Apparently, after seven years on the air, people are catching-on to Curb Your Enthusiasm. After posting strong ratings and garnering critical praise, the eighth season of Larry David’s adventures in misanthropy has HBO thinking about season 9.

When the season premiered three weeks ago, it earned unusually high ratings, but then, something weirder happened – the ratings improved in each subsequent installment. Last week’s episode “Palestinian Chicken” pulled in 2.4 million viewers – up 24 percent from the week prior, which saw an increase of 12 percent from the already high numbers of the premiere.

Of course, all of this good news has thrown the normally cantankerous David for something of a loop – leaving the creator wondering what ingredient is creating this better-than-expected response. “What does it mean? Is it the lead-in? Is it the show?” David asked, when the numbers started coming in.

According to HBO, sure, the strong True Blood lead-in is definitely helping, but more to the point, after an extended time off, it could be that audiences just missed the guy.

The last time Curb was airing new episodes was early November of ‘09; putting 20 months (give or take) between the season 7 finale and the season 8 premiere.

It turns out, longer than average cycles between seasons can have a positive effect on the ratings for some shows. While it’s not uncommon for HBO to allow more off-time for its creators (such was the case with The Sopranos – in which nearly two years passed between seasons 5 and 6), Curb‘s absence may have had more to do with David and Co. wondering how much funny was left in the tank. Evidently, there was quite a bit.

Certainly, the creative process benefits from time, as evidenced by the strong return of another hit show that had been AWOL for more than a year, AMC’s Breaking Bad. Walter White’s return to the airwaves also posted strong ratings, and the critical praise to which the show has become accustomed.

J.B. Smoove & Larry David agree 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' is great again

Although other circumstances delayed the fifth season of AMC’s other darling, Mad Men, it won’t be surprising to see the extra time-off result in a strong season 5 for Don Draper and his fellow scotch swilling ad execs.

It wouldn’t be show business if a good thing weren’t followed up with more, so, naturally, HBO is eager to get David to agree to a ninth season. Mind you, that would tie Seinfeld‘s run on NBC – though it’d surpass David’s run on the show (he bowed out at the end of season 7).

As far as HBO is concerned, they have reason to be hopeful. According to the network’s president of programming Michael Lombardo, “For the first time ever after this season Larry didn’t say ‘I never want to do this again’. That is a promising start.”

You can catch new episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm Sunday nights @10:00pm on HBO.

Source: Deadline