If ever the world needs Larry David, it’s surely now. Curb Your Enthusiasm has returned, appropriately, just at the point the world seems to have lost its mind. One of the big misnomers about Larry and this series is that Larry is a complete idiot for no reason – that’s never been true. Larry *is* a jerk, 100%. But almost every time, there’s absolutely a reason, be it a social more, moral point, or simply some level of justice not being served by everyday rules and regulations. Larry has always been a social warrior – often offensive, often insensitive, frequently oblivious to when he should stay quiet, but so incapable of not speaking his mind, he lost his marriage because of it. Season Nine, then, should continue Larry’s mission to make people *understand*.
‘Foisted!’ begins with Larry’s plans to make ‘Fatwa! The Musical’, which has to be up there as one of the most intentionally hostile, sensitive and politically awkward things Larry David has, indeed, foisted upon us as a comedian. Its interesting because in almost every other season, Larry seems to come back to show business in some way; making a new comedy show, starring in The Producers on Broadway, or bringing back Seinfeld, Larry seems interested in unpicking different levels and layers of the performance world. It’s been over a decade since he went into the theatre so now creating a play that could make Mel Brooks’ skewing of the Nazis look positively tame suggests Larry isn’t just back, he wants to make a statement in these difficult political times.
Statements are fine but they need to be backed up with comedy, and ‘Foisted!’ doesn’t quite hit the mark in all its beats. Oddly enough the central gag, about the idea of ‘foisting’ people you don’t want in your life as employees onto others, in this case a severely constipated & useless assistant (what happened to Antoinette?), is strangely the weakest comedic beat – though its almost worth it to place the ever fantastic ‘lamper’ Leon (JB Smoove) as Larry’s new assistant. “This is Larry David’s office, what the fuck is up?!”.
Side gags pay off better – Larry’s horrendously insensitive joke about Richard Lewis’ dead parakeet is thrown back in Larry’s face brilliantly at the end (their interplay is always just sublime), and Larry’s meddling in the lesbian bride/groom debate is funny, shouty Curb almost at its best.
Much like certain episodes in the previous season, something just doesn’t completely hang together with ‘Foisted!’ and its hard to pinpoint exactly what. The show seems to think it has to shout every other line these days, or have Larry & Susie (Susie Essman) shout at each other multiple times an episode (when in previous seasons their conflicts were fewer but much sweeter). The level of farce, and clever gags, are sometimes undercut here with the propensity to obnoxiously bellow and Curb has always been better when it picks its moments to let loose. Equally, sometimes, gags feel forced – such as the opening conflict in the shower between Larry and his soap.
It passed the multiple laugh test, though, which Curb Your Enthusiasm is almost always likely to do in some way. ‘Foisted!’ has plenty of good ideas, and establishes a potentially very politically incorrect, controversial central plot line for the season (also, totally calling Cheryl & Ted Danson hooking up here), but its not classic Curb.
Let’s hope we get some unmissable episodes though, either way, let’s face it, the world is a better place when Larry David is back again.
Curb Your Enthusiasm is airing on Sky every Monday. Let us know what you made of the episode…