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‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ begins the end of Larry David’s show for people who hate people

<i>John Johnson/HBO</i><br/>Larry David and J.B. Smoove in
John Johnson/HBO
Larry David and J.B. Smoove in "Curb Your Enthusiasm."

Review by Brian Lowry, CNN

(CNN) — After 11 previous seasons spread over 24 years, the final run of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” feels like an occasion but really isn’t, in the way a show that actually built toward something, like “Lost” or “Game of Thrones” was. Mostly, Larry David’s extended swan-song provides a final chance to watch him and his pals carry on like idiots, feeling a little more hit-miss in the execution.

As with earlier seasons (“The Producers” run being a prime example), there is an ongoing through-line to the events of Season 12, with Larry becoming celebrated for an inadvertent action, a ruse he struggles to maintain while still enjoying the opportunity to bask in the glory.

The show also fields a particularly impressive assortment of celebrity cameos as, naturally, themselves, over the course of the nine episodes previewed, with HBO asking critics to keep the bigger names under wraps.

Ultimately, though, “Curb” always comes back to Larry being Larry, and dealing with the fact, as he describes himself, that he is “A person who hates people and yet had to be amongst them.”

He also spends most of the time with his near-equally-eccentric friends and frenemies, including Jeff (Jeff Garlin, who David has stood by, despite allegations regarding his on-set behavior that led to his awkward exit from “The Goldbergs”), Susie (Susie Essman) and Leon (J.B. Smoove), as well as an extended circle of Richard Lewis, Ted Danson and Larry’s ex-wife Cheryl (Cheryl Hines, who has become more controversial since her husband, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., began running for president).

Tracey Ullman also lingers as the girlfriend that Larry doesn’t really like but with whom he can’t break up, since she’s undergoing addiction recovery and, he’s told, such an event might be a significant setback to her progress.

Chalk it up, perhaps, to everyone being a little older than when last we saw them, but much of this season feels more tired, or perhaps just familiar, in an “Old Man yells at cloud” (or in Larry’s case, Siri) kind of way. That said, there are still explosively funny moments, underscoring David’s knack for identifying the absurd and a prevailing attitude that has long since made clear he doesn’t care who he might offend, but rather mischievously revels in it.

Indeed, there’s a popular meme on the platform formerly known as Twitter that features David saying, more crudely, “Nobody cares.” One of the defining aspects of “Curb” has been that its creator and star came to the show after having become hugely wealthy thanks to “Seinfeld,” allowing him to produce episodes when and how he wanted to do them, an arrangement that HBO has honored for a quarter-century.

That unique dynamic alone has made “Curb” a fascinating experiment, which has lasted far longer than even David probably could have envisioned. Even with all that creative freedom, given David’s quirks, real and imagined, its longevity is frankly remarkable.

So whatever the final episodes hold, this much appears certain: Nobody can say “Curb” signed off prematurely; and Larry David will be leaving on his, and only his, terms, at which point he can get back to being one of those people who hate people however much he wants.

“Curb Your Enthusiasm” begins its 12th and final season February 4 at 10 p.m. ET on HBO, which, like CNN, is a unit of Warner Bros. Discovery.

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