'Curb Your Enthusiasm' review: Did Larry David, 'social assassin,' solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict?

Last night’s episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm found Larry David in moods that are least like him (at least on TV): cheerful and open-minded. Enthused about the chicken served at the Palestinian-owned Al Abbas Chicken restaurant, Larry is busy converting his mostly-Jewish chums to the establishment. One joke among these jokesters is that the restaurant would be an ideal place to conduct an affair, since so few Jews patronize the place.

Larry was also enthused about one of the owners of the chicken joint, Shara, with whom he engaged in vigorous sex as she chanted anti-Israeli slogans to maintain her lust. (Let me pause here and say that, on Sunday nights, it’s never a good idea for a TV protagonist to get involved with people who run chicken restaurants. Doesn’t Larry David watch Breaking Bad?)

One self-consciously warped definition of a secular Jew, Larry sees the world only through his own wants and needs. He likes chicken at a place run by vigorously opinionated Palestinians? No matter, live and let live: He chows down. His friend Marty Funkhouser (the fine deadpan slab Bob Einstein) has become an observant Jew? Fine by Larry (well sort of: “Are you for real?” he asks Marty), just don’t wear that yarmulke to Al Abbas, lest it provoke a response that might interfere with Larry’s digestion. Even Funkhauser rationalized his presence in the restaurant by noting tartly, “if Rabin can break bread with Arafat, I can have chicken at this anti-Semitic s—hole.”

When it was discovered that Al Abbas planned to open another store next to Greenblatt’s Deli, controversy raged in the manner of the “Ground Zero Mosque” debate in New York, thus allowing David to satirize two hot-button topics. Like his collaborator Jerry Seinfeld, David sees the world through a prism of potential-joking. Neither of them is overtly political, nor do they seek to break taboos in a latterday Lenny Bruce sense. On Curb, jokes about religion and ethnicity are cast in terms of specific people in particular situations whose outrage, whether genuine or feigned, can be satirized merrily.

The prominent subplot this week involved Larry’s now-defined status as a “social assassin” — the man who will say anything, no matter who he offends. His friends have finally tumbled to the idea that this characteristic which gets Larry into virtually every crazy-misunderstanding comic plot twist on Curb can be used to their advantage. Thus he is enlisted by pal Ron to tell his wife, Eileen, to stop using the irritating phrase “LOL” instead of actually laughing out loud. (The barely-inside joke here was that Eileen was played by Maggie Wheeler who was Janis, possessor of the braying laugh on Friends.)

But the elements of Jewish identity, and the way they dovetail and conflict with an individual’s desires and needs, put Larry David in Philip Roth territory this week. Larry explained that Shara was a “turn-on” because “you’re always attracted to someone who doesn’t want you. Here you have someone who not only doesn’t want you, but doesn’t even acknowledge your right to exist, who wants your destruction.” You’ve heard the phrase “all politics are local”? For Larry, all politics are carnal.

In the end, in a scene all the funnier for looking so cheap and artificial, Larry must decide which of the two groups of protestors he’ll join: The Jews, symbolized most loudly by Susie (her brash vulgarity found its match in Shara — this is Larry David’s idea of parity), or the Palestinians. Given Susie’s shrieking versus the lush sensuality of Shara, the episode’s black-out ending left little doubt in my mind as to which side Larry would opt to join.

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  • Sina

    Where was Leon? This episode was actually about eating chicken and there was no joke about Leon or other Black ppl eating chicken. I’m shocked and saddened. Where were the offensive Black jokes regarding Black ppl and chicken? I really missed Leon. It was funny though. Not as funny as Funkhouser’s 25 anniversary episode. One of the best.

    • Tampa X Factor

      Leon was across the street eating chicken and waffles. With a side of watermelon.

      • Beloved

        Naturally, as that is what all Black people do!

    • Alan

      Leon is like Hot Sauce. Good in SMALL doses. We don’t need him every week, for god’s sake. He hogs the spotlight with his nonsensical rantings, and it just takes attention away from Larry and his shenanigans.

