Point: Curb Your Enthusiasm over Seinfeld!As I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to watch less and less television. There are of course a few of my favorite shows of all time that live on in syndication that I catch occassionally: The Sopranos, Big Love, Rescue Me, Entourage, Flight of the Conchords, Seinfeld, etc. but typically in a television season I get 3 maybe 4 shows per week, which maybe equal out to 3.5 hours of programming. The rest is devoted to sports and childrens programming depending how persistent my daughter feels that day. At present day, I have devoted “set up a series recording” to the following shows: Boardwalk Empire, Dallas, Wilfred, The Killing (as of last Thursday, this was cancelled from AMC), Curb Your Enthusiasm, Bar Rescue, South Beach Tow, (Don’t judge. We all have one. Or two. Or three.) Greys Anatomy (please see previous paranthetical notation), Modern Family, and Eastbound and Down. Of those shows, The Killing was just cancelled, Easbound and Down is doing one final season, and Dallas, Curb Your Enthusiasim and Wilfred are on shaky ground. My point is, I have a very limited amount of shows I get into and not a lot in the pipeline. But the one’s I watch I am strictly devoted to them on a (semi) hardcore basis and will defend them to the death over other shows. When I noticed that one of my pantheon shows (Seinfeld) was weirdly intersecting with one of the current shows on my list (Curb Your Enthusiasm), it got me thinking about a good old fashioned debate with PCP editor in chief The Duke. Seinfeld is a show that I somewhat recently got into, obviously well after it’s original run, which is unusual. More common today where seemingly any semi successful show goes into syndication, but still an anomaly when considering how one gets into television shows. I say weirdly intersecting above because Seinfeld was originally created in part by Larry David. Curb Your Enthusiasm (hence forth known as Curb) is also a show created by Larry David that he stars in basically shares the exact same premise as Seinfeld, only this time he’s a fictionalized version of himself as opposed to a combination of the three male characters on Seinfeld. While I have my clear preference, and I am prepared to defend it, it is much harder to argue television shows since they are so subjective. I had to come up with some criteria for my argument:
First : Relevenace in Society
Second : Adult Oriented
Third : Characters
Fourth : Intangibles, Misc.
First : Relevance in Society Let’s get one thing out of the way from the get go: Seinfeld will crush Curb in terms of awards on a poular level and probably on a sub cultural or counter cultural level. There is no competition, as Seinfeld was on a “big 3″ network that ran on a Thursday prime time slot and was popular with a mass mass appeal. Remember, we are arguing what we think is a better show for my categories, which fit most of my TV watching criteria. Let us take a proverbial bow and acknowledge that not only is Seinfeld a great show but it won awards and won the hearts and minds of many people in may countries. Now that we have that quick order of business out of the way, let’s get to cultural relevance. First, let’s start with Seinfeld. Seinfeld is extremly popular with pop culture. The obvious catchphrases include, “yada, yada, yada,” “No soup for you,” and “Not that theres anything wrong with that.” There are also a half a dozen more pop cultural references easily recogonzed by most people such as saying “blank nazi” (soup nazi), “Festivus,” “re-gifter,” “spongeworthy,” and when a group of (mostly high school or college kids) people get together and have a bet, we know where this comes from in our life. All of those hold up. What doesn’t hold up is some of the situations the characters get in not holding up now because of one bog problem: cell phones. Re-watching old episdoes is great, and it certainly doesn’t take away from the show but wouldn’t Seinfeld be even more awesome with a modern take to see where these zany obsessive characters would be with social media, cell phones and the digital age? It would still work. Now for Curb. The obvious pop culture references: “Prett-ay, prett-ay, prett-ay, pretty good” (the shows unofficial catchphrase now), “Groats disease,” characters stealing small, meaningless things from each other, and the eyeball to eyeball check on people to see if they are lying. There is also the huge Leon storyline that started in season six and has remained strong to date. Amazingly, this show has spanned 13 years and only been 8 seasons. There have been definite pop culture updates on the fly with this show to accomodate a changing audience and a changing world. That is pretty cool. Kind of like Simpsons, except, ya know, this show people still care about. In conclusion, to be fair, Seinfeld will get the edge here.
Second : Adult Oriented This section is going to be considerably shorter for obvious reasons. While Seinfeld was certainly an adult oriented and adult themed showed, it was on network television. It was very light, so curse words would almost seem inappropriate, but I prefer a show with much more edge and HBO changed all of that the second “The Sopranos” became a huge smash. I could make a small case for “Arliss” and “Dream On” starting the HBO as a trailblazer argument but i’m not sure 75% of the people that will read this even know what those shows are and most would argue those shows merits anyway. Curb being on HBO lets it go so many places Seinfeld couldn’t or wouldn’t go. It adds to the comedic value tremendously. I think Curb gets a big edge here.
Third : Characters This is going to be fun! Let’s start with Seinfeld. First, we know Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer. But the bit characters were great in this show. j Peterman, David Puddy, Jackie Chiles, George Steinbrenner (played by Larry David), Newman, Uncle Leo, Jerry’s parents, George’s parents, etc. Next Curb: Besides Larry/Cheryl/Leon/Susie/Jeff there is Marty Funkhouser, Dr. Blore, Tim Watley, Hugh, Larry’d dad, Richard Lewis, The nanny from hell, Ted Danson, Mel Brooks, Michael J Fox, Vivica A Fox, etc. I’m going to give this category a wash since both shows are great with bit characters and the main casts are obviously very talented actors that play their roles well.
Fourth : Intangibles; Misc The tie breaker is going to come down to the simplicity of me preferring Larry David over Jerry Seinfeld, the continuity of the show on Curb is better in terms of a recurring storyline, I fell into Curb while it was still on television, as opposed to the show being on syndication (amazingly, Seinfeld started in 1989!) and finally I feel like the episodes on Curb were more likely to happen to me, as opposed to Seinfeld.