What sets “Curb Your Enthusiasm” apart from your average comedy series is the brilliant reality Larry David masterfully captures. The “Seinfeld” co-creator and writer knows how to present relatable social and personal situations in a way that is genius, cringe-worthy and downright hilarious. He is the master of awkward tension, the king of confrontation.
Along with David, Jeff Garlin stars as Larry’s manager Jeff Green, Susie Essman as his wife Sussie Green and Cheryl Hines plays Larry’s wife, Cheryl David. The HBO series has pushed the limits of comedy, political correctness and social commentary, creating a timeless masterpiece that established a relevancy in the life of audiences of eighteen to twenty-four-year-olds and anyone forty years or older. Deciding the top episode from each season is like deciding who the best Beatle is, but here it goes: The Top Episodes from “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” by season.
Season 1: Porno Gil
Seemingly every “Curb” episode, there is a chain of events that develops and comes full circle at the end. In this case, Larry accepts a dinner invitation from an old friend, and former porn-star, Gil (Bob Odenkirk).
As he famously mastered in “Seinfeld,” Larry knows how to create phrases that seem so common you would have thought you made it up yourself. Larry and Cheryl leave the party after a series of debates and conflicts with Gil’s wife, particularly because Larry breaks an expensive vase and has a problem taking off his shoes for the party.
Larry realizes he has forgotten his watch inside and has to re-enter the house for a “double goodbye.” A common theme throughout the series is Larry’s inability to follow other peoples’ rules, which puts him into similar situations during the show’s run.
Season 2: The Doll
To give some context, Larry spawned an idea earlier in the season for a new sit-com, eventually presenting the idea to Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who played Elaine Benes in “Seinfeld.”
After successfully pitching the series to ABC, Larry is invited to attend a two-part screening followed by an after-party. At the first-part of the screening, Larry is asked to throw away a half-empty water bottle by a woman who ends up at the party later in the night. During the party, Larry becomes troubled when he finds the bathroom has no lock. So Larry does Larry and walks up the stairs, finding the young daughter of the studio head playing with her dolls. After she allows him to use her bathroom, Larry befriends the girl and helps her give one of her dolls a haircut. After he returns to the party, Cheryl asks Larry to keep watch as she uses the bathroom.
However, after the daughter realizes the hair won’t grow back, she runs to her mother hysterically crying and the party erupts in outrage. When this forces Larry to leave his post, the ABC chief walks in on Cheryl while she’s in the bathroom. Jeff’s daughter has the same doll, so he and Larry steal the doll’s head and return it to the wife of the ABC executive. However, the situation turns sour (per usual) at the second part of the screening, when Sussie sees her daughter’s doll and calls out Larry and Jeff.
Larry once again needs to use the restroom, but cannot go in the men’s room because of the odor. He asks Cheryl to keep watch as he uses the women’s room, but she sees a chance for revenge and leaves her guard. As Larry gears to leave the bathroom, he stashes his water bottle in his pants so he can bring it into the screening. Unfortunately, the young girl walks into the bathroom and sees Larry. To thank him for returning the doll, she gives him a hug, only to feel something not so pleasant in his pants.
Season 3: The Grand Opening
Throughout Season 3, Larry becomes involved in the establishment of a restaurant, and through the many struggles they face, finding a chef proves to be a major problem. In the season finale, Larry fires the current chef after he sees the man wearing a wig in public, tricking Larry into thinking he was fine with his baldness. After an encounter with LA’s top food critic at a dodgeball event in which Larry injuries the man’s thumbs, Larry later tries to apologize to the man. After the critic finds out he needs a chef, he recommends someone to Larry and saves the day—or does he?
Larry sees that the new chef has numbers on his arm, a signifier of being a Holocaust survivor and hires him immediately. As the day progresses, they figure out the chef suffers from Tourette’s syndrome. During the opening night, Larry sees that the numbers on the chef’s arm is not a tattoo, but his lottery numbers. The chef then curses out loud, causing the crowd to stop and stare. Larry steps in and saves the day by shouting another curse, causing the restaurant to laugh hysterically, joining in on the hilarity.
Season 4: The Car Pool Lane
As it is my perhaps all-time favorite episode, I am going to prevent any spoilers to those who have never seen the show. If that is the case, I recommend this episode to get you started if you want to get a glimpse into the twisted mind of Larry David.
To give a little premise of the episode, Larry gets two tickets to a sold-out LA Dodgers game. He also informs his dad that he will find him something to help with his glaucoma. After Jeff bails on the game and the LA traffic grows, Larry becomes distraught. However, Larry gets a brilliant idea to use the car pool lane, and picks up a prostitute. The rest is to be viewed at your pleasure.
Season 5: The Seder
To those of the Jewish faith, this episode centering on Larry hosting a Seder at his house is particularly relatable. During the day, Larry befriends a sex offender who helps him with his golf game.
After the sex offender tells Larry he will be alone for the holiday, Larry invites him to celebrate Passover at his place. Troubles ensue when Cheryl and the rest of the guests, including his elderly neighbors, realize who Larry’s new friend is. Like most episodes, the conclusion is epic and genius.
Season 6: The TiVo Guy
Due to the importance of this episode to the plot and dynamic of the series’ overall story arc, I will refrain from spoilers once again. The basic context for this episode is that Cheryl phones Larry while she is going through heavy turbulence on an airplane.
As she tells Larry of the horrific event, Larry cuts her short because he has the TiVo guy at the house. Such is the case for many of Larry’s encounters: He disregards what his wife is saying and tells her he will call back later.
Season 7: Seinfeld
This season finale is perhaps the top-to-bottom best “Curb: season.
After many years of CBS begging Larry to do a “Seinfeld” reunion, he finally agrees. The entire season becomes a reunion, and all the old stars from the mega-90s-sit-com make appearances throughout the season. As Larry does best, quarrels and incidents arise that cause beef between himself and Jason Alexander in particular, the actor who played George Costanza on “Seinfeld.”
After Jason initially quits, Larry steps in as George, playing “himself.” Larry’s brilliant non-reunion by having a reunion on his new show is an example of his pure genius, as well as his uniqueness as a writer.
Season 8: Palestinian Chicken
As mentioned previously, I will refrain from spoilers from this particular episode because I believe it is the best episode in the entire series.
To keep it short, Larry’s ability to epitomize thousands of years of religious conflict between the Jewish people and Palestinians into a LA chicken joint exemplifies his social awareness. This episode is a pure comedic masterpiece, and even if you are not a fan of Larry David’s comedy, I guarantee satisfaction with this episode.