Curb Your Enthusiasm returns, with Larry in more hot water than ever.
I never, ever thought I would be in a position to review a new episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. And that’s frankly because, believe it or not, the show outdates my time reviewing things on the internet — hell, Geek Binge didn’t even exist back when the show was suspended indefinitely in 2011. But now, Curb is back, and six years later, the main question is just how much the show could have changed in the year’s since its initial conclusion.
The answer, of course, is not very much.
But in recapping this episode, I’m going to try something a little different. Rather than just do a standard boring old review (that not many of you would read to begin with, by the way), I’m going to try something fun. Curb Your Enthusiasm is a Top 10 show for me, one that I find to be one of the most beautifully crafted, superbly helmed comedies ever produced. I love the series to death, and one thing I love about it most is the way that it can tap into the oddities of life in a way that is both relatable and (of course) blisteringly funny. Larry David is almost unmatched in his mastery of the “comedy of errors,” and I can’t imagine a better way to recap this new season than by listing all the various social blunders Mr. David ends up engaging in. So, without further ado, let’s break down the five biggest faux pas of Curb Your Enthusiasm’s return to television — “Foisted!”
1. The Door Equation
We’ve all been there — you’re about to enter a building, somebody is approaching, and you have exactly half a second to figure out whether or not to hold the door for them. The main question is of course distance–are they far enough that you’ll be stuck holding a door like a jackass for like a minute? Or, even worse, are they not even planning to enter the building, leading to that awkward two second glance where neither party knows exactly what to say to the other, before the realization that this nice gesture was ABSOLUTELY useless sets in. Yes, such a small thing in polite discourse can seem rather complicated.
And not one to underthink things, Larry adds another wrinkle to “The Door Equation,” as he deems the person behind him “not the type” to appreciate an open door. Though Larry did factor in the distance, this assumption seems based almost entirely on the butch demeanor of the stranger, later revealed to be Jeff’s barber Betty (guest star Julie Goldman). As you would expect, this isn’t the last time that Larry’s assumption about the type of person Betty is would get him into trouble. But before that bit of awkwardness, we first move into…
2. The Death Text
The eternal sparring match between Larry and longtime friend Richard Lewis is a trademark of Curb, primarily because the two comedians have such strong chemistry together that pretty much any storyline involving them works. That is certainly the case in “Foisted!,” as Richard Lewis’ return includes such wonderful put downs as “You know why I’m laughing? At the sadness of your entire existence” and “You’re devoid of anything that is remotely caring, or empathetic.”
Such nastiness comes courtesy of Larry’s flippancy over Richard’s pet parakeet, who recently died. Figuring that a phone call was a bit much for a non-human, Larry instead sent a slightly humorous text, figuring it would be something that fellow comedian Richard Lewis would appreciate. He didn’t, of course, but even after such a heated exchange, don’t expect things to change all that much in Larry and Lewis’ relationship. It hasn’t after five decades, after all.
3. To Foist, or Not To Foist?
But one relationship that likely won’t be healing after this episode is the one between Larry and his new assistant, Mara (Portlandia’s Carrie Brownstein). Mara is pretty piss poor at her job, with her latest action (calling in sick for two days for constipation) being the camel that breaks Larry’s back. Unfortunately, Larry feels he can’t just fire Carrie, as her limp makes her far to sympathetic a character to so unceremoniously let go.
Thankfully, there’s another option: the good old fashion Foist! (which, like mother!, is best read as one long shout.) That becomes an especially easy decision once an illuminating conversation with Leon leads to the revelation that Jimmy Kimmel foisted Mara on to Larry to begin with. It’s a circle of foisting, really, which Kimmel later remarks that “eventually, someone at the end will have to marry her.”
But before that happens, Larry foists Mara onto Sussie, who is in search of an assistant to help her with her quickly growing soap company. Larry of course wastes little time foisting Mara onto Susie, and does it with the kind of glee you would expect (I counted FOUR pretty goods at the end there.) But the decision to Foist Mara onto Susie ends up backfiring on Larry in more ways to one. But before we get to that, let’s return to Larry’s troubles with Betty.
