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Curb Your Enthusiasm finale review – an absolutely perfect ending
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Curb Your Enthusiasm finale review – an absolutely perfect ending

Larry David has never been particularly good at endings. Time and time again, he has attempted to draw the curtain on Curb Your Enthusiasm. In 2005, his character died, only to be booted out of heaven by a pair of irritated angels. In 2011, the show went on extended hiatus, only to return six years later. Another death scene was filmed in 2011, but never used. Famously, David declares that each season of Curb will be the last, only to blink when it comes to actually pulling the trigger.

You can probably forgive his reticence on being definitive, since the last time David wrote an actual ending to something was the 1998 Seinfeld finale, which is still one of the most divisive bits of TV ever to air. Watched by 76.3 million viewers, it was used by David to cast moral judgment on his characters, sentencing them all to jail for essentially being ghastly and self-interested. It was a bummer of an ending, and the stink of it has followed David around ever since.

In that sense, the series 12 finale of Curb Your Enthusiasm is less an episode of television and more an exorcism. The overarching storyline of the year has been Larry’s impending criminal trial, after he unwittingly broke Atlanta’s (real) Election Integrity Act by handing Leon’s aunt a bottle of water while she waited in a sun-scorched voting line. His arrest put him in the unusual position of being nationally celebrated as a hero, for standing up against an overt voter suppression law. For a moment, it looked as if David was going to end Curb on a high.

But no dice. Just as soon as characters start mentioning the Seinfeld finale, it becomes clear where this is headed. The Curb finale would be a rehash of that episode. Forget voter suppression – the only thing on trial here would be Larry David’s personality.

Clearly, it wasn’t going to end well. For quarter of a decade now, David has been one of the most gleefully cantankerous figures on television. Every single episode of Curb features him transgressing some unspoken rule of social etiquette. Maybe he kept his shoes on in a shoes-off house. Maybe he pointed out the aesthetic appeal of a swastika to his girlfriend’s flamboyant, sewing-obsessed son. Maybe, out of spite, he opened a coffee shop next to the one owned by his mortal enemy, Mocha Joe, just to run him out of business. In the finale, many of these transgressions come home to roost.

Susie Green (Susan Essman) and Larry David in Curb Your EnthusiasmView image in fullscreen

Remember when he stole flowers from a roadside memorial? Remember when he forced a woman to leap off a ski lift, shattering her knees? Remember when he urinated on a picture of Jesus? Within context, these seemed like the actions of a rational man. In a court of law, however, they paint a picture of a monster. Of course he was going to be found guilty. Of course he was going to end up in jail, just like Jerry Seinfeld and his friends all those years ago. For a moment, that’s where it looks like this episode will end, with Larry mournfully poking at his pants tent behind bars.

And yet, despite the title of the episode (No Lessons Learned), David finds the time to reflect on where he went wrong with Seinfeld. In the episode’s dying moments, Jerry turns up to inform Larry that a juror broke sequester, and as such his sentence has been thrown out. “You don’t want to end up like this,” Seinfeld tells Larry. “Nobody wants to see it. Trust me.” A happy ending at last. Who would have guessed?

Of course, you could argue that an HBO show like Curb Your Enthusiasm exists within wildly different parameters to a beloved network sitcom like Seinfeld, and as such its viewers don’t necessarily need a happy ending. Indeed, before the final twist I found myself getting excited by the prospect of a Larry Behind Bars season of Curb. But that’s churlish. Larry David has decided to wrap up Curb Your Enthusiasm in a way that is clearly very personal to Larry David. He’s given us 120 episodes of beaming misanthropy and tooth-grinding awakwardness. He’s changed television. He’s changed the way we talk. The least we can give him in return is the sign-off of his choosing.

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There has been a lot of speculation about whether this really is the end of Curb Your Enthusiasm or if, as he’s done so many times in the past, David will draw from the well yet again. Of course, more is always welcome. But leaving him as we did – screaming at Susie for opening her aeroplane window shutter, thereby breaching the unspoken pact that it’s a “community shade” – felt perfect. Larry David, thank you always for your service.

Source: theguardian.com