Curb Your Enthusiasm, the improvised Seinfeld, is simply one of the funniest, most brilliant shows on television right now. Following Seinfeld co-creator Larry David and all of his mischievous antics, the series celebrated its 100th episode on Sunday with its Season 10 finale. This past season has followed in the same footsteps as every other season: having an overarching story the season is building towards, but filled with all the great side feuds and guest appearances you’ve come to expect. And when it comes to upholding the Curb Your Enthusiasm formula, Season 10 does not disappoint.
Season 10 kicks off with Larry David finding himself in the midst of a potential lawsuit from his secretary, Alice, over sexual harassment. But as defined by Jeff in the first season of the show, Larry is merely a “victim of circumstance.” This lawsuit could ruin Larry, but Alice conveniently forgets everything after choking on a scone. This scone is the lead-in into the season’s larger story, a spite store called Latte Larry’s that opens right next door to Larry’s rival, Mocha Joe.
Fans of the show will remember Mocha Joe from Season 7, who feuded with Larry over what qualified as a favor. But after a bad experience in Mocha Joe’s new store in the season’s premiere, Larry sets out to run him out of business with Latte Larry’s.
While the season’s story might not be as strong as previous seasons, like Season 9’s Fatwa arc or Season 7’s reunion special, it certainly makes for some entertaining episodes. It’s fun to see Larry having a clear enemy for the season. It’s also fun to see all of Larry’s ideas for how to make a better coffee shop — bolted down tables, self-heating cups, redesigned urinals — actually play out in a tangible store. It’s one of those moments in the show where you think Larry’s ideas may actually be genius and might just work, and then in the finale it all goes up in flames!
The season’s strongest episode for me was Episode 4, “You’re Not Going to Get Me to Say Anything Bad About Mickey.” The series is at its best, I think, when it focuses on the dynamic between Leon and Larry. Leon is probably the single funniest side character, and many of his off-the-cuff remarks in this season had me cracking up.
This episode focuses on them specifically trying to sneak out coffee beans for their store, and of course it doesn’t go the way they want it to. The episode is packed with hilarious moment after hilarious moment, memorable lines, and classic Curb antics. The season’s weakest episode for me was Episode 2, “Side Sitting”. While not a bad episode at all, it just didn’t have nearly as many consistent laughs as the other episodes, and I found myself getting bored throughout it.
Season 10 may have featured the most cameo appearances out of any season, including Jon Hamm, Vince Vaughn, Timothy Oliphant, Isla Fisher, Clive Owen, Fred Armisen, Alan Tudyk, Nick Kroll, Jonah Hill, Sean Penn, and Mila Kunis. The cameo appearances has always been one of Curb’s biggest strengths. And the side stories involving all of these actors are just hilarious.
The season finale features the first true appearance of Joey Funkhouser, who we learned in a previous season had recently transitioned. Here, Joey works for Larry at the store. While I was watching the episode, one of the things I was wondering was whether or not the actor playing Joey was actually transgender. Hollywood has the unfortunate track record of casting cisgender actors in transgender roles, and I feared Curb may have done the same. But after the episode ended I looked it up, and Joey is played by a transgender actor named Chaz Bono, which was relieving to learn.
Had they cast a cisgender actor for the role, some of the jokes — especially those made by Joey — would have come across as disingenuous or mean spirited. It is important for transgender characters to be played by transgender actors because the alternative can overshadow and cloud everything the character says and does.
What makes Season 10 so great is that it isn’t any different from the other seasons. It delivers on exactly what you want and are expecting from Curb Your Enthusiasm, and it doesn’t deviate from that at all. This is one of the most consistent comedy series out there, and a lot of that comes from the show being so deeply rooted in Larry David’s own DNA as a person.
The character of Larry David is simply the real life Larry, played up to an extreme albeit. The themes of the show are all part of Larry’s personality. And what has always stood out about Curb to me is that all of the dialogue — and the show’s most memorable and finest moments — are all improvised. So much of what is said is so funny because it couldn’t have been written in a writer’s room; it can only come from on-the-spot improv.
HBO says they will continue to make seasons of Curb Your Enthusiasm as long as Larry David wants to do it. For all our sakes, I hope Larry keeps doing Curb until the very end. It’s a show we all need in our lives, and one I hope to continue to look forward to every year.
Author: Nathanael Molnár, originally published [3/27/2020]