Larry David has been playing “Larry David” for so long, it’s hard to tell where the curmudgeonly “Seinfeld” creator ends and where the more aggressively curmudgeonly “Seinfeld” creator he plays on TV begins.
Anchored by television’s favorite grouch since Oscar, “Curb Your Enthusiasm” (10:30 p.m. Sunday, HBO) is kicking off its 10th season. It’s a remarkable feat for any comedy — let alone one in which the main character thinks nothing of inviting a convicted sex offender over for Passover Seder or continuing to date a woman he doesn’t much care for because of the “perks,” such as great parking, that come with her being in a wheelchair.
When “Curb Your Enthusiasm” debuted way back on Oct. 15, 2000, HBO was three seasons into “Sex and the City,” two seasons into “The Sopranos” and two years away from euthanizing “Arli$$.”
The comedy predates even “The Wire,” whose creator, David Simon, has had two series (“Treme,” “The Deuce”) and two miniseries (“Generation Kill,” “Show Me a Hero”) come and go on the pay channel since then with a third miniseries, “The Plot Against America,” set to debut in March.
“Curb” has been around so long, when it started, most of the cast of HBO’s buzzy “Euphoria” was still being potty-trained.
In the fall of 2000, TV execs were betting on a different “Seinfeld” alum with NBC’s high-profile “The Michael Richards Show.” Even though it was created by a collection of “Seinfeld” veterans, the series was canceled faster than its star’s stand-up comedy career.
To appreciate just how impressive “Curb Your Enthusiasm’s” 20-year run is, here’s a look back at some other TV comedies — not counting the very similar “Seinfeld” — in which famous people played exaggerated, generally loathsome versions of themselves:
Ostensibly the story of a couple of successful British TV writers (Stephen Mangan, Tamsin Greig) and their first foray in Hollywood, their thunder was quickly stolen by Matt LeBlanc. The “Friends” star was forced on the duo by their network and quickly proceeded to ruin both their show and their lives. Over the course of the Showtime/BBC comedy’s five seasons, LeBlanc was nominated for four Emmys for playing himself. That’s one more than he received for 12 years, including that misguided spinoff, of playing Joey Tribbiani.
They’re both divorced fathers of two girls, but Louis C.K. the TV character never had the same success of the man who wrote, directed and played him. After sexual misconduct charges blew up his life and led to the cancellation of the remarkable Emmy-winning comedy, you’d have to think the real Louis C.K. would be thrilled to have that career.
‘Don’t Trust the B—— in Apartment 23’ (2012-13)
The titular “B——” (ABC’s censorship, not ours), portrayed by Krysten Ritter, was a hard-partying con artist whose best friend, for no apparent reason, is James Van Der Beek. The fading star of “Dawson’s Creek” was so desperate to restart his career, he embarked on all sorts of misguided projects, from shooting a commercial for a Vietnamese energy drink to appearing on “Dancing With the Stars” years before the real Van Der Beek would.
‘It’s Garry Shandling’s Show’ (1986-90)
There’s never been anything else quite like this ahead-of-its-time Showtime comedy in which Garry Shandling was fully aware that he was starring in a sitcom, and the studio audience regularly played a role. This one gets bonus points for having everyone from Gilda Radner to Tom Petty to astronaut Pete Conrad playing themselves as guest stars.
‘Real Husbands of Hollywood’ (2013-16)
“Curb” co-star J.B. Smoove got the chance to play himself — alongside Kevin Hart, Nick Cannon, Nelly, Boris Kodjoe and Duane Martin doing the same — in this BET spoof of “The Real Housewives” franchise.
‘It’s Like, You Know …’ (1999-2000)
“Seinfeld” alum Peter Mehlman, who helped launch “yada yada yada” and “sponge-worthy” into the vernacular, created this sitcom that was easily dismissed as an L.A.-based knockoff. The show’s most inspired bit was having “Dirty Dancing” star Jennifer Grey portray the neighbor, actress Jennifer Grey, whom no one recognized — much like in real life — after she got a nose job.
‘Jean-Claude Van Johnson’ (2016)
The ’90s action star known as The Muscles from Brussels plotted his return — both to action movies and his career as an international assassin those films served as a cover for — in this six-episode comedy from Amazon Prime that absolutely was a real thing and not some bizarre fever dream.