Lest you think I have a thing against blondes, I don’t. I have a thing against bad acting, and even worse, bad improv. That’s why I’m adding Cheryl Hines to my list of entertainers I just don’t get.
Either she did a really good job as Larry David’s estranged wife, or she’s awful. Given how much everybody seems to have missed her this past season of Curb Your Enthusiasm, maybe it’s me.
If you’re a fan of the show, you know it’s a basic plot conceived by David, with no script. It’s up to the performers to fill in the blanks. That’s amazing to me because I’ve taken improv classes. I always thought I was funny, but the experience really humbled me. Improv is hard.
That’s why David made buckets of money at comedy. Like him or not, he’s a genius. He’s a master at weaving life’s idiosyncrasies into intricate yarns, and he’s good at improv. So are the pros he surrounds himself with. Susie Essman. Bob Einstein. Richard Lewis. Shelly Berman. Wanda Sykes. J.B. Smoove. Anyone who gets a guest shot — even those with bit parts — has to keep up. And they do. They’re all fabulous.
Even Harry Hamlin, the button-down lawyer on L.A. Law, was hilarious in a recent episode.
You would think Hines would do just fine. She’s certainly got the looks to be Mrs. David. Along with the pedigree. Studied improv at the renowned Groundlings Theater in L.A. Says in her Curb bio that with that background, she feels right at home
Only thing is, she doesn’t ever look that way to me. Her idea of improv is widening her pretty eyes and making faces in response to David. When she does say something, she has a habit of repeating the same phrase over and over. Like, “OK, Larry. OK.” In a faltering way, to the point of almost sputtering. You call that improv?
Giving her the benefit of the doubt, I checked her out off-camera, thinking she was playing to the role’s demands. But she acted the same way in the real-life interviews I saw. Further giving her the benefit of the doubt, I watched her attempt to be a waitress in the film of the same name. Still looked wooden.
She has what looks like another plum role in a new sitcom called Suburgatory. Maybe she’ll do better since she has another script to follow.
I realize it can’t be easy being married to David’s TV character. And I’m sure David — who doesn’t make comedy mistakes — saw something in her that I don’t. Besides being a very pretty face and foil to his insane antics.
I never saw any sparks between them, let alone chemistry. Unlike the women he dated this past season.
Come to think of it, the characters played by Jeff Garlin and Essman don’t have a great marriage, either. They’re usually at each others’ throats.
But at least they’ve got talent. That’s all I ask for, if you’re going to get top billing on an acclaimed show like that.
Memo to David: If you’re planning on another season, don’t bring Hines back. Take up with the Palestinian chick from the Palestinian Chicken episode. Or even the chicken. It’s got more life.
Very good post. I’m currently watching the entire series through again, and by the middle of Season 2, I started to find her character annoying, and even distracting. You’re right; her improv skills seems to be lacking, and she seems to just say “Ok, you know what?” and similar things over and over again. She’s the weak link in the show for me.
It’s frustrating that a comic genius like Larry David uses a no-talent like Hines. She adds nothing to the show and guest stars blew her out of water yet she’s the one having the great gig. She waters down the scenes she’s in for me because she always does the same thing of acting being annoyed, widening her eyes and saying the same phrases over and over. I would love more Suzie Essman or any other person for that matter than Hines.
Binge watched the whole series over the past few weeks. By the end, I wanted to kill Larry David for casting her. She is terrible.
That’s the reaction he wants!
The last two seasons I laughed way more than the others… I quickly realized why…. She’s worse that Sally Struthers in All in the Family.
Couldn’t disagree more. Not every character has to wrestle away the scene or, as you put it, “keep up.” Most of the actors are playing caricatures of Jewish culture. Hines provides a refreshing foil to the unlikely plots and exaggerated stereotypes. Without her, it would all be a bit much. Funny? At times. Genius? C’mon. It’s a sitcom.
Appreciate the comment; and you’re right, the show did need a low-key character to tone it down. But even low-key requires improv comedy skills, which she seemed to lack, IMO. She always looked like a deer in headlights. Maybe she’s actually very talented. I haven’t been interested enough to catch her in anything substantial. Thanks again…
It’s very satisfying to see these criticisms of Cheryl Hines. She “is” truly awful!!!!