How Larry David’s sitcom Curb Your Enthusiasm helped ease my post-lockdown social anxieties – Laura Waddell

This far into the fight against Covid, many of us having now returned to some semblance of our before lives after the many months of lockdown, suspended socialising, and headache-inducing Zoom meetings, it’s not uncommon to feel a degree of social anxiety getting back into the swing of things.

Larry David's semi-autobiographical sitcom Curb Your Enthusiasm can help us laugh at ourselves (Picture: Frederick M Brown/Getty Images)
Larry David's semi-autobiographical sitcom Curb Your Enthusiasm can help us laugh at ourselves (Picture: Frederick M Brown/Getty Images)

In my first forays back into meeting friends for lunch or a drink, I felt myself staring with fascination at people’s faces, having not seen them without the barrier of screens for some time.

Sorry if I’m being weird, I frequently found myself saying; it’s just nice to see you here in front of me again. Self-consciousness wrapped itself around my tongue; how entertaining and ebullient am I expected to be, how reserved?

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What once came naturally, in the comfort of friendships formed over time, suddenly felt stilted and off-kilter. The only cure for it, other than the occasional propranolol, prescribed for anxiety, slipped under my tongue, was perseverance and saying yes to social invitations and events more often than no, even if I had to scrape myself off the sofa and force myself out the door, even if I had to go to a friend’s birthday karaoke.

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Dutifully making the effort, eventually I relaxed back into the saddle, nerves no longer rearing up at the prospect of something as benign as a coffee date coming up in my calendar.

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I may have to Curb my Enthusiasm for balling people out. Just call me Larry Davi...
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Rewatching Larry David’s semi-fictionalised sitcom Curb Your Enthusiasm has been illuminating. A TV writer and producer, as in David’s real life, the character Larry notoriously gets himself into all kinds of social scrapes and awkward situations, says the wrong thing, behaves uproariously and inappropriately, lured into a maze of social hells and ego blows.

What starts innocuously turns, inevitably, into the worst-case scenario. When Larry agrees to take part in a charitable auction, it’s a course of action that ends with him on stage, in front of an unsympathetic audience, having a physical altercation with a child.

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In another, when trying to pitch a new sitcom idea to TV network boss, Larry can’t stop himself from accusing the man of stealing shrimp from a takeaway box mix-up.

Laughing at these scenes deflates their awkwardness. No matter what social fears lurk in the gloom of the brain, it is rarely as bad as we fear.

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