HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm was stuck in a malaise prior to season 6, with Larry and Cheryl’s divorce subsequently saving the show. Curb Your Enthusiasm centers on a (somewhat) fictionalized version of Seinfeld creator Larry David, whose socially unorthodox approach to everyday life lands Larry in various deplorable situations and labyrinthine misunderstandings. For the first six seasons of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry’s grating persona takes the highest toll on his exasperated wife Cheryl (Cheryl Hines), who acts as the series’ initial foil for Larry’s uncompromising approach to life.
Cheryl finally snaps mid-way through Curb Your Enthusiasm season 6, specifically in episode 7, “The TiVo Guy.” As her plane back to Los Angeles is caught in a storm, Cheryl calls Larry hoping for reassurance and affection, but instead, Larry is preoccupied with getting the notoriously hard-to-schedule TiVo technician (Kevin Heffernan) comfortable before he hangs up on her. Disappointed and hurt, Cheryl leaves Larry, with the pair eventually divorcing two seasons later.
Although Cheryl Hines is phenomenal in her role as Larry’s beleaguered wife, their divorce inadvertently saved Curb Your Enthusiasm‘s narrative. Before season 6, Curb Your Enthusiasm had begun to turn stale, with Larry stuck in a familiar pattern of offending and subsequently apologizing to his wife. However, his split from Cheryl revitalized the direction of Curb, allowing a fresh set of characters, Curb Your Enthusiasm celebrity cameos, and hilarious scenarios to come to the fore in further seasons.
Why Larry & Cheryl’s Marriage Had to End
In the context of Curb Your Enthusiasm‘s narrative options, Larry’s marriage shackled the series by not allowing Larry total autonomy over his bizarre life. Larry and Cheryl were also stuck in an infinite loop character arc-wise, with Cheryl yelling at Larry with increasing ferocity each week before the pair’s relationship reset the following season. Cheryl leaving Larry in season 6 fixes this, freeing Larry to get into all manner of uncomfortable, and more importantly, fresh situations as he attempts to get his dating life back on track.
Cheryl finally divorcing Larry also allowed Curb Your Enthusiasm to introduce and expand upon new dysfunctional support systems for Larry. J.B. Smoove playing Leon Black is the prime example, as he’s now one of the most beloved Curb Your Enthusiasm characters. Whereas Cheryl was a foil for Larry’s often petty gripes, Leon enhances Larry’s bizarre take on everyday life, resulting in the pair’s hilarious odd-couple dynamic that has blossomed since J.B. Smoove’s Curb Your Enthusiasm season 6 introduction.
Curb Your Enthusiasm also arguably created its best season to date from the ashes of Cheryl and Larry’s relationship, with Larry’s quest to win back his estranged wife resulting in the iconic “Seinfeld season.” The gathering of a beloved sitcom cast and Larry’s character foibles subsequently tearing each of them down is quintessential Curb that would not have been possible in earlier seasons due to Larry’s increasing desperation to reconcile with his wife. Now awaiting its 12th season, Curb Your Enthusiasm sees Larry more side-splittingly detached from reality than ever before, yet this evolution of his character may have never been possible if Cheryl’s divorce had not saved the narrative 14 years ago.
Were Larry & Cheryl Married in Real Life?
Since so many of Curb Your Enthusiasm‘s characters, including Larry David himself, are named after and closely based on real people, it’s natural to wonder whether David and Cheryl Hines were ever actually married. The answer is that they were never married, although the Larry-Cheryl split likely had some basis in reality. Larry David did go through a divorce with his then-wife Laurie Lennard in 2007 before Curb Your Enthusiasm season 6 aired. This could have inspired the season’s events. Likewise, Cheryl Hines would go on to divorce her first husband, Paul Young, in 2010. She’s since remarried to Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and Seinfeld writer Larry David is married to Ashley Underwood. While Larry and Cheryl were never married in real life, their dynamic on Curb Your Enthusiasm is a memorable one.