Curb Your Enthusiasm | Your next box set

Curb Your Enthusiasm is truly a view into Larry David's mind, with all its unexpected wisdom and unabashed idiocy

You will be familiar with the premise. Larry David (above) is himself, creator of Seinfeld, famous, obviously, a big noise, but not as famous as, say, Ted Danson – and living in the kind of world (Santa Monica) where that kind of distinction means a lot. Thus Curb Your Enthusiasm hangs on this highly traditional premise of the self-deluding man unleashing his delusions upon the world, which kicks them off like pesky terriers. David is an intensely funny man – just in the act of walking through a door he is funny (I emphatically do not mean that he falls over.)

But there is innovation and texture far beyond that format: the show is strange. Sometimes it lampoons very obvious social tensions – racism, anti-semitism, sexism, other discrimination, yada yada; you'll have religious fundamentalists pitted against one another with hilarious results, or a disabled person taking advantage, or an inter-couple fight where Larry thinks only the breadwinner has paid for dinner, so won't say "thank you" to the wife. All that stuff is as well done by Curb as it has ever been by anybody – I mean it! – but if that were all, it would be a bit Borat/Brüno (where the more obvious the target, the more outrageous you have to be, until it's this vaudeville, half-hour toe-curl).

But Curb has an unexpected wisdom and an unabashed childish idiocy, qualities it unleashes and splices without warning, so that one episode will be effin' and jeffin', and the next will be a rumination on marriage so profound it could take on five decades of guidance counselling with one raised eyebrow. The thing is, this truly is one man's mind. It's a conceit of telly that one character can be this supercharged everyperson who we'll all fall in love with. But most shows never feel like the vision of one person, they are always flattened out by script-writerly consensus. This isn't – it is compellingly idiosyncratic, and funny in an overwhelming, underhand way, as if someone had made you laugh in your sleep.

Contributor

Zoe Williams

The GuardianTramp

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