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tv: curb your enthusiasm, undeclared
by Yee-Fan Sun
| 1 2 

As all our favorite TV shows start unveiling their season finales, weíre heading into the summer re-run stretch. But why resort to re-runs when you can watch whatever old show you want, whenever you want, thanks to the miracle of DVD? If youíre looking for something light but not fluffy, amusing yet smart, check out these two TV shows on DVD. Both find their laughs in the awkwardness of ordinary life -- so painful itís funny, so funny it hurtsÖ

o o o

curb your enthusiasm
Starring: Larry David, Cheryl Hines, Jeff Garlin
Season 1
| Season 2 | Season 3 | Season 4 | Season 5

Curb Your Enthusiasm stars an LA comedian/writer by the name of Larry David, in a semi-fictionalized version of his own life. Davidís best known as the guy who created Seinfeld, and like that 90s classic, Curb Your Enthusiasm is a wickedly funny show about a not-particularly-nice guy going about the nothing special of his day-to-day life. Granted Larryís life isnít exactly you-and-me normal so much as LA-wealthy normal. His oldest friend is comedian Richard Lewis, who frequently shows up to kvetch with Larry; he hangs out with Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen (though heís not so blasť as to be completely un-awed by this celebrity friendship); he has a fat, obscenely wealthy agent named Jeff and a slim, beautiful blond wife named Cheryl, who devotes her time to environmental charity work. Itís a good life by most folksí standards, marked by luxury, comfort and success, yet cantankerous oddball Larry still has an uncanny knack for making a mess of all the good fortune thatís handed to him, pissing off family, friends, and complete strangers on a regular basis to absurdly comic effect. Quirky, a little petty, and prone towards working himself into a lather over things that normal folks let roll off them, Larry quickly reveals himself to be a sort of George Costanza-Jerry Seinfeld hybrid. 

Though in some ways, Curb Your Enthusiasm could be seen as the show that picks up where Seinfeld left off (it even features cameos by Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Jason Alexander), itís actually a ground-breaking series in its own right, and incredibly inventive in the way it blurs the lines between reality and fiction. Many of the actors, like David, simply play themselves; other characters, like wife Cheryl and manager Jeff, are more or less made up. (Itís actually a little more complicated than that even; though wife Cheryl is indeed played by an actress named Cheryl Hines, she isn't  Davidís real-life wife, whose name isn't Cheryl at all.) Thereís a freewheeling, realistic feel to each of the episodes too, thanks to the showís improvisational construction (each script provides a detailed description of the story, but itís up to the actors to wing the dialogue); this makes each episodeís conclusion, in which all the elements of the story suddenly add up to some hilarious and utterly perfect punchline -- generally at Larry Davidís expense -- all the more sublime. True, Larry David the character is crabby, irrational, selfish, and painfully socially inept, but how do you not love an actor/comedian whoís willing to make himself look so bad to create a show thatís this good? Larry the character is always doing things that make you cringe in embarrassment, even as youíre guffawing out loud; heís such a crazy, difficult character that itís hard to watch more than a couple of episodes in one sitting. Which is fine, as it provides the perfect excuse to stretch out the laughs, and let that peculiar Larry David brand of charm grow on you.

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