Curb Your Enthusiasm is absolutely a comedy TV institution at this point, a full 20 years after it first debuted on HBO. Larry David's creation may not have eclipsed Seinfeld in popularity, but it's arguably had a bigger influence over modern television than the '90s sitcom. Part of its success comes from the fantastic ensemble cast that David has amassed over the years, but one of the most prominent members of that group unfortunately won't be around at all for Season 11, with comedian Richard Lewis revealing he didn't take part in any of the upcoming episodes.
I can't imagine what would have happened had Curb Your Enthusiasm's eleventh season aired without audiences having any prior knowledge of Richard Lewis' absence. Perhaps it's hyperbole to say that riots would have broken out, but at the very least, fans would have some harshly worded outgoing messages on their answering machines. (A joke that speaks to how long this show has been airing.) So it's probably good that Lewis made the announcement himself on Twitter, as seen below.
While I obviously understand what he was saying, it's amusing to think about Richard Lewis not being in Curb Your Enthusiasm because he "endured a back." Now when it comes to enduring fronts, that's where J.B. Smoove's Leon comes in. But I digress.
It's true that Richard Lewis only appears on Curb Your Enthusiasm in a recurring capacity, and doesn't always show up as much as Larry David's other co-stars like Jeff Garlin and J.B. Smoove. However, Lewis appeared in seven out of the ten episodes that made up Season 10, which marked his highest frequency rate for the entire series, which had previously topped off at five. It felt like the show was comfortable giving him more to do on the whole, but of course life got in the way, and now we won't be seeing him at all for a while. I guess they'll have to fill the void with a ton of guest spots from Hollywood's elite.
All that said, Richard Lewis didn't exactly announce he was fully out of the Curb Your Enthusiasm universe for good. There's no telling at this point whether or not Larry David will bring the show back for Season 12, but considering HBO has basically given him the freedom to come and go as he pleases, it's a possibility. And in a statement to Variety, Lewis voiced his hopes to make an eventual return, saying:
For 20 years, I had the greatest comedy gig I could have ever imagined with my oldest and dearest friend LD. Honestly, I’m crushed that I won’t be part of this season. For sure, I will be screaming with all the other Curb fans when the new season starts. Hope to be there for Season 12!
Somebody send Susie over to Larry's house to yell at him about confirming Season 12 until it happens. Until then, we'll be sitting over here with an anti-pants tent in reaction to Richard Lewis' absence while waiting to hear when Season 11 will premiere on HBO. (And while also waiting for Larry David to show up on SNL to reference all the Bernie Sanders memes from the inauguration.)