‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ Returns With More Hilariously Inappropriate Comedy in Season 10
Somehow with a new decade we’re getting a new season of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” This is the 10th season of the nearly 20 year-old show fronted by Larry David, who doesn’t back down and keeps the tone hilariously politically incorrect. The first episode of the new season, fitting titled “Happy New Year,” keeps the randomness that is central to the show, but it also works as a test for the audience to see just how far we can accept David’s humor regarding very unfunny subject matter. #MeToo, race relations, and even tattoos are all game.
Still living the life of a privileged senior white guy in L.A., Larry David spends the opening of the new season getting into unintended trouble by making very un-PC questions. Larry and friend Leon (J.B. Smoove) discuss how comfortable they are with their respective skin tones then at the office Larry doesn’t quite understand why his assistant has a new tattoo on her arm but feels uncomfortable discussing it. Even at the gym Larry can’t help but mansplain to an expectant mother, Randy (Lennon Parham) why she shouldn’t be running a treadmill while pregnant. A trip to Mocha Joe’s turns into a major standoff when Larry insists to an irritated Joe (Saverio Guerra) that the coffee is never hot enough, this earns him a ban from the establishment. Unappreciative of the #MeToo movement, Larry goes to a dinner party and stalks the server with his eyes, what he’s really after are the pigs in blankets, but it doesn’t dawn on him that the server doesn’t like to be ogled. Making it worse is that friend Jeff (Jeff Garlin) is being constantly mistaken for Harvey Weinstein. Larry does get tempted, but by his ex-wife Cheryl (Cheryl Hines), who is currently dating Ted Danson but that doesn’t stop them from sleeping together.
In a sense the message of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is that a cantankerous type like Larry doesn’t change with time, he simply adapts to it. Over the years the show has always found a way to push certain buttons or call up specific buzzwords. Two years ago in season nine there was a whole running plot about a Muslim fatwa being issued against Larry over a play, and it didn’t come across convincingly as material. This new season begins with an edgy but more relevant tone. It’s almost predictable that David would comment on the ongoing debate over sexual harassment. He goes just far enough without crossing any red lines. We already know Larry is unsavory, but when he corners the server at the party and accidentally grabs her chest, or when he wipes his hand with a strap from his assistant’s dress, it’s treated as idiotic stumbles from a clueless grump. We’re never supposed to condone Larry’s behavior, just shake our heads at it, even when he grabs a couple’s selfie stick in public and breaks it in half. The bit about Jeff being mistaken for Weinstein, inspiring horrified reactions from women who see him next to Larry, is genuine acidic comedy because in the right suit and jacket Garlin does look like the infamous producer.
Aside from the #MeToo jokes, the rest of “Happy New Year” is either low key or just the same old random humor that keeps this show popular. Larry’s feud with Mocha Joe gets so out of control he leases the space next to the coffee shop, just to open his own to get even. Larry won’t even tolerate friend Richard Lewis getting his caffeine there, demanding absolute loyalty. He also goes on to practically seduce Cheryl at a dinner party by doing a funny bit with her that ends with a quick peck on the lips, and right in front of Ted Danson too. When he drives her home it ends in bed of course. Per Larry’s philosophy it’s fine since they used to be married anyway. He’s that character we meet once in a while in life who truly doesn’t care. It’s not a mask for anything deeper into his psyche. He just doesn’t need to be concerned.
David, a co-creator of “Seinfeld,” again displays the fine art of crafting a comedy that is almost about nothing at all except the very existence of its key persona. Larry is getting older but no less offensive, the in-joke being that he is a walking personification of a clueless L.A. west sider comfortable enough financially to be a jerk all day. It’s still entertaining to watch, because David keeps it lively all these years. After all, “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is practically about nothing except how days go by and barring any major life changes, trolls have a habit of staying the same.
“Curb Your Enthusiasm” season 10 premieres Jan. 19 and airs Sundays at 10:30 p.m. ET on HBO.