The Last Season of 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' Wraps Up Larry David's Sitcom in a Pretty, Pretty, Pretty Perfect Way

After 12 seasons over 24 years, Larry David closes out his post-'Seinfeld' comedy masterpiece as only he can.
Sarah Ward
Published on April 10, 2024

A quarter of a century is a long time to spend with Larry David, even with gaps along the way. Friends and acquaintances of the fictionalised and heightened version in Curb Your Enthusiasm might have some not-so-positive things to say about investing that chunk with one of TV's great curmudgeons. If you're a fan of the satirical series that premiered in 2000, however, 12 seasons isn't enough. But David has called time on his second small-screen smash. While CYE hasn't beaten Seinfeld's episode count, going out with 120 instalments versus 180, it stayed on-screen on and off for far longer than the ultimate show about nothing — and, right up until its final moments, it didn't avoid for a second the fact that Seinfeld was always going to cast a shadow.

Streaming in Australia via Binge and New Zealand on Neon, Curb Your Enthusiasm isn't Seinfeld 2.0 for a lengthy number of reasons that'd get anyone saying "yada, yada, yada". But in riffing on David and his life, playing with his fame for co-creating one of the all-time sitcom hits has been baked into the premise from day one. Cue appearances from Seinfeld cast members, also as themselves. Cue dedicating a season focusing on making a Seinfeld reunion special as well. Accordingly, when CYE's ending first came into sight, of course the inimitable force behind both shows began the last season with the series' iteration of Larry going where Seinfeld's characters closed out their tale: jail.

In season 12's debut episode of ten, he isn't incarcerated due to criminal indifference. Rather, Larry's stint behind bars comes about thanks to the opposite. In Atlanta to attend a rich fan's (Sharlto Copley, Beast) birthday party, on a paid gig courtesy of the success of Young LarryCYE's in-show show about David's childhood, in the style of Young Rock and Everybody Hates Chris — he gives a bottle of water to Leon's (JB Smoove, Música) Auntie Rae (Ellia English, Blood Pageant) while she's in line to vote. That's illegal in the state of Georgia. The cops pounce immediately. So, with the nudging and winking — and reshaping and tinkering — that Curb Your Enthusiasm does exquisitely well, one of the season's key threads is born.

Larry being Larry, he wasn't really trying to make a stand against ridiculous voter-suppression laws. Larry still being Larry, he's also content to capitalise upon being regarded as a hero, complete with droves of media attention. And, Larry never able to be someone other than Larry, he's his petty normal self regardless of how much praise flows from Bruce Springsteen — or ire, because getting to know Larry even when he's being commended and congratulated doesn't always mean actually liking him, as the plot strand involving The Boss, his final Los Angeles gig, COVID-19 and whose drinking cup is whose screams.

Before Beef was winning Golden Globes, Emmys and other awards for trivial squabbles, David got there first. Before The Rehearsal and The Curse's Nathan Fielder was inspiring cringing so vigorous that you can feel it in your stomach, David was as well. Almost anything can happen and has happened to Larry, and being argumentative and awkward, holding grudges and rarely having his foot out of his mouth in response is a constant. Since season one, whatever has come his way has usually involved his manager and best friend Jeff Greene (Jeff Garlin, Never Have I Ever), alongside the latter's perennially suspicious wife Susie (Susie Essman, Hacks). Initially as his spouse and then as his ex, Cheryl David (Cheryl Hines, The Flight Attendant) has frequently weathered the fallout in his vicinity. So have his friends, such as Ted Danson (Mr Mayor) and the late, great Richard Lewis (Sandy Wexler) as themselves from the get-go, plus the aforementioned Leon Black, who moved in with Larry when the Davids took in his sister Loretta (Vivica A Fox, Bosco) after Hurricane Katrina.

The show's swansong season is vintage Curb Your Enthusiasm, including when a lawyer who looks like one of David's many enemies, overhearing golfing lessons, throwing things at CODA Oscar-winner Troy Kotsur, getting disgruntled over breakfast menus cutting off at 11am and shirking reading scripts for old colleagues are involved. Season 12 also sees Larry try to date Sienna Miller (Extrapolations), sponsor Lori Loughlin (Blessings of Christmas) to join his country club and attempt to befriend Conan O'Brien (Conan Without Borders) when he moves into the same neighbourhood. He learns the Gettysburg Address while urinating, conditioning himself to feel the urge when he hears it afterwards. He's suspected of drawing penises on billboards. Also on his list: conjuring up schemes to ditch his girlfriend Irma (Tracey Ullman, Death to 2021) that he despises and get out of looking after an acquaintance's daughter if he passes away.

From its premiere at the turn of the century to its farewell now, Curb Your Enthusiasm has been fascinated with whether someone as set in his ways as David — who was the inspiration for George Constanza — can and will ever change. He doesn't, and watching why that's the case only stopped being comedy gold when the credits rolled on the very last episode. That goodbye is named 'No Lessons Learned'. David gives voice to the idea, too: speaking to a young boy being told how to behave by his mother, he's unrepentantly Larry, telling the child "I am 76 years old and I have never learned a lesson in my entire life". As he bickers with a flight attendant about turning off his phone on the plane to Atlanta, gets crude hand signals from a driver who won't let merge on the highway and questions something about an ex-girlfriend of Richard's that's never normally spoken about (because when would that stop Larry?), his own words keep ringing true.

When season 12 sent Larry to jail early, echoing how Seinfeld ended, it was always working towards more overt nods in its predecessor's direction. Cycling through legal representation (Will & Grace's Sean Hayes plays one attorney), Larry has been bound for court ever since. Airing grievances, all coming from folks who believe that they've been wronged by him over the years, was the natural — and gloriously, gleefully intertextual — path for Curb Your Enthusiasm's climax, then. David has learned lessons, though, since penning the end of Seinfeld. How that pans out, and CYE's conclusion overall, is pretty, pretty, pretty perfect.

Check out the trailer for Curb Your Enthusiasm season 12 below:

Curb Your Enthusiasm streams via Binge in Australia and Neon in New Zealand.

Images: HBO.

Published on April 10, 2024 by Sarah Ward
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