TV Discussion: Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 8: Ep 1 “The Divorce” and Ep 2 “The Safe House”




Larry David is back, and this year he’s bound for New York.  You wouldn’t know it by watching the first two episodes of the 8th season.  The first episode, The Divorce, concerns two different divorces: the finalization of Larry’s divorce from Cheryl, and the beginning of Marty Funkhouser’s divorce from his wife, which, is of course due to a Larry idea.  Of course Leon is still hanging around, doing nothing at all, as per usual.

Larry’s confrontation with the Girl Scouts cookie sales continues as he at first promises to buy a ton of cookies to get in the good graces of the owner of the Dodgers (played by the always-funny Gary Cole), and later rescinds his order as a revenge tactic when he gets caught in an awkward position by teaching the owner’s daughter how to put a tampon in during her first period.

He also becomes suspicious that his lawyer, Alan Berg (played by the equally hilarious Paul F. Tompkins), is not really Jewish, and that he’s playing to the stereotypes to get better clientele.  Upon meeting an actual Jewish lawyer, Larry quickly switches over to him, feeling he’ll get a better deal in his divorce with Cheryl.  He finds out that the Dodgers’ owner has the same non-Jewish lawyer, and recommends him over.  Of course, things end in disaster on every front, with angry Girl Scouts attacking him, getting worked over in his divorce, and possibly losing the good graces of the Dodgers’ owner, whom he wants to accompany in the Dodgers’ owner box.

A great episode and introduction to season 8, it has all the tell-tale marks of classic Larry.  His seemingly never-ending feud with the Girl Scouts continues, but his divorce from Cheryl is almost final, marking a new chapter in his life.  The “is he a Jew or isn’t he?” story with Paul F. Tompkins was hilarious, and again, classic Larry.  He always ends up getting screwed because of the stupid or abrasive things he says and does.

Episode two, The Safe House concerns Larry’s new neighbors, a safe house for battered women.  At first, he is his usual self, trying ever so hard to reach the ice cream behind a crying woman being comforted by another woman, and not giving up when they won’t just move over for him.  A normal person would come back later, and in a normal world, the women would have just moved, but not in Curb.

He later has a confrontation with a woman who lets her dog use the bathroom on Larry’s lawn and won’t clean it up.  When she doesn’t bend to his will, or even do the polite thing and apologize, Larry is incredulous.  Later, he is approached by the woman who was doing the comforting in the store, who tells him about the safe house, and invites him over to be a positive male figure in the women’s lives.  Oh, and to apologize, which Larry has no plans on doing until he is told he will be a representative for males everywhere, then he quickly jumps at the opportunity.

Meanwhile, his good friend Richard Lewis is dating a burlesque dancer, and when Marty Funkhouser tells Larry that he’s seen her show, he wants to go, and so does Jeff.  After all, Richard didn’t ask them not to go, right?  So the whole clan sneaks off to see the show.  When they surmise that Richard isn’t there, they enjoy themselves and have a good time admiring Richard’s girlfriend’s breasts.

Of course, since it’s Larry, as they’re leaving the burlesque show, they are spotted leaving by Richard, who is furious they went to see the show without his permission.  All after they surmised he wouldn’t care, as Jeff said “Everyone sees them all day anyway”.  Meanwhile, Leon tells Larry some unsettling thing about how much he actually knows about Larry David, including his pin number, his alarm code, the last 4 numbers of his social security number, and his mother’s maiden name.   All the things you would need to become Larry David on paper.

Larry has a chance encounter with a man in a diner, who asks Larry to watch his computer for a second.  When the man doesn’t quickly return, Larry is forced to leave the computer watching duties to another man in the diner, who just happened to be black.  When the man who left him with the computer finds Larry and confronts him about his missing computer, he tells him he left it with a black gentleman.  When the computer owner starts to freak out, Larry makes coy fun of his possible racism, quickly making the man lose his passion and shut up to avoid saying something that’s possibly racist.

When he tells Leon of the incident, Leon is upset to hear a black man is making him look bad.  During a very Larryish encounter with one of the women from the safe house, Larry injures his own eye falling away in fear, but the doctor isn’t buying it.  When pushy Leon comes to Larry in the doctor’s office, Larry tells the doctor of Leon’s behavior, how he won’t leave and is constantly asking for things.  This leads the doctor to make some rash decisions of his own:  He thinks Larry and Leon are a couple and that Leon becomes abusive toward Larry when he doesn’t get what he wants.

When the guy he left the computer with at the diner shows up to help Larry track down the owner, he is mistaken by the cops as Leon, and hauled off to jail for domestic violence.  There is a certain magic to the way that Larry can find the worst in everybody, and make the most happenstance situations much, much worse when he finally realizes it was all a coincidence.

The first two episodes are a strong return for the show,and Larry David himself.  Many speculated that season 7 would be the last, and now that season 8 is on, people are wondering the same thing again.  I just hope Larry has the drive to keep making the show, he’s notorious for being fearful of jumping the shark, but as these two episodes have proven, there is plenty of Larry’s observations and strange coincidences to keep going beyond this season.

The other big thing is that at some point in the season, Larry will head back to New York, his native soil, after spending many years in Los Angeles.  New York is more suited to his brand of downtrodden obsessions, so I’ll be curious to see what brings him there, and how he reacts to the town he’s so long been away from.

Worry not, Curb fans, we’re gearing up for another classic season full of mistaken identity, happenstance follies, and genuinely bad behavior from Larry and friends.  What would you like to see this year on Curb Your Enthusiasm?  Will going back to New York kill Larry?   I can’t wait to find out!

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