For a while this season I felt that Curb Your Enthusiasm had jumped the shark. (No huge spoilers here, btw.) Or probably that’s the wrong phrase in its suggestion of a Rubicon-crossing into sudden badness; more a sinking into repetitive tics and self-indulgence of some of the show’s worst qualities. Is it possible that every episode this season involved someone trying to get money out of Larry, especially in the form of a tip? It happened so frequently that you have to assume there was self-awareness about it, but really, could I care less about how hard it is for LD to have every waiter and coffee guy expecting a $20 tip from him at every moment? And the drive for edginess/envelope-pushing in regards to race and disability was often painful. Although I did like the running joke about Larry’s baldness as an identity category.
In the end though I did find the Seinfeld reenactment/reunion to be somewhat irresistible and fun. It was great just to see Larry and Jerry riffing on random stuff together. And as a viewer, I felt a bit as Cheryl apparently did: it had gotten tedious to witness Larry always moping around as a bored rich man at loose ends; it was invigorating to see him actually at work trying to produce something, and to have the purposeful action that creates Curb Your Enthusiasm itself seep into the plot of the show. That is, there was always a (initially productive) tension in Curb in that its main topic is Larry’s dilemma after he’s made his fame and fortune with Seinfeld; what should he do now? Of course what he actually did was create a smaller, semi-improvised premium-cable show, but we could never see that in the show itself, which ended up spinning off endless and often redundant riffs on the minutiae of Larry’s aimless, spoiled existence and his Honeymooners- esque fights with neighbors and associates, etc.
So, there was a kind of satisfying formal logic to the way this season wound up in Larry “putting on a show” once again. (Echoing the Producers plot of a couple seasons ago.) And also perhaps to the way he finally backs away, once again, from a life of purposeful action and employment. Although I don’t agree with those who found Larry performing as George Constanza sublime; Larry’s “bad acting” is just too… bad, I think.
I don’t think Cheryl made the right call at the end, though.
p.s. For those who know me well, the reason I watched the show as it screened was that I got a fortuitously timed three free months of HBO.