Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Curb Your Enthusiasm, Season 8: “The Divorce”

Expect things to be spoiled after the jump

When we left Cheryl and Larry in season 7 of Curb Your Enthusiasm, the former Mrs. David had a certain look on her face that screamed, “How did I get myself back into this mess.” Rest assured, though, there is no happiness for Larry (of course he bungles up the attempt to re-ignite the flame between him and Cheryl), and the beginning of season 8 lets the viewer know from the onset by naming the episode “The Divorce.” Now, what David as a writer is so good at is getting the audience to think the episode is about one thing, but in actuality showing us that it’s something completely different by episodes end. I was expecting Larry and Cheryl to finally end things, but I was laughing uproariously at the second divorce we witness in this episode.

When Marty Funkhouser and his wife are eating brunch with Larry and Jeff and Susie, Larry gives some advice that ruins Marty’s plans for a solo business trip (“I just like to spread my wings and fly!”) to London. What follows is an episode that is as worthy as previous Curb premiers. The divorce I was thinking was going to happen (Jeff and Susie) is nixed within the opening moments of the show when Jeff gives an ill-advised hypothetical about he and Susie getting a divorce. Susie lets him know that it will never happen in a way that only Susie Essman can (and that we’ve come to expect from her). So, at least for now Susie and Jeff are intact (surprising considering all of the ways Jeff has so oafishly had affairs), and thank goodness. I was concerned that the series would split them up and take away, in the process, one of the show’s funniest dynamics.

The tampon scene is what will be most talked about (and remembered) when people talk about “The Divorce.” It’s something that David writes better than anyone else, and it’s also something that he usually pays off brilliantly in that Larry David, circular plot kind of way. However, the payoff feels a little flat (especially with the girl scouts) when compared to the other ways David the curmudgeon has gotten his comeuppance. But those are small nits to pick after seven seasons; there are so many moments that work so well in that unique Curb way, that I didn’t mind the payoff being less than stellar (especially since the set-up with Jewish/non-Jewish lawyer stuff was so good).

As for the rest of the show, there were plenty of highlights:

  • Larry's observations about the size of his lawyers desk was one of those great moments where he has no idea how inappropriate he is (and after watching the episode from season seven again, where Marty springs the dirtiest of jokes on Jerry at the table read, I realized why he and Marty are such good friends) and just blurts out whatever is on his mind. His lawyer’s reaction – “we’ll call it a happy accident” – was brilliant.
  • Larry’s comment about him and Cheryl having sex one last time was a great moment where Larry, at least for a second, seemed to care about getting something out of the divorce. 
  • Funkhouser calling himself “The Funk” had me laughing so hard that I had to rewatch the scene a few times. I know JB Smoove is the easy choice for favorite supporting character, but as I re-watched previous seasons in anticipation of last night’s premier, I realized that Marty Funkhouser is hands down my favorite character on the show.  I love every stilted line of delivery by Bob Einstein
  • There’s something about the image of Leon and Jeff playing pool that makes me smile. I think a lot of it had to do with the smash cut into Larry’s house and seeing those two side-by-side playing pool. I would love to see an episode where Leon and Jeff have a misadventure. 
  • The subsequent moment where Leon makes sense of Marty’s divorce is, again, another reason why you can see that Larry likes Leon so much – they both have no filter. Anyway, the line, “Run that ass into the ground,” is just brilliantly delivered by Smoove.  
  • Leon’s suggestion about a “Just Divorced” sign, with cans and everything, on Funkhouser’s car to celebrate his divorce was great.
  • As was Jeff’s sad panda reaction to everyone’s happy divorce news. 
  • Leon explaining how difficult it is to have sex with two women on a twin bed.

I’ll be interested to see what they do with Cheryl. I really like the idea of the show exploring the Cheryl/Larry dichotomy while the two are now officially divorced (kind of like when their friends took sides when Cheryl left Larry), but I don’t want to see her abandoned now that the divorce is official. She’s too charming to be left behind  – her character keeps the show grounded in a kind of reality, and it’s her interaction with David and his friends (and vice versa…remember Krazy Eyes Killa!) that is one of the best things about Curb. As much as I love Larry and his cavalcade of narcissistic dummies, Cheryl (and Susie, for that matter) adds a different comedic layer to the show.

That’s all I have for now. I’ll try to keep this up throughout the season. Anyone else watch?