Larry David has said over and over that the twelfth season of Curb Your Enthusiasm will be the last one, and he claims he means it this time. It makes sense, given the fact that he’s now 76, and he’s been doing this show for 24 years. But whether the show is really going to be history after this season or not doesn’t mean that David is going to do anything different than he’s done for the show’s first eleven seasons.
Opening Shot: We see some of the aftermath of the first season of Young Larry.
The Gist: Larry is still stuck still dating Irma Kostroski (Tracey Ullman), because her AA sponsor told him to wait six months before breaking up, given she just got sober. As she sings the jingle to the J.G. Wentworth ads around the house, Larry glumly marks off a calendar until the day he can cut her loose.
He then gets in his car and has a fight with the Siri on his phone because it keeps giving him the wrong info; he even calls it the c-word. At lunch with Jeff and Susie Greene (Jeff Garlin, Susie Essman), they fret over the fact that their food is being held up by a waiter getting condolences because his mother just died. Larry also talks about the appearance he’s going to make at an Atlanta house party being thrown by a wealthy African businessman named Michael Fouchay (Sharlto Copley), who’s a big Young Larry fan; yes, that means Maria Elena is coming, too. All Larry has to do is talk to people and be cordial, which seems like a small ask, but not for Larry.
On the trip, Maria Elena brings along a chubby Yorkie named Patchuka as her emotional support dog; Larry and Leon (JB Smoove), who’s coming along to visit his Auntie Rae (Ellia English) fat-shame the dog to his face, with the rationale that the dog has no idea what they’re saying.
At the hotel in Atlanta, Larry runs afoul of a housekeeper named Ligaya (Ann Hurd) because the bedroom of his suite is so messy. When the trio go to visit Auntie Rae, Maria Elena boldly grabs Larry’s glasses off his face and has Rae try them on. When he gets them back, Larry thinks that Rae has stretched them out with her head, which Larry equates to a jack-o-lantern. Rae gives Larry a pair of cat eye glasses to wear, which of course is the direct opposite of his usual look.
A few more discomforts and arguments ensue, especially at Fouchay’s party; Larry is shocked to learn that Fouchay is white (he’s from South Africa), and he gets into an argument with a guest name Brooke (Kalilah Harris), who only lets close friends call her “Brookie”… except for the guy she met once at a conference a month ago, who just happens to be at the party. He also accidentally ticks off Ligaya when the tip money he was going to leave for her gets blown into the toilet without him knowing.
Larry finds out from Jeff that Fouchay won’t pay him; after Larry confronts him at his office, Fouchay says he wasn’t “cordial” enough. Through some South African understanding exercise, Larry gets the pay back but a furry butt dial takes care of that. On his way out of town, he stops at voting location to give Rae her glasses back, and gets in trouble.
What Shows Will It Remind You Of? Curb Your Enthusiasm Seasons 1-11.
Our Take: Just because David claims that this is the last season of Curb (for real this time, he keeps saying!), doesn’t mean that this season is going to be some grandiose tribute season. There is going to be an arc that will be revisited throughout the season — namely, Larry’s legal trouble.
In the second episode, Jeff rents an Airbnb house in Atlanta that has a racist lawn jockey in front. When Larry, Jeff and Leon try to move it, it breaks, and Susie demands they get another one. The season’s arc is established in a very Curb-like way, including a lawyer (Saverio Guerra) who looks too much like the hated Mocha Joe.
The first three episodes of the season are all standard latter-day Curb, which means that Larry gets bent out of shape over tiny things and social niceties, Susie curses up a storm, Jeff is a weasel of a husband, Cheryl (Cheryl Hines) gets to criticize Larry with the freedom of being his ex-wife who now dates Ted Danson affords. And there will still be guest stars, like Sienna Miller and Troy Kotsur showing up in the third episode as themselves (as well as some big ones we can’t talk about).
There are times when the episodes feel more like vignettes than fully plotted half hours, but like last season, we hope the season’s arc can bring at least some of the episodes into focus.
Sex and Skin: None, thankfully, though Leon does talk about how he used to “dick dial” people when he kept his phone in his front pocket.
Parting Shot: Pretty much the entire ending of the episode is considered a spoiler, so you’ll just have to see for yourself.
Sleeper Star: We’ll always say JB Smoove here, but Keyla Monterroso Mejia is just as funny as Maria Elena in this first episode.
Most Pilot-y Line: Larry accidentally drops his glasses into the toilet before the tip money goes in, and he tries to persuade Ligaya to fish it out, which ticks her off even more. That mini-storyline plays out in a bit of disjointed fashion, mainly because we never see how Larry ends up getting his glasses out of the toilet, or how he even manages to put them on his face, given where they’ve been.
Our Call: STREAM IT. The final season of Curb Your Enthusiasm is pretty much more of what we’ve seen over the past 24 years. But it’s still funny, howlingly so at times. And that’s pretty much all we’re looking for from Curb as Larry and company kvetch into the sunset.
Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and tech, but he doesn’t kid himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon, RollingStone.com, VanityFair.com, Fast Company and elsewhere.