A review of last night’s Curb Your Enthusiasm coming up just as soon as I want the same privileges as Eddie Haskell…
“Namaste” was for the most part Curb season nine in a nutshell, overflowing with so many great comic ideas and great comic actors to play them — included, but not limited to, Lauren Graham, Doc Farrow, Marc Evan Jackson, Ron Funches, Will Sasso, and Alison Becker (Shauna Malwae-Tweep!) — that none of them felt fully explored in the way that Curb can.
For instance, Larry dates a TV censor (from his old network, no less) and is turned on by hearing her talk dirty? Great! But it was forgotten about almost instantly. Larry pretends to be on the autism spectrum as an easy way to excuse all his abhorrent behavior? A little reminiscent of that time he claimed to have a stutter so he could use the handicap bathroom stall, but nonetheless a fine idea for an era where every socially-maladjusted TV character gets armchair diagnosed as on the spectrum — it just wasn’t introduced until the episode was nearly over. Larry being banned from hot yoga because he wouldn’t say “Namaste”? Maybe if more time had been spent establishing how much he needed that class for his hamstrings, it would have worked, but like a lot of incidents this season (like being kicked out of the dinner party with Funkhouser’s girlfriend), it came across as Larry suffering a punishment he didn’t care about.
And yet Larry suffering the consequences of offending his Romanian Uber driver felt both like classic Curb and the rare season nine story to feel like it couldn’t have happened earlier in the series. Larry might not care about Instagram likes, but he still has to get from place to place — and the intersection of the Uber story with his offending Greg the mechanic was also vintage Curb/Seinfeld-style plotting — so a world where his behavior can lower his rating and greatly inconvenience him(*) is ripe with comic potential. But even that felt like it didn’t go as far — or intersect with as many of the episode’s other subplots — as it could have. Had the “I have Asperger’s” idea (complete with Larry channeling Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man) been introduced sooner, for example, he could have tried it on an Uber driver and maybe had success with it, which in turn makes it even funnier when the bus passengers don’t care at all and literally throw him onto the curb.
(*) Though even there, you have to ignore the question of why someone as obscenely wealthy as Larry doesn’t just rent a car until his is fixed, or call a car service or taxi or something else not app-dependent.
When a joke has a few minutes to develop, like Larry and Leon’s argument about why Leon is having sex in the main house (and about the appeal of “fuck scent,” or lack thereof), or when a few different ideas come together at once, like Justin Brown assuming that Leon is Larry (and being as surprised at his blackness as Larry was at Greg’s) and overcompensating for his earlier rudeness on the phone by offering to pay for the repair himself, the show can still be wickedly funny and appealing. But Curb 2017 could really have stood for some consideration of less being more, because while each idea (say, Larry asking Bill the HVAC guy to choose which “child” to send to a concentration camp) has potential in a vacuum, they’re each elbowing the one before it aside before it has a chance to bloom into the joke it clearly can be with the talent involved.
What did everybody else think?