It’s becoming clear that Larry David’s hit HBO comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm is destined to be regarded as one of the best shows of its time. In fact, it’s already shaking out that way. Many publications have included it as one of the best two or three comedies of the century so far, and The Guardian even listed it as the 14th best show of any kind that we’ve seen in the past two decades.
People love the show for a lot of reasons — and mostly because it’s flat-out funny. But there’s also a sort of casually clever wisdom to Curb Your Enthusiasm, and more often than not it manifests in lessons about what not to do, or how not to act. Many of these lessons show through in how Larry David himself handles relationships.
The simple fact is that Larry’s a bit of a misfit — socially awkward to the point that the show often has us “squirming,” as Foxy Bingo put it in a piece that delved into a particularly bizarre social encounter (in which the character accuses his father’s retirement home of fixing bingo games). This doesn’t preclude him from healthy relationships, of course. But it does lead to more than a few examples of things people probably shouldn’t do while dating.
Some of those examples are worth filing away for reference.
Don’t Mock Family
One of Larry’s more bizarrely memorable lines in the show concerns a comparison of converting from Judaism to Christianity to one person forcing lobster on another He specifically makes this comparison when talking to Cheryl (his wife for much of the show) about her sister Becky’s desire to convert her (Becky’s) fiancé before their wedding. Larry is somewhat bemused at the notion of transitioning from Judaism to Christianity because it often happens the other way. But the lobster line goes over strangely. It’s not a huge deal, but it’s a nice little reminder that mocking a partner’s family can only go so far before it gets weird.
Don’t Keep Secret Rules or Expectations
One thing noted among the steps to resolving relationship conflict listed in a previous article here was that it’s important to “let go of being right” now and then. This is absolutely good advice, but Larry teaches us another angle to it, which is to define what your version of “right” is in the first place, for the sake of clarity. This lesson comes from the infamous “Trick Or Treat” episode in which the Davids’ yard is toilet-papered into oblivion as a result of Larry’s decision not to give Halloween candy to two teenage girls. Upset over the incident in what Hollywood Reporter dubs one of the defining episodes of the show, Cheryl calls out Larry’s “own set of rules” that nobody else knows. It’s a good reminder to communicate what you feel is right or necessary, rather than expecting a partner to intuitively grasp your unwritten rules or expectations.
If Sex is Awkward, Keep it Fun
In an incident you’re probably familiar with if you know the show, Larry David is at one point totally derailed by a certain, intimate piece of bodily hair lodged in his throat following oral sex with Cheryl. Granted, it’s lodged firmly enough that Larry pursues medical help, so perhaps he couldn’t help himself. But before that he’s hacking and coughing in a noticeable, awkward, and annoying way for quite some time. It’s an amusing little depiction of why it’s generally best to keep bedroom awkwardness light and fun whenever possible. Letting it become an issue only makes things more awkward (if not downright embarrassing).
Don’t Be Presumptive
We’ll close out with a bit of advice that stems from a light, awkward moment that doesn’t involve Cheryl. Rather, this one comes from Larry’s brief flirtation with the guest-starring Lucy Lawless. While recovering from an injury, Larry casually informed this new romantic interest that he was not allowed to have sex for a week — prompting her to explain (angrily) that she had only meant to invite him for dinner in the first place. Not exactly Larry’s best moment, but it’s a good reminder: Don’t be presumptive about these things (even when you’re in a relationship).