“Curb Your Enthusiasm” and the New Normal

During this year – as the vaccine has become readily available in the United States to those who want it and the daily cases and deaths resulting from COVID-19 have sharply declined – the national conversation has largely centered on this. what the new normal might look like. As. Some want to immediately return to life as it was before the pandemic, while others believe the virus should be continued to be considered until a larger percentage of the population is vaccinated. In light of this controversial issue, many shows have incorporated their visions of post-epidemic life.

That said, the portrayal of the new normal presented by “Curb Your Enthusiasm” sounds very familiar. The Season 11 premiere of Larry David’s classic series features the same well-crafted comedic story structure fans of the series know and love, as multiple threads come together at the end of the 40-minute run.

Larry (Larry David, “Saturday Night Live”) wakes up in the middle of the night to find a dead man in his swimming pool. The next day, he and his manager Jeff (Jeff Garlin, “The Goldbergs”) successfully present a television show loosely based on Larry’s young adulthood, aptly titled “Young Larry” on Netflix. However, the dead man’s brother Marcos (Marques Ray, “Brews Brothers”) extorts Larry, threatening to continue a legal battle unless Larry hires his talentless daughter Maria Sofia (Keyla Monterroso Mejia, “On My Block”) on “Young Larry”. Other intertwined storylines include a lively Albert Brooks (“The Simpsons”) who sets up his own funeral and a financial feud between Larry and Dennis (John Pirruccello, “Godzilla vs. Kong”), a rude man with a start. onset of dementia.

This episode of “Curb” is successful on several fronts. The impressive selection of guest stars, including Brooks, Pirruccello, Jon Hamm (“Mad Men”) and Lucy Liu (“Elementary”) all shine, demonstrating the actors’ eagerness to perform alongside the legendary Larry David. The “Young Larry” season arc is promising, and is reminiscent of the season four arc of “Seinfeld” in a show, which David designed with Jerry Seinfeld almost 30 years ago. However, the blackmail situation is hard to believe; why would anyone succumb to such an absurd extortion?

Nonetheless, with a clear seasonal arc in place, along with all the other elements of a typical “Curb” episode, there is one factor that is sorely lacking: references to COVID-19. There is no presentation or even discussion of life during the pandemic and very little to indicate a distinctly post-pandemic state; there are no masks in sight, and no social distancing. Larry David has made a concerted effort to completely ignore the subject of COVID-19.

We don’t see any gag that Larry is enjoying his time away from society during the lockdown, but we do see him struggle to win back his girlfriend (Liu) after banging his head in a glass door, causing her to lose. her attraction to him. There is no conflict between Jeff and his angry wife Susie (Susie Essman, “Bless This Mess”) after being stuck alone together for months, but he secretly confides in Larry that he was right in an argument with Susie.

The only COVID-19 related joke in the entire episode is when Larry finds out that Albert Brooks is a “COVID hoarder,” quickly forcing each guest to curse Brooks and storm out. What point is David trying to make about the people here? What does it say about them if they would be happy to please a man who is so selfish that he wants to hear people congratulate him at his own funeral, but instantly hates him upon learning that he bought too many sanitary products during the pandemic?

David’s intention was probably not to make a big revelation about the behavior or attitudes of Americans. It was never his style. However, we can safely assume that he rejects the idea that COVID-19 must always be the center of the discussion, the ultimate problem. He used a similar comedic strategy to approach the controversial Donald Trump in the 2020 Season 10 premiere. None of the jokes in the episode dealt with politics, but instead mocked the MAGA hat as a social deterrent.

Just as Trump has done throughout his presidency, the pandemic has dominated the headlines and the media for over a year and a half. No matter where you stand on one of the many debates surrounding COVID-19, you are sure to be triggered after a two-minute scroll on Twitter. We could all enjoy a break. David is happy to make us happy.

Daily Arts writer Aidan Harris can be reached at [email protected]

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November 4, 2021