Did you watch “The Simpsons” last night? I did, and about halfway through I had a weird and difficult-to-categorize feeling that I was only later able to identify as shock that the episode did not entirely suck. I’m not making any claims for its greatness, mind you, but it was one of the few times in the last, say, ten years where I saw a new “Simpsons” episode and thought, Well, wow, that wasn’t terrible.
Which brings me to “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
I was slow to warm to “Curb Your Enthusiam.” It probably took me until the second season, with its “Survivor” joke, before I finally got on board. I know plenty of people who can’t stand it, because the humor can be off-putting or downright annoying, depending, but whatever, it worked for me. For that reason I thought the last season’s finale-with Larry a full member of the Black family-was almost the perfect way to end the series, because it was so unexpected and not in keeping with the rest of the show. It was the perfect absurd capstone.
So I was already predisposed to dislike this season. It seemed a little too meta, in that, like “Seinfeld,” it was a show past its prime going back for another bite of the apple. (I also have a theory that every episode of “Curb” is a direct analogy to an episode of “Seinfeld,” but lord knows it will take someone with much more fortitude and interest than I to get tangled up in those weeds.) And, at least for the first half, I was considerably less amused than I had been previously. The show was trying too hard, Larry was too obnoxious, the scenarios were too outlandish, etc.
But the last couple episodes, with the “Seinfeld” reunion, were indeed some of the funniest television I’ve seen this year. And they managed to do something I would have thought impossible: They made me rethink my distaste for Jerry Seinfeld and his eponymous show. What to me was one of the more interesting aspects of “Curb” was the way that it seemed to be Larry David’s claim to the legacy of “Seinfeld,” i.e., “Everyone thinks the show was all Jerry, but really, look how much of it was me.” It’s like Keith Richards’ first solo record (Talk Is Cheap, 1988), where you’re all, “Oh, right, THAT GUY. I knew he was good, but I had no idea how much of the sound came straight from him.”) What has been absolutely amazing about the end run of this “Curb” season is the way that Jerry Seinfeld, appearing on Larry David’s show, has been able to present himself as, yes, just as much the voice of “Seinfeld” as David. The meta is off the charts.
Watching the episode-within-an-episode last night, hearing all the familiar “Seinfeld” cadences, really made me wonder: Why do I hate “Seinfeld” so much? I mean, I liked it when it was on. It was certainly fresh for its time. Is it the endless repetition, the fact that you are more than likely to flip past it at least three times a night? It it some kind of reverse nostalgia against the nineties? Whatever the reason, last night’s “Curb” finale made me reconsider.
But let’s end it here, shall we? I mean, how are you gonna have a better series capper than that?