Life is often far stranger than fiction. None more so than in the world of Larry David. Larry, twenty years ago, created Seinfeld, which grew into one of the greatest sitcoms ever screened. It’s popularity, especially in the States, was ground breaking.
Seinfeld finished quite a while ago and Curb Your Enthusiasm documents Larry’s life ever since. Although the premise doesn’t sound great, it’s absolutely hilarious. This is mostly due to Larry himself and the weird and wonderful scenarios he finds himself in. Some elements are very like Fawlty Towers. Each episode revolves around a farce. A series of events are introduced which then lead to a conclusion where everyone is shouting at one another. With Larry himself, like Basil, we are either laughing with him, rooting for him or, more commonly, laughing at him.
Curb is great because it also shows how ridiculous some of the first world problems we have are. In one-episode Larry gets annoyed with a woman who he views, is abusing the free samples rule in an ice cream parlour. The way the confrontation occurs is done in such a way where you are either with Larry or against him. It’s only when he is retelling what happened that you see how bonkers the situation was.
I’m catching up on Curb and still have a season to go before I am ready for its return in October. The last episode I saw was one where Larry’s girlfriend was diagnosed with cancer. Larry, at first, is sympathetic. Then, a couple of days after the diagnosis, his girlfriend asks him to drive her to somewhere.
“Why? Just because you have cancer, it doesn’t mean you can’t drive.” says Larry.
His girlfriend isn’t at all happy with this and a huge row ensues. However, they are both right. Larry is right in that his girlfriend CAN drive. Why should she stop because she has cancer? His girlfriend is right because she has just heard what is the worst possible news that anyone could hear. Her mental state must be all over the place. This coupled with the medication that she is now on, could mean that in no way should she be in charge of a vehicle.
And here is the crux of illness. When you get ill, it infects the whole body. The biggest organ that gets infected is your mind. You may have a broken leg, backache, cancer, whatever. The thing is that your life won’t be as it was before and this will affect your mental outlook. That’s why, in my opinion, all illnesses are mental illnesses. This is not to say that mental illnesses have any less impact on their sufferers than physical illnesses do. In fact, it’s far worse. At least if I have a broken leg, others can understand why I’m not feeling great. Having depression doesn’t quite have such an obvious visual cue.
Also, illness ebbs and flows. You have good days and bad days. What irritates others, especially employers and institutions, is when these good and bad days are. It annoys me when you get people spouting off about the flexibility of the workforce. I’m all for more flexibility, but it’s one sided. We must be flexible to work at a drop of a hat, but should we need time off for illness or to care for a sick relative, the door is slammed shut.
The nature of illness is changing. People are living longer and living with illnesses. Yet there has been a lack of funding in services, benefits, respite, social care, wages to help these people get on with their lives. Until this changes, Larry better pull his finger out as living with people with illnesses certainly isn’t black and white.