Review of the last season of Curb Your Enthusiasm: Larry David is unparalleled in his talent.
Has Curb Your Enthusiasm become more mellow with time? In certain aspects, not at all. In the first episode of the new, 12th and potentially last season, there is a moment where Larry David is conversing with a dull party guest and hilariously mimics her words in a loud and exaggerated manner. That particular woman does not appear again.
As the comedic mishaps of Larry David’s alter ego on the sitcom have continued, Curb Your Enthusiasm has become slightly less sharp. The introduction of JB Smoove’s character Leon, Larry’s lecherous and freeloading roommate, a few years ago has added a new dynamic to the comedy as Leon brings his own blunt and independent thinking. Previously, it was primarily Larry’s then-wife Cheryl who would react to his eccentricities. The uncomfortable tension that once permeated the show’s early episodes is not as prevalent.
The change from individual episodes with tight storylines to longer season arcs has reduced the feeling of being trapped. Previously, multiple plots would be introduced within the first few minutes, causing tension as they intertwined around the main character, Larry, leading to chaotic outcomes. Now, in each episode of Curb, we are presented with a collection of minor annoyances and social mishaps, wondering which ones will eventually come together to create subtle conflicts. The ongoing plot drives the main plot points.
This more relaxed approach is effective. Season 11, which aired in 2021, was exceptional. In case you missed it, here’s a summary of the events that unfolded. The brother of a burglar who drowned in Larry’s pool blackmailed him into giving his untalented sister, Maria Sofia (Keyla Monterroso Mejia), a role in his new Netflix comedy, Young Larry. At the same time, Larry dated an alcoholic councilwoman, Irma (Tracey Ullman), in an attempt to overturn a law requiring safety fences around pools. However, he found her to be extremely aggravating. Larry’s plan backfired when he unknowingly stole a pair of shoes from a Holocaust museum exhibit that had belonged to Irma’s grandfather. This caused her to relapse and miss an important council meeting. It’s classic Curb.
A speedy change redirects the return episode to a different situation. The character of Young Larry has achieved success thanks to the unexplainable popularity of Maria Sofia, causing her to become even more arrogant and vulgar. Larry is still in a relationship with the intimidating Irma, as her AA sponsor has convinced him to stay with her for the initial 90 days of her recovery. Eventually, Larry departs from the familiar surroundings of Los Angeles and joins Leon and Maria Sofia on a trip to Atlanta, where he is offered payment to attend a birthday party for an African businessman.
In the first episode, numerous small offenses are introduced, such as Larry’s glasses getting bent by a stranger who tries them on and him having to wear a pair of women’s glasses, as well as a woman named Brooke who insists on being called by her full name. These incidents do not have the same impact as the insightful social commentary that used to garner sympathy for Larry, and some of them do not have any consequences later on. They are simply accumulated without any discernment. Does this mean that Curb is losing its effectiveness? Perhaps slightly, however we still experience the enjoyable unease of witnessing a potential disaster unfold before us.
Additionally, David and his group are incredibly skilled at their craft. Watching the slightly more laid-back version of Curb is similar to attending a concert by a veteran rock band who may have lost some relevance, but still maintain their impressive style. One scene in particular stands out when Larry and his manager, Jeff (played by Jeff Garlin), are having lunch and discover that the slow service is due to their waiter being in mourning. As they complain about their food getting cold, Garlin’s delivery of the line “I ordered a tuna melt – that’s messed up” is funnier than anything most sitcom writers could hope to achieve in their entire careers. This humor is amplified by the fact that David and Garlin, who have been at the top of their game for many years, likely had a great time discussing which food would be the funniest to complain about being cold, ultimately deciding on the perfect answer: tuna melt.
The closing credits of the show feature a mugshot of Larry without glasses, staring at the audience instead of fading to black. As each crew member’s name appears on the screen, the scene becomes increasingly humorous. This is just one example of the show’s effortless brilliance. “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is excellent.