Hail to the Chief of Hitting Dat Ass

It is amazing how long one television series can survive on social incompetence, boorish behavior and outright misanthropy. No, I’m not talking about 7th Heaven, but rather Larry David’s love-it-or-hate-it HBO masterpiece Curb Your Enthusiasm, whose sixth season has recently been released to DVD.

Producer and star David was the one of the creators of Seinfeld (if you haven’t seen Curb Your Enthusiasm, imagine George Costanza’s apoplectic neuroses wired into the mind of W.C. Fields’ put-upon lout), so it may be appropriate that as the season opens, the show feels a little too familiar, like a great sitcom that has stayed on the air beyond its relevance.

Curb Your Enthusiasm follows intertwining storylines that hold a satirical fascination with social customs and pop minutiae. In one show, David conceives a “brilliant” idea to skip boring parties by showing up a day late, a move that always backfires, yet still inspires a wave of copycats. In another, he’s outraged when friend/rival Ted Danson makes an anonymous donation while not-so-privately taking credit.

Things pick up with the introduction of the Blacks, a family of African-American hurricane refugees that David and his increasingly impatient wife Cheryl (Cheryl Hines) take in. This initially leads to a predictable series of un-P.C. racial gags, but it also introduces the character of cousin Leon (played to the hilt by J.B. Smoove), who works as David’s aggressively confident, smack-talking counterpart.

Their scenes together are among the most hilarious of the season; Leon even gets the most quotable line, likening himself to Barack Obama in that he’s “the President of Hitting Dat Ass.”

Leon reinvigorates the show, as does a mid-season bombshell in which Cheryl finally dumps David, hurling him back into the dating pool. Not only does this shatter Curb Your Enthusiasm’s familiarity, but it creates myriad possibilities for a smashing seventh season.