I compare ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ to ‘Star Trek.’ Because I can.
As everyone who has watched this season of Curb Your Enthusiasm (and probably many who haven’t) knows, this was the year in which Curb went hyper-meta and became, in part, a show about making a Seinfeld reunion show. The plotline came to a head in last night’s finale, which was brilliant, and in some weird ways played like science fiction.
Larry David, who plays a fictional version of himself on the show, spent this season getting the Seinfeld cast back together (with the usual amusements that ensue from setbacks, histrionics, and in-jokes) in order to create a Seinfeld reunion that would serve, in a sense, as a second finale to the series which had that famously disliked final episode.
The arc was a clever device that allowed Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld to do a reunion without actually doing one. All season, when Larry was told that this would allow them to “make up for the finale,” he would maintain that there was nothing to make up for. (The whole plot was ostensibly a means to an end — a Machiavellian scheme for Larry to get back together with his wife.)
I’ve read a number of reviews about the season finale, but perhaps my favorite comes from the A.V. Club’s Amelie Gillette, who writes:
I’m pretty sure Larry David made the universe fold in on itself tonight. More specifically, he made the Curb universe and the Seinfeld universe merge and then fold in on itself — and it was nothing short of incredible to watch. Larry David playing “Larry David” playing George Costanza, aka a fictional Larry David? Could there be a stranger feat for an actor to pull off than playing two fictional versions of himself simultaneously?
— Amelie Gillette, A.V club review
Yes. Nailed it. To be a nerd and tie it all together, this reminds me of the way the Star Trek universe folded in upon itself in Trek XI by having Spock travel back in time as a literally plotted explanation for rebooting the entire Trek franchise. The paradoxes are fun — all the while, at a story level, the creators are toying with us because they are playing with the fictional “realities” primarily to serve as commentaries on themselves.
In the case of Trek, it’s done as a nod that the original series did in fact exist and that a relaunch is done within that existing framework (granted, wiping it out at the same time). With Curb/Seinfeld, it allows a show to do a reunion while sidestepping the typical pitfalls of a reunion show — and to avoid, to a degree, any sense of earnest sincerity, which was always a critical aspect of Seinfeld (that is, avoiding sincerity, not embracing it).
Call it food for needless thought. Any Curb/Seinfeld fans out there in JammerLand? (In lieu of calling it something else, I guess that will do. Colbert Nation it ain’t.) What did you think?