Larry David’s daughter Cazzie delivers a series that’s like ‘Seinfeld’ and ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ swaddled in Snapchat filters and drone jokes.
Even if you didn’t know the names behind this year’s hottest web series, it felt instantly familiar: the nitpicking over minutiae, the anxiety-fueled arguments, the friendships built on equal parts love and disgust. Larry David’s 22-year-old daughter follows in the footnotes of his unique brand of humor with Eighty-Sixed. The web series debuted in April 2017 when Complex announced the eight-episode series about Remi, “a neurotic, semi-narcissist who, across several episodes ranging four-to-eight minutes, tries to ‘win’ her breakup.”
The show came from writers Elisa Kalani and Cazzie David, the daughter of Larry David, cocreator of Seinfeld and the actor/writer behind HBO’s long-running Curb Your Enthusiasm. The elder goofy, acerbic David brought back Curb in October, but this year some new buzz has been swirling around his talented daughter.
What Cazzie David brings to YouTube is a millennial spin on her dad’s humor, albeit with her snarky take. Her neuroticism is rooted in the same crippling self-doubt that made Curb such a hallmark follow-up success to Seinfeld. Remi (played by Cazzie) creates arbitrary “rules” that riff off Larry David’s own scribbled maxims: while Larry insulted his friends who didn’t “respect wood” (when he spotted glass rings staining antique wood), Remi won’t let her BFF sit on her bed with “city pants.” That is, Remi is such a clean freak that her bed has to be devoid of any contaminants carried by jeans through the day.
Every one of Cazzie David’s stories, each its own vignette in an episode, dissects how a breakup can fracture a person’s self-worth so powerfully they resort to desperate tactics. Case in point: Remi freaking out about her ex hooking up with a girl sporting a “very tight vagina.” Again, we’re reminded of Curb, when Larry hears about a nurse’s “big vagina” in “The Ski Lift.” Cazzie David pulls off the crude but hilarious homage with ease.
We cringe at Remi’s awkwardness in confronting her ex’s sexual maneuverings, but we see ourselves in her. We know surfacing from being dumped takes the kind of emotional strength rarely exhibited with charm or grace. When Remi slips, we want to catch her.
Even if her decisions disgust us.
When she doesn’t let a mentor drink from her water bottle during a hike, again exhibiting that germaphobia, Remi is almost asking us to hate her. We wonder why she’s being so petty.
What works for this type of character development, where the protagonist veers far from Carrie Bradshaw–likable territory, is consistency. Like Larry David in Curb, and George in Seinfeld, Remi’s social awkwardness practically ramps up every episode, heavily influenced by how frustrated she gets with her friends Lily and Owen. We marvel at how easily Remi is triggered, like when Migos music bumps heavy at a party but she’d rather hear forlorn songs to end the good vibes so that her friends will decide to leave the party quicker. Because she can’t stand being happy.
“How can anyone be ‘at 100’?” she wonders in one episode. “At my most, I’ve been a 72.”
That’s a telling line: With so much pressure to curate a social media image of smiling buddies and cheek-kissing lovers, a millennial’s life can be pretty boring sometimes. It might be weighed down by disappointment, depression or a heady combination of both. Through art Cazzie David, and her father too, ask us to temper our expectations: life isn’t a sitcom; it’s a show about nothing…or nothing going right.
When Remi worries what her ex thinks about her, or his level of attractiveness compared to hers, such navel-gazing spirals her down mental wormholes of insecurity. Again, she realizes she’s at a 72, tops, and most likely often under 50.
When Remi stresses, she echoes the kind of self-inflicted wounds Cazzie David suffers from, as the writer/performer noted in an interview. While Remi sweats over her ex, Cazzie worries “about stuff like getting sick, home invasions, and how animals are in pain but can’t tell anyone.”
Each episode of Cazzie David’s Eighty-Sixed is a finely written morsel of tight humor, thanks in part to its medium. At seven minutes an episode, the stories never feel bloated. We get exactly what we want in each story — Lily’s birthday egoism pushes Remi to the brink, and that’s it, no other thread to follow. Picture each episode like a close-up of Remi and her two friends, with the ex not even getting an on-screen cameo.
Another layer to Cazzie David’s series is its comment on technological shifts rippling into the everyday. The drone episode gets you thinking about how we should approach “drone laws” in an era when kids can careen flying cameras onto anyone’s property. Of course, there’s no heavy-handed lesson in Remi’s battle with filmmaking-loving kids, but instead some madcap humor lightens the mood in a series that knows it is the mirror of another generation.
Drones, Instagram tags and embarrassing selfies make up a new language the elder David couldn’t capture too seamlessly on Curb. When Larry David’s show tried to catch up by airing episodes about overtexting, for example, it had the air of a grandpa shaking his fist at the latest doohickey gadget-thingy. When Remi tackles the painful terror of being tagged in a Facebook photo that she wants to hide from her ex, the pain is real, as silly as that sounds. She and her friends instantly recognize that today’s public shaming sits firmly in the court of online opinion.
Remi the character is the kind of friend you hate to love. She annoys you at almost every interaction, but she has an eagle-eyed intelligence that is easy to admire. Cazzie David the writer, though, is building a series that could serve as a time capsule of a slice of society that’s familiar if you know or if you are a twentysomething. When alien worlds discover this detritus of Next-Gen Problems, their advanced brains might flare with the familiar feeling of privileged neuroticism at its most fundamental.