Showing remarkable durability for a show that first sprang to life last millenium and is currently in its tenth season—now streaming on Neon—Curb Your Enthusiasm has only compounded Larry David’s focus on the minutiae of daily life since the heady days of Seinfeld.
Stuffed to the gills with content unsuitable for a primetime sitcom, guest stars still clamour to be involved (with season 10 featuring the likes of Laverne Cox, Clive Owen, Isla Fisher and Jon Hamm), and for better or worse, that theme tune still provokes a physical reaction.
Part obsessive, part misanthrope, frequently misunderstood and almost always the architect of his own misfortune, Larry David’s inspired plenty of laughs and loathing over the years. Here Daniel Rutledge identifies ten Curb moments over the years that reveal the quintessential Larry.
Larry’s flamboyant buddy
This season 8 bit is perhaps Larry’s best interaction with a child and Curb Your Enthusiasm is often at its outrageous best when kids are involved. Greg is the 7-year-old son of one of Larry’s friends and he loves Project Runway, fashion and generally being fabulous. Thanks to Larry’s absentminded doodling, Greg also becomes a fan of how Hitler and the Nazis look, which leads to his blurting out “Get a life, Jews!” as maybe his sixth line in the show. But it’s all actually really sweet when Larry buys Greg a sewing machine—to the chagrin of his parents—it’s quintessential Larry David in that he’s bullheadedly doing what he thinks is right, even though his peers and/or society think it’s wrong. This is one of the rare cases when he’s absolutely correct. Apart from the Nazi stuff…
Larry’s beloved aunt
Ever notice how close the word ‘aunt’ is to one of the most offensive words in the English language? Yup. Larry realised the hard way when in season 1 when he wrote the obituary for Cheryl’s aunt and accidentally plopped down a ‘c’ as the first letter. The rest of his family was none too pleased at the error, resulting in a lot of loud, indignant C-bombs being yelled at Larry, who also gets kicked out of his house for a bit. It’s a quintessential Larry David moment as it shows how even though he’s obnoxious and weird, most of his downfalls are simple, honest mistakes.
Larry’s last words
It might sound crazy, but one time Larry died. At the end of season 5 he fully died and went to heaven for a while, where Sacha Baron Cohen and Dustin Hoffman were angels guiding him around. It’s an amazing episode, but the quintessential Larry David moment is what he says to his wife Cheryl in the hospital bed just before he passes. It’s not about how much he loves her, of course, but getting her to admit that she left a Sopranos DVD out of its case and allowed it to go missing. He even gets her to acknowledge his ‘system’ of leaving the DVD case on top of the DVD player, then putting the disc straight back into its case upon removing it from the player. It’s such a cool thing to say to your loved one just before you die.
Larry respects wood
And he demands other people respect wood, too. This storyline starts in the great Seinfeld reunion of season 7, when Julia Louis-Dreyfus accuses Larry of leaving a ring stain on her wooden table and wanting hundreds of dollars to repair it. This leads to disputes with several other people, including Jerry Seinfeld, who it turns out “discriminates” by not caring about staining lower grade woods. Larry passionately respects all types of wood, he says, be they pine, walnut, oak or whatever. Much of this season sees Larry trying to woo his ex-wife, Cheryl. But in quintessential Larry David style, when he’s finally going to sleep with Cheryl for the first time in years, he notices her leaving a ring stain on a wooden table. His respect for wood fucks it up.
Larry’s water bottle
Season 2 is one of the very best with its season-long arc of Larry trying to pitch a new TV show to various networks and stuffing them all up. It’s packed with incredible episodes, like the Shrimp Incident and Thor, but the closing scene of The Doll is one of the show’s greatest cringey moments. While in negotiations with ABC, Larry accidentally traumatises an executive of the network’s daughter by cutting her doll’s hair. He also stops guarding an unlockable toilet while Cheryl was peeing one time. Later when Cheryl gets her revenge on Larry and the ABC exec’s daughter bumps into him in the toilet, he has hidden a water bottle in his pants. In the crotch of his pants. The child hugs him and, well, hilarity ensues.
Larry’s carpool buddy
A lot of people rank this season 4 episode as their favourite ever and it’s easy to see why. It rules. Larry has been trying to join a country club that normally doesn’t let Jews in and gets off jury service so he can go to a baseball game by pretending to be racist himself. He also gets his buddy Marty Funkhouser arrested, while he’s grieving the death of his father. But the quintessential Larry David move comes when he’s finally got tickets to the Dodgers game but gets stuck in traffic on the way. His genius-slash-very rich man solution is to pick up a sex worker named Monena and pay her to accompany him, simply so he can use the carpool lane and make the game. Monena ends up hitting it off with Larry’s elderly father, too, as the three of them smoke weed together. It’s kind of beautiful. Also, this episode helped exonerate an innocent man accused of murder in real life, which makes it even more special.
Larry’s mother dies
This is a quintessential Larry David moment more for the way his family acts than he himself. I couldn’t believe this the first time I saw it, it’s so brilliantly acted and so hilarious, but weirdly quite believable. Midway through season 3, Larry visits his dad, who has been acting weird. “How’s mom doing?” asks Larry. “Oh, you know how people do. How’s New York?” his dad responds. She “didn’t want to bother him”, you see, so Larry wasn’t informed of just how gravely unwell she was, her subsequent death or even the funeral. “Oh, you know how people do”! It’s an incredible scene. Later, Larry realises he can use his mother’s death to his advantage in some pretty Larry ways, too—like as an excuse to get his wife to have sex with him even when she’s not in the mood.
Larry gets kamikazied
Over the years Larry has had a few run-ins with Japanese people and while the ‘shit bow’ bit is great, season 5‘s Kamikaze Bingo episode is the Larry-est Larry David. Making jokes that involve Japanese people and centre on kamikaze pilots and teriyaki chicken sounds like tired old white man shit, but here it’s somehow brilliant. Larry offends a Japanese family by suggesting any kamikaze pilot who survived the war must have been a bad kamikaze pilot, or perhaps a chicken. Nobody would say that, but Larry does—then eats nuts while apologising to the veteran’s son, who subsequently attempts suicide as he’s so distraught. It all comes to a head over an allegedly rigged bingo game at an old folks home, where the former kamikaze pilot lines Larry up with his motorised wheelchair and fulfils his destiny. This is the number one most-watched episode in my household and I love it to bits.
Larry’s 9-year-old friend
What should you call a female child’s genitals? In season 7, one of Larry’s friends refers to her 9-year-old daughter’s as her “pussy”. At first, Larry looks a little taken aback, but then starts using the term himself while referring to the child. At the same time, the 9-year-old gets Larry’s number off her mother and the pair start texting each other and forming a friendship—albeit a slightly annoying one for Larry. But as he continues referring to part of her anatomy with that particular word and they continue texting each other, well, you can imagine how it appears to other people and how it will all end up for Larry.
Larry’s MAGA hat
So this one’s from season 10, which is currently streaming, and you’ve probably read about it in the news. The orange hemorrhoid currently acting as US president tweeted a clip of this episode because he didn’t understand it was mocking him and the shitheads who follow him. Living in a part of Los Angeles where people aren’t too fond of fraud, corruption, racism and the other shit Trump stands for means wearing a MAGA hat works as a people repellent—something Larry uses to his advantage. Want to get out of an annoying meeting? Chuck on the MAGA cap. Don’t want people to sit beside you? Or want to get a bullying thug to give you a break? Easy, chuck on the headpiece of the dumbest movement in modern US history! Make America Great Again!