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Curb Your Enthusiasm vs. Seinfeld: Which Larry David Series is the Best?

To create one classic comedy series is an achievement on its own, to create two takes a certain kind of talent. A kind of talent clearly possessed by Larry David, the co-creator of both Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm. The two shows ushered in a span of nearly thirty-three straight years of consistent success from a Larry David product, with Seinfeld ending in 1998 and Curb Your Enthusiasm debuting in 2000. What is most impressive about these two shows is the longevity they both share, with Seinfeld running for nine seasons and still flooding the airwaves in syndication today, and Curb entering its twelfth season in 2023. But which of the two series is Larry David’s best? Let’s examine the differences in the shows to get to the bottom of this Larry David mystery!

Tone & Audience Appeal
Seinfeld cast
Columbia Pictures Television Distribution
While both shows come from the same creative mind, tonally they are completely different beasts. For all the adult themes that Seinfeld addressed throughout its run, it always felt and still feels to this day like a show you could watch with your family. It also explored philosophy in a much deeper way than most people would think from a comedy show. It was dubbed a show about nothing, but it was actually about everything. Curb, on the other hand, leans completely into the world of maturity, both in its vulgar language and subjects. Exploring the art of being a sociopath in the bluntest of ways. Obviously one of the biggest reasons for this is the difference between being on network television as opposed to being on a pay television network like HBO.

This shift in networks allowed David to explore comedic topics in a new and refreshing way after being subject to the network television limitations for nine years. Taboo language and topics could be fleshed out in stories; maturity could reign supreme in the world of HBO. This in turn allowed David and Curb to find an audience on HBO that Seinfeld may not have appealed to during its initial run in the ’90s.

Scripted vs. Unscripted
Larry David and Jeff Garlin in Ski Lift
Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution, HBO Enterprises
Another big difference between the two shows is Seinfeld’s reliance on scripted episodes and Curb’s utilization of a lot of unscripted and improvisational acting. For Seinfeld, it was important to surround Jerry, who himself would admit is not the greatest actor as he comes from the standup comedy world, with actors who had more polished skills in the profession, such as Jason Alexander, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. This in turn caused the actors to follow the script more closely. While that is not to say there are no great improvisations from Seinfeld, just revisit “You want a Christmas card? Here’s your Christmas card.”

Curb, on the other hand, decided to let its actors experiment with lines, jokes, and moments from the show. Often times you will see characters genuine reactions to their fellow actors’ jokes that the production chooses to leave in. This lends an air of realism to episodes of the series; you can tell when someone is laughing because something is funny or laughing because they are scripted to, and this helps to provide a true story to the audience that they can invest their laughter into. This has helped Curb Your Enthusiasm become one of the best modern sitcoms.

The Verdict
Seinfeld Finale
Columbia Pictures Television
Nobody wants to watch a great back-and-forth game end in a tie, but in the case of Seinfeld vs. Curb Your Enthusiasm it is truly a toss-up of which series is truly Larry David’s best. Seinfeld’s success knows no bounds. The series is recognizable the world over, one of the best TV sitcoms of the ’90s, and today is as popular as ever, thirty-three years after its debut. Curb, while not as successful as Seinfeld, has still enjoyed longevity not often seen on television as it goes into season twelve.

To truly try and assess which one could be better than the other, you need to look at where the shows divert from each other. That is in their appeal to viewing audiences. While it is entirely possible for someone to enjoy both shows, the series do tend to lean one way or another in their appeal. Curb offers a mature version of Larry David’s comedy that you can’t quite get from Seinfeld and vice versa. To declare one of the two shows the best Larry David work would take away what each show has built. They portray uniquely different aspects of Larry David’s comedic talents.

To simplify it even more, think about cake and pie. Some people love cake; some people love pie; some people love both. Cake and pie are uniquely different but undeniably enjoyable. You can’t go wrong with either Seinfeld or Curb Your Enthusiasm, but at the end of the day it comes down to taste… cake or pie?

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