As mentioned in my first impressions (see here), Curb Your Enthusiasm is back to being the same old Curb. But that’s not a bad thing. Larry’s faux pas are forever watchable. It has just the right level of cringe because you don’t feel bad for him. He puts himself in these situations and deserves all the repercussions they entail.
The main arc of Season 9 starts after Larry writes a musical based on Salman Rushdie‘s life, titled “Fatwa!” After making an unflattering impression of the Ayatollah on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Larry David is issued a fatwa calling for his assassination (like what happened to Rushdie).
Larry’s love life is reignited when he meets Bridget (Lauren Graham, Gilmore Girls) whose son is “on the spectrum”, but Larry thinks he’s just a brat, again navigating, nay, stumbling through, that grey area of offensiveness. Jeff’s (Jeff Garlin) infidelity is gross and out of left field but it feels like it’s supposed to be.
Since divorcing Larry, Cheryl (Cheryl Hines) starts up a relationship with Ted Danson and prime for comedy fodder but is mostly left to the side. Sadly, Hines doesn’t get much to do this season. J. B. Smoove finally gets his dues being promoted to the main cast, first appearing in season six as Leon Black. Leon, perhaps to a fault, encourages Larry to proceed with his unique ideas despite Larry’s hesitation. It’s always a good time when he’s on screen.
For me some highlights of this season include a devout Muslim investigating Larry’s past misdeeds/heroics (after Larry saves him waiting in line), catching up with some familiar past guests including Michael J. Fox. Then (slight spoiler) Lin-Manuel Miranda and the production of “Fatwa!” Oh, and of course more inspired guest appearances from Elizabeth Banks and Bryan Cranston.
The end-of-episode payoffs did improve as the season progressed, stacking the fatwa atop Larry’s new misadventures. I know what I said earlier, but this season really did grow on me, and those guest stars were just the icing on the cake.
Curb Your Enthusiasm: Season Nine
HBO (US), SoHo (NZ)
1 October 2017