For the last several seasons, I have really felt like HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm has been headed downhill, losing track of what made it good in the first place… Larry David’s lack of self-awareness getting him into trouble. Instead, the emphasis and focus has been more oriented towards shock value, and an increasingly meaner Larry, who become more and more unlikeable. But in the third episode of this season, “Palestinian Chicken”, the show seemed to get back to its roots.
I for one, don’t know if the ‘unlikeable Larry’ was the result of LD’s bitterness towards his real life divorce, or just what happens as shows get older. The Office was doing the same thing to Michael Scott in Season 6 with the “Scott’s Totts” episode, and don’t get me started on the ‘hit or miss’ of South Park in recent years. What I do know is that I’ve found less and less episodes of Curb smart and funny in the last few years.
Then comes “Palestinian Chicken”, an episode that not only feels like the old Curb but also makes a political statement about the 2010 mosque/NYC controversy. The plot finds Jeff and Larry stumbling onto an anti-Semitic chicken restaurant, and they are more then willing to check their Jewish heritage at the door in order to enjoy epic chicken. Meanwhile, Larry’s friends plan to protest the chain opening a new location next door to a Jewish deli, putting LD literally in the middle of his people and his chicken.
Without giving the entire episode away, side plots include Larry being asked to become a ‘social assassin’ when a friend’s wife is guilty of annoying ‘verbal texting LOL’ instead of just laughing. The story also features a golf tournament, cheating married friends, blackmail by a teenager, and newly devout Funkhauser overhearing Larry having sex with a Palestinian. The plot seems to be derived in part from the classic Kenny Rogers Roasters episode of Seinfeld, in which Kramer has to choose between his hatred of a bright red light that is making him crazy, and his love of chicken, but taken to a whole new level as only Larry David can do.
These days, it’s hard to know which Curb will show up from week to week, but if the remainder of the season focuses on this style of irony and awkwardness, then I can’t wait to see what happens when LD takes Manhattan. Curb airs Sundays on HBO.