Jeff Schaffer and Susie Essman on the ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ Finale

With a parade of callbacks and a twist a quarter-century in the making, “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” the HBO series starring Larry David as a heightened version of himself, ended its 20-plus-year run on Sunday.

The final episode, which referenced the polarizing 1998 finale of “Seinfeld,” David’s previous show, was replete with the usual out-of-bounds commentary and cranky fixation on minutiae; David and his co-stars — Jeff Garlin, Susie Essman, J.B. Smoove, Richard Lewis — do not, by creative mandate, change. (“I’m 76 years old, and I have never learned a lesson in my entire life,” David tells a child in the episode, in the opposite of a teachable moment.) In real life, though, the cast are longtime friends, and have weathered much together, including the death of Lewis, who played himself, in February.

On Monday, Jeff Schaffer, the longtime executive producer and director, and Essman — who portrayed Susie Greene, the scene-stealing, expletive-hurling wife of David’s manager (Garlin) — got together for a post-mortem video interview about the series that, they said, changed their lives. Essman was in her home in New York, and Schaffer, who got his start as a writer on “Seinfeld,” was in the “Curb” offices in Los Angeles, where a sign on the wall behind him, hanging askew, read: “No defecation please.” (It was a prop from Latte Larry’s, the “spite store” that David’s character opened to malign a neighboring coffee shop, Schaffer said. “And it’s a sentiment I feel is as true now as it was then.”)

Essman and Schaffer spoke about filming their final moments with Lewis, how the characters could live on, and why the conception of the finale presaged the end of the series. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.

When did you conceive of the finale?

JEFF SCHAFFER It was July of ’22. We were writing the season — we weren’t that far — and we knew that we were starting with Georgia. [In the season premiere, David’s character gets arrested for giving a woman water while she waits to vote in defiance of a local election law.] When you start with a crime, one of the possibilities is a trial. So that was floating around, one of the many paths that we could go down.

And we were just talking about a little story, of Larry not wanting to be involved in a kid’s lesson. We talk out the scene and distill it down to a few lines. In character, he said, “I’m 75 years old, I’ve never learned a thing in my life.” And that was the moment for us where we said, “Hold on a second, what if we just blew that up and just told everybody: ‘Larry’s never learned his lesson,’ and just did the ‘Seinfeld’ trial again?” Just owned it. Like, we know what you thought of that, and we don’t care. We’ve learned nothing. We’re going right at it. We’re steering the Titanic right back at the iceberg.

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