      • Lenap1

        Leon would eff ALL of you up. Better start running, suckas

  • Member of the tribe

    Great episode. I think Larry will just keep on walking. Also, surpisingly Larry had the right perspective. It was just chicken :).

  • jay

    This was the funniest ever! I nearly fell out of bed!

    • ryan

      Jay, sweetie, you did fall out of bed. Now come on back and give me some lovin.

  • GunnerGA

    Truly one of the funniest episodes. The sex scene with the anti-semitic remarks and Larry’s responses to keep the mood alive was outstanding. And then when the Palestinians cheered Larry for knocking off Funkhauser’s Yarmulke before permitting him to enter the Palestinian chicken restaurant… that was a moment. I do think they watered down Susie’s daughter’s insults to Larry (after he called her “your mother’s daughter” following her blackmail threat) as it was less Susie-esque than it could have been. Still a truly enjoyable episode. Such nachus.

  • Trish

    What a hilarious episode! Curb is getting back to its funniest early years. Enough of season long story lines and getting back to just pure Larry David side splitting humor! The Palestinian actress was terrific!

  • Bill

    Probably my favorite episode since Krazy eyes killa. “Now,get the F*** out of my driveway”

    • MN

      Yo! Delicious!

    • Tiffany

      No nothing is better than that Krazy Eyes Killa episode. Except maybe Funkhouser’s anniversary episode. “Larry went home to take a sh*t”

  • Emma

    This was hardly a review of the episode! More like a recap.

  • Mary

    I love Larry’s outrageous antics, but what I also love about Curb are the small comedy moments in each episode. For instance, I cracked up laughing when Susie pointed out “celery” to Jeff.

  • momma bear

    “What is this, the raid on Entebbe?” Last night was hilarious…..

  • Ken Tucker is a Clown

    Eileen , maagie wheeler, was ALSO on an episode of SEINFELD. Her and George Had Sex. Also, Susie’s drinking “problem” was also on SEINFELD when Elaine dated Joel Rifkin and she commented that she dated a guy who Always did the drinkin THng. Ang larry was Kramer this week, when Jerry and Elaine USED Kramer’s HOnesty ability to tell Elain’s friend about her Old fashiined Hair.
    If Ken Tucker was “TV” guy he would know this Information.

    • Jackie D

      Dude, you really need to get a friggin’ life. And fast.

      • Dorimifah Solatido

        You were the kid in class that ate the Elmer’s glue, weren’t you?

  • Jason


  • Ken

    I loved Larry Miller in this episode as well. he had some great lines like when he said he couldn’t protest the Palestinian chicken place because he had to protest the German place on the other side of Goldblatt’s

    • pastafarian

      “Your lunch is on me.”
      “But I already paid.”
      “Even better.”

    • Yumi

      I hope that T-mobile doe’s not get bought out by at t. I feel that we slhuod have more choices than just 4 service providers. The more people that can have nation wide services means more choices and lower prices so more people can pay there bill and I feel that if you like a carrier you will stay with them not because there the cheapest, because you like the services they provide you. I would rather have 500 providers with nation wide service at 10 30 dollars unlimited min text web + choices

  • bingolong

    This is one of my top 5 episodes right now of Curb …

  • Julie Anderton

    I always enjoy Curb, and Sunday’s episode was no exception, but I was surprised at how many elements from ‘Palestinian Chicken’ were seen previously on ‘Seinfeld.’

    People using Larry as a ‘social assassin’ was similar to Jerry and Elaine wanting to use Kramer in ‘The Kiss Hello'; Elaine complained about someone making an “ahh” sound after drinking in ‘The Masseuse'; and the idea of saying “LOL” instead of laughing was similar to Jerry’s girlfriend in ‘The Switch’ who would say “That’s funny” rather than laugh at his jokes.

    It’s fun to see Larry exploring these gags further, but I hope he’s not running out of ideas.

  • Charlie Bear

    Lab son of Nat? What’s that about?

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