When NBC’s long-running, beloved Seinfeld came to a close, everyone talked about the Seinfeld curse, that nobody from that show could ever rise up from the ashes of success and do anything else. The one exception seemed to be Larry David, writer and creator of Seinfeld who went on to do the hilarious Curb Your Enthusiasm.
But now, Julia Louis-Dreyfus is back in a big way. Her new show, The New Adventures of Old Christine is one of the funniest shows on TV, and the only half hour sitcom worth putting on TIVO.
At first, the title was off-putting. Dreyfus even went on Saturday Night Live to promote it. She even won her second Emmy for the show this past year. But still, it was taking a while to catch on. Thank goodness word of mouth has kept the series going. If you haven’t yet seen it, it’s not too late to start. You are guaranteed belly laughs.
For those who need a quick catch up, here it is. Old Christine is Dreyfus, whose divorce left her raising her son mostly on her own, though a male nanny (Hamish Linklater) is around to keep things lively. Her old husband (Clark Gregg) is now with a new girlfriend, also named Christine. The only way to distinguish between the two is to call one “New Christine” (Emily Rutherford) and the other “Old Christine.”
Dreyfus is funny in everything she does, but somehow her “Old Christine” may be her most fully realized character yet. Some of her new adventures include doing battle with the Type A moms at her son’s elite private school (“one of the best in Los Angeles!”). Two particularly “perfect” blonde moms are always gossiping about her, belittling her and making it seem like she’s an all around incompetent.
The parenting at that private school is the kind where the moms hire out their kids’ school projects so that they can do well and end up in the “best high school in Los Angeles.” Christine, meanwhile, is always a day late and a dollar short.
Dreyfus is a delight to watch struggle through anything. She can always find the funny in any line or scenario. Take, for instance, the recent episode which starred Wanda Sykes as Christine’s friend Barb. At a school fundraiser Christine, who is attracted to her son’s teacher, tries to distract herself but the only thing she can think of doing is kissing Barb smack on the lips.
What probably makes Christine succeed where Watching Ellie (Dreyfus’ last canceled series) failed is the writing. The jokes are funny, like Will and Grace funny. At least two of Christine’s writers come from Will and Grace, which is probably why the show is so take-no-prisoners funny.
There aren’t enough shows like this out there, where single mothers are given a chance to struggle through life. They seemed to fade out when Murphy Brown ended. Like Candice Bergen, Dreyfus appears to be headed for a career where she can play almost anything. Whatever residual curse left over from Seinfeld has vanished. She is free and clear for liftoff.
The New Adventures of Old Christine airs Mondays at 9:30 pm on CBS.