Anyone watching Seinfeld for the first time in the 21st century will eventually ask the critical question: How does George Costanza maintain a procession of sexual partners who are well out of his league? But at this point, Costanza’s luck with the ladies can no longer compare to the string of affairs notched by Larry David, the man he’s based upon — or, at least, the version of Larry David we love to watch on the long-running HBO cringe-com Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Despite his protests when housemate Leon Black (J.B. Smoove) suggests he is “tapping that ass,” this Larry David is, quite often, tapping that ass. At the start of the show’s latest season, he dates none other than Lucy Liu. Before that, it was Lucy Lawless and Elizabeth Banks. He’s fielded advances from a dry cleaner played by Gina Gershon and had a long-term relationship with a character played by Vivica A. Fox. He has spontaneous sex with his ex-wife’s sister, as well as with a Palestinian woman who vows to “fuck the Jew out of him.” You could argue, not without cause, that David, 74, is an eligible bachelor thanks to his wealth and fame — an impression aided by his real-life second marriage to Ashley Underwood, 30 years his junior — yet it’s difficult to deny an allure that emanates instead from his casual wear and kvetching.
Here, for example, is supermodel Tyra Banks confirming that both she and her mom have a crush on Larry, and describing her starstruck nervousness when she met him at a party:
Back in 2018, Jennifer Lawrence professed her love for David to Stephen Colbert, saying that she flirted with David “all night” at Amy Schumer’s wedding (but didn’t get anywhere with him). Previously, she had joked about masturbating to his impression of Bernie Sanders on SNL.
And social media is awash in people proclaiming everything from mild infatuation to outright lust — this for a man who portrays himself as a nitpicking, argumentative, misanthropic pessimist.
Just what is it that makes this cranky New Yorker in Los Angeles so different, so appealing?
I think you can start by comparing him to the other old or middle-aged men on Curb. Next to his friends, Larry feels relatively fit and spry. He works out. He eats healthy foods. His visits to doctors and hospitals are always routine or the result of an absurd accident. Next to the frail Richard Lewis, the stodgy Marty Funkhouser (portrayed by the late, great Bob Einstein), the wholesomely paternal Ted Danson and the classically infidelious Jeff Green (Jeff Garlin), Larry feels altogether youthful and more in step with the contemporary mood. Although the very definition of a Baby Boomer, Generations X, Y and Z can all imagine themselves in his shoes: unexpectedly rich and spending that fortune on nothing but your own comfort and leisure, yet still afflicted by petty gripes and nuisances that arise from sharing the world with other people.
At the same time, David seems immune to the nonsense that causes us angst on any given day. There’s something hot in knowing that if you tried to explain, say, an Instagram scandal or Twitter drama to him, he wouldn’t have the slightest idea what you were talking about, and more importantly, he wouldn’t even pretend to care. He’s operating on a higher level, and so sure of who he is that he doesn’t have to waste the smallest fraction of energy on anything else. Yes, he’s got money and rubs elbows with A-list celebrities, but it’s how he uses that status — to achieve what could well be the platonic ideal of blunt honesty — that draws fans and admirers. You needn’t actually agree with David on a subject, because whatever position he takes, you’ll find yourself thinking in his terms, according to his beguiling logic.
Congrats, then, to a guy whose decades of self-deprecating humor have yielded an impressive thirst across the spectrum of possible suitors. It’s almost as if hiring actors to berate you as a “four-eyed fuck” and “bald asshole” inspires a sympathy that turns into respect, and finally into a sexual urge. The women David courts on Curb rarely compliment his looks or virility, but he wins them over with wit, that sly smile and a sort of cool ambivalence as to his singular charisma. That he usually screws it up in the end is only more endearing: He’s a winner who makes a sport of loss. Women want to be with him; men want to be him. And somehow, he stays humble.