When I was nineteen, I was involved in a community theater production where we engaged in a Get-To-Know-You exercise where we were asked to stand up and say which celebrity we saw ourselves in the most. I got up and said:
“I would choose Larry David because I’m always made to feel bad for what I say and do, even though I’m usually right.”
I came of age in the late aughts, when Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Seinfeld reruns were at their apogee, as was the philosophy of “Be Yourself, Even If No One Likes It.” In this environment, there was no better person to see myself in than Larry David, and I’ve continued that to this day.
“Curb“, recently announced its overdue resurrection within the upcoming year, and my excitement at this news has led me to reexamine just how much Larry David, or more particularly his on-air-alter-ego, has shaped my sense of identity. Despite the show’s reality-challenging sitcom style, there are certain life lessons that I’ve taken from LD’s magnum opus that have stayed with me.
1.) It’s Okay To Say You’re Sorry (Repeatedly):
The quote from the entire Davidian oeuvre that always struck the sharpest chord with me comes from Season 5, Episode 9, “The Korean Bookie”:
“I’m apologizing to people all the time.”
Ever since childhood I’ve been that kid who has the most to say when they should keep quiet, who knows not of the concept of thinking before I speak. This made me have to become the Apology Kid as well. Hearing a successful adult acknowledge that you can make the same mistakes over and over, recognize what those mistakes were, and always try again means that being the Apology Kid doesn’t make you a bad person. It just means that you can learn.
2.) Your Real Friends Will Never Leave You:
I can’t think of one recurring character on “Curb” who Larry has not alienated, offended or been insulted by. And yet, they stay. Some of them are directly based on real people (Richard Lewis, Jerry Seinfeld), some of them are fictional (Jeff and Susie Green, Marty Funkhouser), but all present the same plausibility that they would stay friends with Larry, a loyalty that’s never questioned. As we age, one universal truth we learn is that friends who truly care about and have common ground with us will be in it for the long haul. Larry David is someone who can’t keep the majority of the people he knows by his side (including his wife for a quarter of the series). However, those characters that do stay teach us that we can count on certain people to think we’re worth it, even if they sometimes consider us a bald prick.
3.) You Don’t Have To Always Love One Person:
As previously mentioned, Larry’s fictional wife, Cheryl, leaves him during the sixth season. Contrary to what often happens in other versions of this plot line, Larry doesn’t waste time before going out with new women, culminating in a year-long relationship with Vivica A. Fox’s breakout character, Loretta Black. At the beginning of the seventh season, they also break up, and the pattern from the previous season begins anew. What made this uncommon was that Larry was rarely fazed by any of these changes. Despite initial attempts to reconcile with Cheryl (and the hope that most audience members still have for a reunion in season nine), the overall attitude is that it’s not the end of the world if things don’t last with someone. There’s a new girlfriend almost every week, but Larry’s character stays the same, the supporting cast of regulars treat him like they always have, and the rotation of guest comediennes never play embittered paramours, but understanding parties. For a sitcom that’s partially based on real events, this tells us viewers that life after love with certain people may alter but doesn’t need to be the end of anyone’s story.
4.) Don’t Ever Stop Trying New Things:
When “Curb” premiered in 2000, Larry David was fifty-three, ostensibly retired, and still lesser known than his Seinfeld co-creator, Jerry Seinfeld. However, after the show began, people discovered that LD was the true king of American situation comedy, as well as an improv and ensemble creation maven. This fearless venture into new territory mirrored itself in the fictionalized version. Throughout the show’s course, fictional Larry became a car salesman, an investor to both a restaurateur and inventor, a musical theater actor, a kidney donor, a philanthropist to a homeless family, a temporary stepfather, and a TV creator all over again for an in-universe Seinfeld reunion. Age and previous success never stopped Larry from trying anything new, an unusual drive for many. Not all of these avocations work out well, in fact, most don’t, but the urge to try never leaves him.
5.) Good Deeds Aren’t Always What You’d Expect:
One of the greatest moments of Curb’s run (or indeed all of TV history), is the end of the third season, “The Grand Opening.” Before the credits roll, Larry leads the entire patronage of the Bobo’s lounge in a series of profanity-ridden interjections to allow the Tourette-afflicted chef to feel included. What would normally be considered gauche conduct is one of Larry’s greatest moments of humanity. Similar moments can be found within the series:
- Larry’s covering for Jeff after a day of mutually-therapeutic, but extramarital, sex with Marty Funkhouser’s depressed sister.
- Purposefully setting a blind friend up with a woman who wears a Niqab so he won’t be the only one who can’t see what she looks like.
- Taking a preteen boy to the Playboy Mansion to fulfill his dying wish to see a naked woman.
None of these acts look ethical on paper, but when you see how they affect the characters and the purity of Larry’s intentions, it can be observed that sometimes doing good for others involves means that aren’t entirely conventional.
6.) Fuck Ted Danson:
Seriously, what an asshole.