In ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ Season 11, Larry David Hilariously Trolls Through a Post-Covid L.A.
Larry David was always ahead of the curve with “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” Long before streaming and binging became entrenched words in our TV lingo, he made the kind of series that can easily be watched in multiple servings as meandering, self-contained yarns. Now entering its 11th season, David changes little to nothing about the format. His hilarious, privileged troll still simply wanders through the westside of Los Angeles, clueless to the passage of time until someone points it out. He could care less about being rude in public and even the Covid-19 pandemic is an invisible presence and not some harsh reality. We can’t stop watching Larry David because he’s the ultimate anti-hero in comedy, by not being heroic at all.
The world has rapidly changed since season ten premiered in January 2020, but you wouldn’t really know it while watching this new season premiere, “The Five-Foot Fence.” It opens in classic David fashion as Larry wakes up in the middle of the night in his lavish home and finds a dead burglar floating in the pool. But Larry is the one in actual hot water because his pool lacks a fence that’s up to code. He’s got too much on his mind right now too, liking pitching a new show to Netflix about his youth, including his days as a chauffeur and trying to kill off an old, annoying uncle. Meanwhile friend Albert Brooks is inviting everyone to his own funeral, meaning a staged funeral where friends can shower the kind of praise actually deceased people will never get to enjoy. While these plans are being made, Larry starts feeling the pangs of age when he starts harassing a guy who owes him $6,000 over a golfing trip, but might remember because of early on-set Alzheimer’s. Larry also starts dating Lucy Liu, but she doubts his physical capacity when he walks into a glass window.
Returning to “Curb Your Enthusiasm” has the quirky joy of catching up with a pack of likeable Hollywood elites, warts and all. Larry will eternally be a jerk and David’s delivery of the comedy remains flawless, even when he wonders aloud if Alzheimer’s can ever be an excuse for robbery. The “Seinfeld” co-creator has never lost his expert touch in making the mundane hilariously cataclysmic. Anyone would be lucky to get a date with Lucy Liu, but all it takes to shatter Larry’s chances to spend the night is walking into some glass, which brings up all sorts of questions of what he can still do at his age. When he badgers his friend over those $6,000, is the friend forgetting or is Larry the one starting to suffer mental slips? There are other, light winks at current cultural trends like Leon (J.B. Smoove) boasting about crowdfunding online to take his girlfriend to China.
The two best comedic centerpieces of the premiere involve Larry’s fence problem and Albert’s living funeral plans. Since Larry’s property was not up to code, the Mexican restaurant owner whose brother was the burglar sees a window to take advantage. He’ll back away from litigation if Larry agrees to cast the Mexican’s daughter in his new show. It doesn’t matter that she’s a bit curvier than the thin Jewish girl in Larry’s script, but it’s better than dealing with lawyer fees. Keyla Monterroso Mejia has great comedic absurdity in this role. Watch out for the moment where she “auditions” for the part and Larry has no choice but to feign enthusiasm.
“Five-Foot Fence” then culminates with Albert’s funeral, where Larry can’t help himself and delivers a hilariously biting monologue. Jon Hamm also appears to share a few words which he over-rehearses to get certain Jewish terms just right. It all goes to hell anyway when Larry walks off to find the bathroom and instead finds Albert’s stash of hand sanitizer and other Covid essentials, thus forever tagging him as a “Covid hoarder” in the shocked eyes of all the guests. It’s the one direct reference to the pandemic in the episode and it makes sense. For the well-off in Los Angeles, if not most places, the pandemic was a background nuisance and gathering supplies was financially easy. Larry and Albert end the episode in style, clinking wine glasses at an orchestra performance at the Greek. It’s another fun opening for a new season of this show that seems as sturdy as David’s comedic delivery and Larry’s ego.
“Curb Your Enthusiasm” season eleven premieres Oct. 24 and airs Sundays at 10:30 p.m. ET on HBO.