to be a part of your life, especially right now. He’s a paranoid germaphobe – aren’t we all these days? – and he will always ensure you have the best table in the restaurant. He will certainly enforce a fair payment system where you all split the bill and the tip equally. Hurrah! A man who speaks truth to power!

Larry’s rules become the rolling theme of the show and sure, some of them seem ridiculous, but who hasn’t yearned for social interactions like Larry has? His iconic “Stop and Chat” refusal is honestly relatable and yes, we all grumble if we have a wonky table. But Larry sorts it out. He steps forward and busts people trying to do a “chat and cut”. An icon, really.

I was hooked from the beginning, but it was season one, episode eight ‘Beloved Aunt’ which really showcases what a horrifying, hysterical show Curb Your Enthusiasm can really be. When Larry is tasked with penning an obituary for Cheryl’s aunt, an unfortunate typo sees him kicked out of the wake. Curb doesn’t do things by half – it uses the strongest swear word in the English language in the most awkward and taboo situation. I can’t think of another comedy that could get away with this, yet bold and cheeky Larry can, with remarkable ease.

Curb Your Enthusiasm season 1, episode 8 'Beloved Aunt'
Curb Your Enthusiasm season 1, episode 8 ‘Beloved Aunt’

What’s more, the later seasons include convincing wider arcs, be it a musical (or two), or Larry donating a kidney with disastrous consequences. What was once a fly-on-the-wall-type series becomes more of a snapshot in a month of Larry’s life. And it makes the finale episodes bigger and better. There’s even a pleasant Seinfeld reunion which makes for pleasing viewing.

But what really captured my imagination was the random and genius inclusions of special guests. Curb becomes even more magical with the unlikely friendship in season six onwards between Leon Black (J.B. Smoove) and Larry – a comedy pairing which is still going in the 10th seeason. Crass, bold as brass and hysterically funny, Leon never fails to bring a smile to my face and his arrival transports Curb to a new level of comedy. Jon Hamm pops up in season 10 and can do a mean Larry David impression, while Michael J Fox uses his Parkinson’s diagnosis as a comedic set-up for one of the most cringeworthy encounters with Larry ever.

A particular highlight of mine falls in season four, when Mel Brooks offers Larry the chance to star as Max Bialystock in a new adaptation of The Producers, opposite first Ben Stiller and later David Schwimmer as Leopold Bloom. Full of awkward moments and uncomfortable blunders, season four is perhaps the peak of Curb Your Enthusiasm and if you make it through the whole 10 episodes without hiding behind your hands, you’ve got a stronger nerve than me.

Curb Your Enthusiasm season 4

It’s quite difficult to list all the reasons you should watch Curb Your Enthusiasm. But in these uncertain times, it’s nice to have some order in my life that I can only really get from Larry. By the time you get to season 10, you know exactly what’s going to push his buttons and it’s strangely comforting knowing that Larry’s morals haven’t changed since 1999.

Pandemic or no pandemic, Larry would never be wishing you a happy birthday if he misses you on the day. And there’s some decent lessons to be learned too: if you want someone to socially distance from you, simply don a MAGA hat. Though maybe that’s not for everyone…

After recommending it to almost everyone I can think of in my own life, perhaps the most fitting tribute I can pay to it here is the most simple: it’s pretty good. Pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good.

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Curb Your Enthusiasm is available to watch now on SkyGo and NOWTV. If you’re looking for more to watch check out our TV guide.