In an interview this week, Larry David, creator of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," answered a question from me about matters of taste by saying, "And the more people I can offend, the better."
If that is the standard, then Sunday's premiere of the seventh season of this HBO comedy is the best. Right out of the box, David is absolutely pushing the limits of TV comedy on issues of race, gender, coarse language, mental illness and physical disease.
You don't realize how incredibly edgy David's work on HBO is until you try to write about it in a family newspaper and suddenly discover that you can barely start to describe situations and setups, let alone dialogue and punch lines.
You get a sense of David's tone toward mental illness from the episode title, "Funkhouser's Crazy Sister." David, who plays himself as an angry crank, makes the mistake of making a nice but empty gesture of asking if there is anything he can do for a woman who was just sent home from an institution. He and his manager, Jeff (Jeff Garlin), wind up alone with the woman at her home, and they both behave inappropriately.
Reading that vague description, you are certain there is nothing in the show to make you laugh. But if you watch, I guarantee you will at least smile in spite of your better impulses. I'm sorry, but this is some of David's best work.
HBO sent out three episodes to critics, and the third one titled "Reunion" is the one everyone is talking about - the reunion of "Seinfeld," the landmark NBC series on which David served as executive producer along with Jerry Seinfeld.
No spoilers here - I will only say I instantly fell back in with this gang of older but still absolutely self-absorbed friends. David wants the reunion so that he can try to get his wife, Cheryl (Cheryl Hines), back by offering her an acting part. Now all he has to do is convince each of the other narcissists that it is a good idea.
In the end, probably no reunion is ever going to measure up to the memory many have of a show as treasured as "Seinfeld." But I love the fight David gets into with an NBC executive and all the wisecracks from some of the other cast members about how unsatisfying they found the "Seinfeld" finale. David's bottomless defensiveness is the perfect icing on a wickedly delicious cake.