TV’s crankiest character is kvetching for the last time.

Larry David’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” kicks off its 12th and final season on Feb. 4, ending a remarkable run that changed TV comedy for the better.

Or, rather, the show’s lack of change gave us hope in the Age of Woke.

David’s ability to spoof his image remains a wonderful bit of performance art. He wasn’t a household name prior to the HBO series’ debut in 2000. It didn’t take long for him to go from “the guy who co-created ‘Seinfeld’” to “Curb’s” signature jerk.

He might be the least likable main character since “All in the Family’s” Archie Bunker. Each episode gave us a new reason to boo him and his selfish ways. Like actor Carroll O’Connor of “Family” fame, David made his Larry doppelgänger oddly lovable, flaws and all.

“Curb’s” improv-heavy style delivered a different brand of sitcom, stripped of canned laughter and stale setups. Like “Seinfeld,” “Curb” often introduced several plotlines that came together in the show’s waning moments.

And we never saw it coming.

Of course, “Curb” was and remains hilarious, thanks to a deep cast including Richard Lewis, Ted Danson, Cheryl Hines, Jeff Garlin, and, most of all, J.B. Smoove. The latter’s introduction in season six gave Larry the ultimate on-screen partner.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 30: (L-R) Jeff Garlin, Cheryl Hines, Larry David, Susie Essman, and J.B. Smoove attend the Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 12 premiere at DGA Theater Complex on January 30, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for HBO)

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic for HBO

The show’s protracted run could have been “problematic” for David and fans alike. The show started at a time when “safe spaces,” “trigger warnings” and Cancel Culture weren’t part of the vernacular.

David and co. had nearly free reign in the early years. No one could “cancel” a “Curb” installment for bruising their feelings.

Would David’s “Curb” bow down to the woke mob? Could his on-screen character be less monstrous and more of an “ally?” The show would crumble as a result, of course, but we’ve seen more than a few comedy institutions decay under the weight of our woke age.

“Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!”

Not “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

Even the Left-leaning Guardian applauded David’s showcase for not bowing to modern sensibilities – “If It Ain’t Woke, Don’t Fix It,” read one headline.

NEW YORK - JULY 02: Larry David and Cheyenne Jackson (R) on location for "Curb Your Enthusiasm" on the streets of Manhattan on July 2, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Bobby Bank/WireImage)

Bobby Bank/WireImage

Signature episodes showed David’s fearless approach to comedy. A 2011 episode dubbed “Palestinian Chicken” found Larry torn between his fellow Jews and a delicious new restaurant. Larry ends up siding with a beguiling Palestinian woman named Shara (Anne Bedian) who ran a restaurant teeming with anti-Semites.

She even called him an “occupier” as they make love. David recently dubbed it his favorite “Curb” episode.

The show’s complicated politics shouldn’t be over-examined. David’s approach is nuanced and absurd, his willingness to be true to the character triumphs in the end.

David’s character came of age when other antiheroes ruled the small screen. Think Tony Soprano and Walter White, to name just two. The on-screen Larry wasn’t whacking mobsters or cooking meth. He went through life being offended by everyone crossing his path.

And, more often than not, he selfishly used his money and fame to keep the world at arm’s length.

NEW YORK - JULY 27: Larry David on location for "Curb Your Enthusiasm" on the streets of Manhattan on July 27, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Bobby Bank/WireImage)

Bobby Bank/WireImage

“Curb” rarely dabbles in modern politics, but when it does Larry and co. aren’t crashing any Libertarian dinners. And it wouldn’t be authentic if the on-screen Larry, a product of the Hollywood ecosystem, rocked a MAGA hat sans irony.

“Curb’s” antihero was liberal to the core, but the show dedicated an episode to Larry using that red Trump hat to his advantage. He realized strangers would flee from the sight of any MAGA hat wearer, so he proudly wore it to fend off strangers.

Pure “Curb.”

How did David keep “Curb” honest? Like his on-screen persona, he doesn’t dwell on what other people think of him, according to the show’s executive producer Jeff Schaffer.

“Here’s the thing for us: Nothing is really off limits. I think it’s just how you do it. Any subject is totally fair game; it’s how you execute it. Larry is willing to address issues other people just might not want to touch at all, and I think there’s a very good reason for that, and that’s that he doesn’t care if you watch.”

Some media outlets decried a “Curb” MeToo plotline as “clumsy,” a commentary that didn’t impact David or the show. Wokesters sensed David and co. didn’t have time for such complaints, so they rarely rose up to attack him or the series.

Even when Garlin, a fixture on “Curb” as Larry’s best bud, got booted from his other gig at ABC’s “The Goldbergs” for allegedly coarse comments and “unwanted hugs” David professionally stood by him.

“Curb” delivered a quasi-“Seinfeld” reunion in season seven, one served up on the show’s unique terms. The sitcom’s main characters joined Larry David for a “new” episode, but we saw it all go down behind the scenes.

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 30: (L-R) Actors Larry David, Susie Essman and Jerry Seinfeld attend the "Curb Your Enthusiasm" Season 7 New York screening at the Time Warner Screening Room on September 30, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/WireImage)

Jamie McCarthy/WireImage

Plus, Larry used the plot to reunite with his ex-wife, played by Hines, lowering expectations for “Seinfeld” fans demanding a perfect reunion moment.

Like “Seinfeld,” “Curb” is leaving at the top of its game with no regrets or talk of “jumping the shark,” the phrase used for shows that outlast their welcome.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

* * *

Christian Toto is an award-winning journalist, movie critic and editor of HollywoodInToto.com. He previously served as associate editor with Breitbart News’ Big Hollywood. Follow him at @HollywoodInToto.

The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.





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