Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Review: Enthusiasm Curbed as Episode 1 of Larry David’s Final Season Shows His Apathy, Jokes Wearing Thin


The first episode of the final season of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” aired last night on HBO.

It was pretty, pretty bad — which surprised me because I have loved this show.

But this episode — maybe called “Cordial” — was kind of shrill and out of the usually spectacular rhythm of past seasons.

The plot: Larry gets invited to Atlanta to mingle at a rich guy’s birthday. The guy is a white South African his wife is Black. Larry insults the wife, and the guests. We’ve been here before. The rich guy ultimately reneges on the contract drawn up by Jeff.

Hilarity does not ensue. I felt like I was watching a take on “Curb,” and the Larry character rather than the real thing. It seemed like the real Larry was trying to re-create the TV character instead of doing something fresh and new.

One plot line has Larry losing his glasses and having to wear the cat eye specs of an older woman Leon’s aunt. It made no sense. Atlanta, like every city, is full of optical shops and pharmacies. Larry could have replaced the glasses in two minutes. Instead he got to make fun of the aunt’s head size, which looked pretty normal. He claimed she stretched out his glasses.

Larry also has a run-in with a hotel housekeeper. Instead of being clever it comes off as another attack on a non-Caucasian person who is not a big enough personality to pick on. And, to boot, the housekeeper doesn’t come off as wise or smart. She’s made out to be an idiot who does something stupid. Also featured in the episode is the always harmoniously weird Leon (JB Smoove) and Maria Elena (Keyla Monterroso Mejia), the Latinx actress from Larry’s fictional TV series who should have been written out of this season. Her purpose was served last season. Now she’s just a target.

I don’t know what the rest of Season 12 looks like. HBO wouldn’t send more episodes. I guess they know it’s not good. I hope it’s alright. I wouldn’t “Curb” to end on a sour note, even though it’s a sour show. There are so many genius seasons and episodes in the catalog. Nothing can take away from them. But maybe David’s waning interest is showing up now. You can feel it.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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