“Curb Your Enthusiasm” and the Art of the Finale

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Since the turn of the millennium, HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” has slyly satirized the ins and outs of social interaction. The series—which follows a fictionalized version of its creator and star, Larry David, as he gets into petty disputes with anyone and everyone who crosses his path—aired its last episode on Sunday, marking the end of a twelve-season run. On this episode of Critics at Large, the staff writers Vinson Cunningham, Naomi Fry, and Alexandra Schwartz discuss the show’s “weirdly moving” conclusion as well as its over-all legacy. Then they consider other notable TV endings: some divisive (“Sex and the City”), some critically acclaimed (“Succession”), some infamously rage-inspiring (“Game of Thrones”). What are the moral and narrative stakes of a finale, and why do we subject these episodes—which represent only a tiny fraction of the work as a whole—to such crushing analytic pressure? “This idea of an ending ruining the show is alien to me,” Cunningham says. “I won’t contest that endings are different—distinct. Are they better? I don’t know.”

Read, watch, and listen with the critics:

“Curb Your Enthusiasm” (2000-24)
“Seinfeld” (1989-98)
“Sex and the City” (1998-2004)
“Succession” (2018-23)
“The Hills” (2006-10)
“Game of Thrones” (2011-19)
“Breaking Bad” (2008-13)
Little Women,” by Louisa May Alcott

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