CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.
TV Review: ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ Returns as Funny as Ever With ‘Seinfeld’ Cast
CHICAGO – You would have to live under a pop culture rock to not know about the big hook that will happen on this season of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” - the reunion of the cast of “Seinfeld”. Yes, Jerry Seinfeld, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander, and Michael Richards all return, but the season starts with a pair of episodes that affirm that “Curb” needs no stunt guest appearances to succeed.
Television Rating: 4.0/5.0
In the first episode of the new season of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” Larry is desperately trying to get out of his relationship with Loretta (Vivica A. Fox) while missing his wife (Cheryl Hines) and dealing with a series of disasters surrounding Jeff (Jeff Garlin) and the Funkhauser family.
Larry David, Jeff Garlin.
Photo credit: Doug Hyun/HBO
“Curb Your Enthusiasm” has always excelled by displaying David’s inabilities to deal with normal social conventions. For example, in the first episode, Jeff and Susie (Susie Essman) invite Larry to a dinner party and he has the nerve to ask who else is coming before he decides if he’d like to attend. Of course, that’s a social no-no. But the subversive genius of “Curb” is that the show almost always defends Larry’s social no-nos. In this case, NOT knowing who’s going to be there backfires on Larry.
Larry David, Jerry Seinfeld, Michael Richards, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander.
Photo credit: Doug Hyun/HBO
An even funnier subplot in the season premiere revolves around Larry’s shocked reaction when someone in his house just goes in and grabs a drink from the refrigerator without asking. Of course, Larry should have offered, but is it okay to just take a drink if the host doesn’t offer? The line in the ensuing argument - “Don’t condescend me with your tiny pear” - is one of my favorites of the year to date from any show.
The second episode feature Larry discovering a key to getting out of his relationship with Loretta - being a total jerk - and throwing a wrench into Richard Lewis’ latest relationship after he tries to avoid contact with Richard’s new gal (Lolita Davidovich) after hearing what the two of them were doing in the car just before dinner. J.B. Smoove gets a great subplot in episode two after Larry works his magic and turns a harmelss comment into something offensive.
Of course, episode three, “Reunion,” is the one getting the mountains of press surrounding this season, although it really just hints at what’s to come this year. Larry resists a “Seinfeld” reunion until he finds a compelling reason to do so. That reunion will reportedly take up a majority of the rest of this very-promising season of the best show on HBO this fall. Hearing Jason Alexander suggest a “Seinfeld” reunion would be a good idea to “make up for the finale” is something let-down fans of the show have been wanting to hear for years.
Guest stars this season include the entire cast of “Seinfeld,” Ted Danson, Bob Einstein, Fox, Lewis, Rosie O’Donnell, Smoove, Mary Steenburgen, Sharon Lawrence, Catherine O’Hara, Meg Ryan, Elisabeth Shue, Christian Slater, and Sherry Stringfield.
At the start of its seventh season, “Curb Your Enthusiasm” isn’t really breaking any of its own rules, but what struck me about the first three episodes sent for review was how consistent the show has been from year to year. Perhaps the short seasons and lengthy periods between them are some of the reason, but it’s rare to see a show this at or close to the top of its game this far into its existence. Most sitcoms have worn out their welcome by the seventh season premiere. “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is not most sitcoms.