*Minor Spoilers*

After a 6 year hiatus, in October of 2017 Larry David returned to our screens with the 9th season of Curb Your Enthusiasm. After a few moments of watching, I was laughing so much that I had forgotten that so much time had passed. While the season was not worse than previous ones, Larry and the team had done well to maintain the same level of quality that we have seen before, if not maybe falling into a little bit of slap-stick more than usual.

For those of you who have never seen it, then the story follows the creator of Seinfeld; Larry David, leading an exaggerated version of his normal life, where nearby every other person is socially awkward, leading him to appear almost alien in the world around him. Other celebrities from similar eras appear (such as Ted Danson and Michael J. Fox), again as exaggerated versions of themselves, as well as other celebrities appearing as entirely new characters (like Brian Cranston and Dustin Hoffman).
Most of the show is Larry just trying to live his life, but he can’t ever seem to bite his lip and ignore what someone has said. If someone doesn’t thank someone to an equal amount to the service that was provided, or if someone’s apparent ‘filtered’ water is actually tap water, then Larry will point it out to them. Larry is basically a social assassin and will 99.9% of the time ruin a lovely meal with friends, a date he is attending, or any other event he is currently attending.
This will in turn blow up, causing some seriously awkward moments between everyone, often making Larry out to be the bad guy in everyone’s eyes, and eventually the issue in question will often come back to bite him in the arse later on in the episode. This is the normal way the show works.

This season starts with Larry emerging from his own 6 year hiatus whereby he has written a musical; Fatwa – which is an Islamic faith related assassination contract (? I want to say), which follows the story of Salman Rushdie, who had a fatwa put out on him and survived a number of assassination attempts on his life. The story slightly mocks the Ayatollah and in this day and age, where people are very carefully trending on eggshells around Islam, this does not go down well and Larry has a real life fatwa put out on him. Larry is now in his 70s so it is understandable how something he might have thought was funny, and would have been a few decades ago when his show Seinfield was incredibly popular, was now offensive in this overly PC world that we live in today. Basically having a stab at how easily everyone is offended by absolutely everything, and how much we in western society fear terrorism, especially ones from the Middle-East.
A scene in a later episode has a suspicious looking Arabic man give Larry so much concern that he calls him out saying he has a gun, creating mass chaos at the event he is currently at, when it turns out the man is completely harmless.
It is funny as even thought Larry has this fatwa out on him, you can tell that he wanted to portray how western people feel when encountering Muslims in today’s society. As not all Muslims are terrorists, but it is easy for people to be looking at one with concern if they are sat on the same plane as one. As racist as that might sound, unfortunately that is the way of the world now given how radical groups like ISIS can attack at any moment… but this is beyond the point. Larry David makes fun of how scared western people can be of Muslims under these circumstances.

Larry spends the first half of the season hiding, or undercover/in disguise, because he is scared that someone is going to complete (?) the fatwa and kill him, since Larry’s hit contract has become national news.
A lot of this fatwa story is where most of the “slap-stick” comedy aspects come from, but there are a few others in the middle of the season, such as the Civil War Re-enactment with an Afghanistan war veteran (which you can see the outcome coming a mile off, but you are just anticipating the moment when it actually happens), as well as a duel at a paintball site where someone wants Larry to face him because they demand satisfaction.

Thankfully this is not the key focus of the comedy in Curb Your Enthusiasm. That is the awkward moments, which this season of the show is not short of. Many times I found myself with my hand covering my face from where I could not bare to look at the situation that was unfolding.
I remember in one scene of an episode this season when someone approaches Larry and his friends at the restaurant of a country club to say hello. Naturally they ask how he is and he tells them that he has recently had a baby. He gets a photo up on his phone to show it, and the guys are all “Ah she’s so cute”, or “congratulations”, but Larry’s inability to not say whatever pops into his head replies with “She looks a little Chinese”. While it was hilariously out of the blue, without realising, I had face palmed myself and could feel my toes curling with embarrassment.
Of course the man was offended by the comment and created a big awkward moment, which then continued on throughout the episode, eventually coming full-circle at the end of the episode.

This awkward situation comedy is classic with Ricky Gervais shows and is more of a British humour, where as American is a little more on the slap-stick side of things, which is why Curb Your Enthusiasm has always been a breath of fresh-air for me. It is an almost a love/hate relationship whereby we love it as it is funny, but we hate it for the uncomfortable situations that have been created because of it. I have seen other shows attempt this style of humour and failed miserable, as this humour requires insight into what nearby every person on the plant finds awkward.

As I have said, a lot of the time it is over exaggerated and so you would never encounter people like this in the real world, or if you did, then they would be the odd ones out, but in the world of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry sometimes feels like the only normal one there. I have often found myself agreeing with Larry for the most part, although I would not point it out at the time.

Going back to this season, all of the regular returns, such as Larry’s friend Jeff and his Larry hating wife; Susie. Richard Lewis, as well as Larry’s ex-wife Cheryl, who is now romantically involved with Ted Danson, which obviously leads to some cringe-worthy moments. The best character who thankfully makes a return is J. B. Smoove’s; Leon Black, who is Larry’s black friend living in his guest house. Leon is the complete opposite to Larry, he is young, hip, a ladies man, as well as ghetto. His black-focused humour, one liners, and general outline in life had me in stitches this year, as he had done in previous season. I will say that he is not used enough, but in a show where each episode is only 35 minutes long, it is okay to not overuse the character, as the audience (like myself) naturally want to see more.

My only criticism for this show links back to my earlier comments of the basic formula of the show. Normally things that a laid out in an episode come back to bite the characters (normally Larry) in the arse, or alternatively, something that has affected Larry comes back to bite another character, making Larry look right all along, and while this does happen a few times throughout the season, a lot of the situations fail to appear ever again, leaving us wondering if that was just a throwaway joke in the middle of an episode, which is not normally Larry David’s way. He is more clever than that. The show is often layered and that is what makes it so unique. But there were a few times this season where I felt a little disappointed at the end of the episode.
However, having said that, a couple of this things (not many, but a couple) do make a return in the season finale, and by the end of the season, I thought the show had wrapped up nicely.

Overall, season 9 of Curb Your Enthusiasm is a return to what makes the show so great. It might not be something that you realised you had missed (if you have watched the previous seasons), but once it starts and the first few awkward moments appear, you suddenly find yourself remembering all those amazingly funny moments for days gone.
While it does have a few hiccups along the way, it is not any issue that has not already featured in a previous Curb season. That is what is best to take away from this review; if you are a Larry David fan and enjoyed the previous seasons, then this is more of the same level of comedy. It is no better than the others, but no worse at the same time. It is a plateau.
I have no idea whether or not they will make another season, or if that is it for Larry David and his adventures in this strange alien world that looks and feels almost like ours, but if it is the end, thanks for gracing our presence with your comedy once again Larry David. It was good to have you back.

Please follow and like us: