James Walton

How does Larry David get away with it? Curb Your Enthusiasm reviewed

Plus: watch a toy bear swearing and using mild racial slurs on Sky Max

Larry David and J. B. Smoove (as Leon Black) in Season 12 of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Image: © Home Box Office, Inc.

As Curb Your Enthusiasm begins its 12th and apparently final series, one key question remains: how does Larry David get away with it? While many entertainers are sent into exile for ancient tweets far less tasteless than the average episode of Curb, the show sails on – providing extended comic riffs on incest victims, Holocaust survivors and even fat women, while enjoying pretty much universal acclaim.

I don’t know how Larry David gets away with it – but I’m still very grateful that he does

Perhaps it helps that the jokes are funny – and that many of them are on David. You could also argue that his heartlessness about say, the bereavements of people he doesn’t know (and some that he does) is only an unusually honest version of our own. Nonetheless, the feeling persists that he’s mysteriously been given a free pass, the world having decided that he’s someone to whom the normal rules don’t apply.

And this, I’d suggest, is one of the many reasons why the show is such a delight. It’s not just a beautifully constructed, constantly inventive sitcom, but also a much needed holiday from the censoriousness we’re forced to live through most of the time – not least because David never seems to be deliberately causing offence so much as being indifferent to the notion of offensiveness.

For anybody who’s managed to miss Curb over the past 24 years, David plays a version of himself he refers to as ‘TV Larry’ who’s still extremely rich from having created Seinfeld and still the model for George in that show: neurotic, spiteful, obsessed with the tiniest of everyday problems. (Even David’s wealth, incidentally, doesn’t appear to be held against him.) At the same time, he somehow comes across as an everyman – or maybe an everyolderman, sometimes angry, sometimes just bewildered at the strange modern world he finds himself in.

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