4. The Bride and The Groom
During a haircut (which ended up costing double Jeff’s, by the way), Larry casually brings up the age old question of gay and lesbian weddings — who takes on what role? Should the more masculine person be the groom, and the more traditionally “feminine” person the bride? Sure, it’s a bit of an outdated concept, but I’ll give the real Larry David the benefit of the doubt here — as a seventy year old Jewish man, I’m sure he’s not clued into the practices of LGBT unions.
And the question mostly seems to be an innocent one, that is until Larry’s pre-conceived notions end up causing a rift between Mara and her fiance (in an episode chock full of guest stars, Nasim Pedrad here was by far the best.) Well the subject matter is a bit spotty and could easily come off as offensive, I do feel the butt of the joke ends up (as it often is) being Larry, whose kneejerk reaction is clearly presented as incorrect in the context of the episode. It still might have ended up being the weakest subplot of “Foisted!”, but it at least led to one hell of a verbal spar between Pedrad and David (my favorite part of which was Larry’s aside about his butterfly hobby, absolutely mystifying Pedrad.) And, besides, fictional Larry David has far more to worry about than angering this soon to be married couple, as the final faux pas of “Foisted” illustrates.
The moment Larry’s new creative project (a musical comedy about the Ayatollah) was introduced, I knew it could only lead to disaster. But even I couldn’t predict that said disaster would be the actual Ayatollah issuing a death warrant on Larry’s head, seemingly leading into one of the big plot points of the season.
As a concept it’s quite ballsy, but also pretty damn hilarious, and just the kind of faux pas that could only come from the mind of Larry David. That, and the scene between Larry and Jeff learning of the Fatwa proving to be one of the funniest moments of the episode. Either way, I am beyond excited to see where this particular blunder will end up going as the season progresses.
This was a stuffed premiere, clocking in at a full 40 minutes of runtime. But after such a long time away, I wouldn’t consider getting more great Curb Your Enthusiasm a bad thing. And this really was a banner episode, excelling so much at what making this show works, and reminding viewers like myself why I fell in love with the series in the first place. “Foisted” was an excellent way to kickstart what should be an exciting ninth season, and I’m exciting to see what misadventures Larry will end up landing into next. With a death warrant on his head, the sky is really the limit here.
- Cheryl is back after an extend time off last season. Not quite sure what her role will be in the rest of the season, but the presence of Cheryl Hines is never a bad thing for sure.
- Also Ted Danson, who I can’t help but see as Michael from The Good Place now everytime I see him. This has led to a pretty weird reading of that Smirnoff Vodka commercial, let me tell you.
- In-show, Danson is apparently separating with Mary Steenburgen. They still seem together in real life though, thank god. In any case, me thinks that Larry will end up trying to woo Mary, now that they are both single. If “Ted and Mary” was any indication, he is pretty infatuated with her.
- Sammie is apparently getting married, which really shows how long its been since the show was last on. They grow up so fast, huh?
- But the fact that her future husband is a war vet (and the concept of PTSD gets namedropped) can only spell doom in the future. Especially considering that a future episode is titled “Thank You For Your Service.”
- Leon seems to be living in Larry’s poolhouse now. Moving on up, Leon is.
- Speaking of which, Leon becoming Larry’s new assistant was perhaps the funniest concept of the night. I can only hope that his new role sticks throughout the rest of the season, even if the whole Fatwa thing was technically his fault (shouldn’t have foisted Mara before having a competent backup, Larry.)
- Larry’s disguise post-Fatwa was hilarious. Just seeing Larry David with hair is always worth a chuckle.
- Jeff, of course, is concerned primarily about his own well being after Larry’s fatwa. Thankfully, there is no such thing as a “fatwa by association.”
- I’m glad to see Larry has moved on to an iPhone. I half expected him to be the type still holding onto his old Blackberry.
- “The whole world is out there constipated!”
- “The blessed event hasn’t occurred yet?”
- “Aye Lassie, I admire yer courage.” Larry’s contempt at his assistant here was immediately palpable.
- “I shoot a porno constipated.” Boy would I love to learn more about Leon’s life pre-Larry.
- “I don’t live in a Cuban dance hall.”
- “Are you sure a dead parakeet isn’t funny?”
- “You’re not goomy, you’re bridey!”
- “STOP SAYING AJAR!” Nasim Pedrad really is the best, and she deserves more funny roles.
- “You’re comparing this to a dead parakeet?”
- “I’m sorry, that bitch got foisted.”
Also published on Medium.