What Was TV Like When “Curb Your Enthusiasm” Premiered?

Hiatuses in the creative endeavors happen.

The filmmaker Terrence Malick has released four films this decade. Prior to this decade, he made only four films in his entire career, which started in 1973. He took 20 years between his second film and his third film.

Hiatuses as long as that are rare. 20+ years without working in *any* field is rare, unless you’re a Hilton. Hiatuses are particularly rare in television. Shows don’t take time off, other than the traditional few months between seasons.

Curb Your Enthusiasm,” is not a traditional show. It’s never been a traditional show. And that’s why it’s one of the best of its era. And why we’re excited it’s coming back for a ninth season on October 1.

Few shows make it to nine seasons. Even many of the most popular shows in television history don’t last that long. Certainly many shows don’t last 17 years, unless they’re “The Simpsons” or “Saturday Night Live.” “Curb” has made it to both nine seasons and 17 years.

But wait…

That’s not one season per year! In fact, it’s closer to a season every two years. That’s uncommon in television.

“Curb’s” first few season came year after year. However, the show started producing new seasons every other year in 2005. When the ninth season premieres in October, it will mark a return after six years. The hiatus was long enough that fans were starting to question if the show was done for.

As a “Curb” fan, the return has me feeling, well…

It also made me feel pretty… pretty… pretty old. I’ve been watching “Curb” since the beginning. The show premiered in 2000, right around the time television was starting to be revolutionized, thanks in part to shows like “Curb.” It was one of the first sitcoms to abandon the laugh track.

In fact, a lot has changed about television and the world at-large since “Curb Your Enthusiasm” premiered. Here’s a list of facts that might just blow your mind about the differences between television in 2000 versus television in 2017.

Breaking News: The Highest Rated Show on CBS Was a News Show

In 2016, cable news broke ratings records for themselves. That’s not surprising, given that it was an election year and that one of the major candidates was a celebrity outside of traditional politics. But even on the best nights, news shows rarely crack the top 30 for highest rated shows. “60 Minutes,” however, has been an exception. The long-running news magazine show was not only one of the ten most watched shows in 2000, it was the highest rated show on CBS. If a network today relied on a news program as its ratings flagship, the next story you would see on that program would be about that network’s bankruptcy.

Ariel Winter was a Smaller Member of Her Modern Family… Literally

Modern Family” is one of the best shows of this decade, thanks largely to its terrific ensemble that features actors from multiple generations. Winter is one of the younger actors on the show, and her character Alex has grown up in front of our eyes; last season she was accepted to college. But in 2000, Winter herself couldn’t get accepted into preschools, because she was only two years old.

Kenan Thompson Wanted to Know if You Want Fries with That

When “Saturday Night Live” begins its new season next fall, Kenan Thompson will hold the record for most seasons as a cast member. He is currently tied with master impressionist Darrell Hammond, at 14 seasons a piece. 14 years with any show would be a dream for most aspiring performers, but those 14 years are just part of Thompson’s career. In 2000, Thompson was wrapping up “Kenan & Kel,” the sketch comedy show for kids. The show featured the famous “Good Burger” sketches, which were transformed into a movie.

The “Seinfeld” Curse was a Terror

After “Seinfeld” ended in 1998, it was unclear what would happen to the four principal cast members. Seinfeld went into quasi-retirement. Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Michael Richards all tried headlining their own shows, and they were all failures. Fans quickly devised the theory of the “‘Seinfeld’ Curse.” To be fair, you could almost make an argument that this is still in effect. Almost. Alexander has been a dependable character actor, but his star has certainly faded. Richards… let’s not touch that one. Dreyfus, however, singlehandedly lifted the curse starting in 2006. She’s headlined two popular shows, and won six Emmys in the process.

The “M” in MTV Actually Served a Purpose

Now that MTV mainly broadcasts reality shows with teens and soap operas with teens, it’d be fair to think that the “M” stands for “moody.” However, if you turned on the channel in 2000, you would *actually* see music videos. And Carson Daly, before someone at NBC thought he could be a late night comic for some reason.

Bryan Cranston Wasn’t the Scariest Man in America

Between 2008 and 2013, “Breaking Bad’s” Walter “Heisenberg” White was the most terrifying main character on television. And there were shows about cannibals and serial killers on during that timespan. Cranston wore the villain hat incredibly well, but it was alarming at first for viewers in 2008, who knew Cranston as the goofy dad from “Malcolm in the Middle.”

The Highest Rated Show Was… Need a Lifeline?

At the end of the 1999-2000 television season, there was one show that dominated everything else in the ratings. It was on three nights a week, and was the highest rated show on each of those nights. If you need a hint, you should phone a friend. Or ask the audience. If your friend is reliable, they will tell you that the show in question was “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.” The game show is now in syndication, but in 2000 it was *the* ratings juggernaut.

Reality TV Was Barely a Reality

So-called “reality” television dominates the schedule for many channels. Some channels indulge in the genre exclusively. The President of the United States was formerly the star of a reality show. But in 2000, audiences were only starting to get familiarized with the genre. “Survivor” was in its first season; same goes for “Big Brother.” These were the shows that helped popularize the new wave in television, as “American Idol” wouldn’t exist for another two years.

Dennis Miller Was Considered a Liberal

When referencing conservative celebrities, Tim Allen and Dennis Miller are probably the most mentioned. Miller, who makes frequent appearances on Fox News shows, has a career that dates back to the 70s. In that time, his material has evolved. While it would probably be a mistake to confuse him as a diehard progressive, the younger Miller was typically grouped in with more liberal-minded comics like Bill Maher and Jon Stewart. His talk show, which by 2000 was nearing the end of its run on HBO, featured rants that would probably anger a lot of his current Fox News followers. His politics, however, changed as a result of 9/11.

Bob Odenkirk Was a Comedic Trendsetter

The role of Saul Goodman is hardly as serious as “King Lear,” but it’s not Norman Lear either. Odenkirk has demonstrated impeccable dramatic chops on both “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul,” but for older audiences, he isn’t just the criminal lawyer. Throughout the 90s and early aughts, Odenkirk was involved in some of the most influential comedy projects, including his David Cross collaboration, “Mr. Show.” In fact, in 2000, Odenkirk had a guest appearance on an episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” How’s that for a full circle?