Over the last few seasons, Curb Your Enthusiasm has been about crafting entire seasons that build around a central idea, whether it’s about reuniting the cast of Seinfeld, or attempting to make a coffee shop simply out of spite. The way these seasons have built to a wonderful crescendo where everything ties together like an intricate, neurotic clock, is truly impressive, and has made Curb Your Enthusiasm one of the best comedies on television for several decades.
Season 11 is continuing this idea of a story told throughout the season, as Larry David tries to get the series Young Larry made. While the first three episodes of this season have primarily focused on the creation of this series, the fourth episode, “The Watermelon,” barely touches on this season’s story. Instead, the episode focuses more on the preposterous situations Larry got himself into in the early days, which don’t feel tied to a larger story. The result is one of the funnier episodes of the season so far, and a nice break from the bigger narrative at hand this season.
“The Watermelon” only slightly touches on the season’s story, as Larry and Jeff (Jeff Garlin) decide they’d like to try and get Woody Harrelson on Young Larry. In the world of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Harrelson is an Oscar winner who used his time at the Academy Awards to talk advocate for interspecies equality, and shame people for the cycle of violence that creates the cream people use in their coffee. By the end of Larry’s meeting with Woody, Larry has lied about having a farm, and a cow named Jessie, with plans to take Woody to meet Jessie.
In addition to having to find a cow this episode, Larry loses a bet and has to go to temple, goes to the ophthalmologist (played by Kaley Cuoco), and destroys her relationship with Freddy Funkhouser (Vince Vaughn) over her inability to pick up a piece of Pirate’s Booty snack food she carelessly drops on the floor, and helps Leon (J.B. Smoove) get over his shame of eating watermelon.
But these are all secondary to Larry’s conflict with Klansman Joe (Marc Menchaca), when Larry accidentally spills coffee over the klansman’s robes, offers to dry clean the robes, which sets Larry on a series of favors that leads him to explain why he must help this klansman look his best for his hate crimes. While everyone else understandably can’t believe Larry would help a klansman, Larry sees Joe as little more than a man he’s wronged. Like last season’s MAGA hat and Larry’s inability to trust a man named Don Jr., Larry David has found a way to point out the absurdities of politics and extremism, without ever feeling preachy, or like the episode is trying to make a direct statement about modern issues.
Unlike an episode like “Angel Muffin,” which is brilliant in the way it ties together its various storylines, “The Watermelon” is great for the situations and arguments Larry finds himself caught in. To be fair, most of these stories are somewhat underwhelming, but each story here leads to at least one hilarious moment. For example, the absolute rage with which Larry replies to Jeff after being told the name Jessie for a cow is stupid is maybe the funniest thing to come out of an episode this season. Seeing Larry squirm as he tries to lie his way into favor with Woody is great, sure, but that moment between Larry and Jeff alone makes the entire story worthwhile.
Similarly, Larry’s speech to make Leon feel comfortable with buying a watermelon at the grocery store is over-the-top in a way that is both funny, and about as close to touching as Curb Your Enthusiasm can get. Larry’s initial conversation with the klansman is so amusing because of how inane and straightforward it is, and Larry’s inability to make any decision whatsoever at the ophthalmologist provides a fun back-and-forth between David and Cuoco. Even the Pirate’s Booty story seems like little more than an excuse to just have Vaughn, Cuoco and David say Pirate’s Booty as many times as possible, but it’s so ridiculous, it can’t help but be comical.
Which is sort of the beauty of Curb Your Enthusiasm in a way. Sure, the show can tell a larger story with intricate connecting stories spread over the course of a season, or it can go over-the-top and ridiculous, with klan rallies, watermelon interventions, and Larry David saying “Pirate’s Booty” over and over again, and be equally as fantastic. “The Watermelon” proves that sometimes, Curb Your Enthusiasm simply being silly and ludicrous can be just as effective as the most labyrinthian and well thought out storylines.
With season 11 around the corner, let’s jog our memories.
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