For the Season 12 Premiere of ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm,’ Larry David Takes His Show on the Road

A very cordial review of ‘Curb’s trip to Atlanta
For the Season 12 Premiere of ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm,’ Larry David Takes His Show on the Road

Warning: contains spoilers for the Season 12 premiere of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Last night, HBO aired the premiere of the 12th and maybe final season of Curb Your Enthusiasm. The spiritual sequel to Seinfeld finds that show’s co-creator, Larry David, playing a loosely fictionalized version of himself, hanging around Los Angeles, getting into arguments about the pettiest imaginable breaches of the social contract and usually skating on lasting consequences thanks to his considerable wealth. Though fans must already be bracing for the possibility of saying goodbye to this version of Larry, the gold David has been supplying during the Season 12 press tour and the ending of the premiere episode offer the thrilling promise of a Larry David who has even less to lose.

We rejoin Larry at a low point. Irma (Tracey Ullman) is still in his life because, at the request of one of her fellow Anonymous Alcoholics, Larry has agreed not to get rid of her until she has six months’ sober; he’s apparently planning to do it as soon as he is able, and is marking off days on a calendar he keeps in a locked drawer. He’s also still tortured by the overwhelming success of Maria Sofia (Keyla Monterroso Mejia), a fame monster of his own conflicted creation. He briefly escapes Irma when he and Leon (J.B. Smoove) go to Atlanta for a paid personal appearance Larry’s been hired to make at a rich businessman’s birthday party. Unfortunately for Larry, Maria Sofia’s been hired for the party too. While he’s out of town, Larry spars with Leon’s Aunt Rae (Ellia English) over her stretching out his glasses with her big pumpkin head; with Ligaya (Ann Hurd), the housekeeper at his hotel, whose mostly silent reproach lets him know she thinks he’s made a bigger mess than most other guests do; and with Michael (Sharlto Copley), the birthday boy, who tries to weasel out of paying Larry’s appearance fee since Larry violated his contract by failing to be cordial.

Some of the episode’s gags are straight-down-the-middle classic Curb. When Larry, Susie (Susie Essman) and Jeff (Jeff Garlin) get impatient that their bereaved restaurant server is taking too long to deliver their food because he’s acknowledging other patrons’ condolences, anyone who’s seen the show before knows Larry is going to go get the tray himself; even the server (Adam Lustick) doesn’t seem surprised. And as soon as Maria Sofia shows up at the airport with her emotional support corgi Pachuca, Larry and Leon’s contempt both for the dog’s “job” and Maria Sofia’s supposed need for it are extremely predictable. The problem Larry causes at the party revolves around Michael calling a friend “Brookie” but making sure Larry knows he shouldn’t — a prohibition Brooke herself (Kalilah Harris) repeats when she meets Larry. Clearly, Larry wouldn’t have cared to call Brooke anything but the name on her birth certificate until he thought being forbidden to was a sign that others are of higher status than Larry himself. We’ve been watching David be “Larry” off and on for almost 24 years: It’s never a big surprise that Larry picks any fight, but the joy of his character is that each individual fight is a unique, trifling snowflake.

Then we arrive at the episode’s final sequence. In her earlier scene, Aunt Rae had told Larry that an important election was imminent, and as Larry is headed to the airport with Maria Sofia, he stops at Aunt Rae’s polling place to return the glasses he borrowed from her after she bent his frames — which are, by the way, a rose tortoiseshell cat-eye situation. Larry’s been getting some looks since he’s had to wear them, but he’s pulled them off with panache.

Aunt Rae’s been standing in line in the sun for two and a half hours already, and while Larry is absolutely a jerk, he’s not inhumane: He ducks into the waiting town car and grabs Aunt Rae a bottle of water. No sooner has she taken a grateful sip than two local cops arrest Larry for violating Georgia’s 2021 Election Integrity Act — because, for real, it was, until recently, illegal in Georgia to give water to citizens waiting to vote and such voter suppression efforts merit discussion, even if the forum for said discussion seems very incongruous, like this one is! As he is led away, Larry protests: “I WAS BEING CORDIAL!!!” 

The mugshot that closes the episode is vaguely familiar:

This weekend, Saturday Night Live not only approvingly let hard-right candidate Nikki Haley speak for herself; it also made Ayo Edebiri, the episode’s young, Black, female host, set Haley up to make a “cute” joke about pretending the Civil War had nothing to do with slaverySNL has been toothless in its political sketches for decades, but I still wasn’t expecting a tougher take on election satire to come from Curb. Here’s to a final season full of even more burning bridges, and one that will shame supposed mainstays of political comedy into upping their game.


Scroll down for the next article
Forgot Password?