Larry David’s HBO sitcom Curb Your Enthusiasm, in which the Seinfeld co-creator plays a fictionalized version of himself, is one of the funniest shows on the air right now. It has a stellar cast who all improvise their own dialogue from a meticulously constructed story outline, leading to some unexpected comedic gems arising from each scene.
The storylines of each episode often overlap with each other in masterful ways. However, as with any show, Curb has had episodes that were stronger than others and episodes that were weaker than others. So, here are The 5 Best (And 5 Worst) Episodes Of Curb Your Enthusiasm.
10 Worst: The Rat Dog
In this episode, Larry takes Jeff’s exterminator to see a school play. Not very believable, is it? Well, the problem there is that it makes the ending predictable. We’re expected to suspend our disbelief enough to believe that an exterminator would be eager to go to a school play involving none of his kids with his client’s friend who he just met right after Larry told one of the parents at the school that her dog looks like a rat.
Obviously, the exterminator is going to kill the dog. It’s still funny when it happens, because he aggressively stamps on it in front of everybody, but Curb works best when you can’t see the final plot convergences coming.
9 Best: The Car Pool Lane
Season 4’s “The Car Pool Lane” is solid gold from start to finish. For starters, anything involving Larry’s dad, played by comedy legend Shelley Berman, is going to be hilarious – especially when it involves him getting high with a hooker. Larry buys some weed (from a drug dealer played by Lost’s Jorge Garcia) to help with his dad’s glaucoma, then he ends up hiring a prostitute to take the carpool lane to a baseball game.
In the end, he smokes the weed with his dad and the hooker, making for a hysterical caper. What makes it so absurd – and funny – is the fact that it puts Larry in situations we’ve never seen him before (and never expected to see him in).
8 Worst: The Bisexual
The whole premise of this episode is, as Jeff Greene would say, “a big bowl of wrong.” It sees Larry and his lesbian friend Rosie O’Donnell falling for the same woman, a bisexual woman, and then competing for her affections. The premise itself wouldn’t be too bad if it wasn’t contingent on Larry’s misinformed idea that people who identify as bisexual are “greedy” and should just “pick one.”
The back-and-forth with Larry’s old friend about whether or not they should have lunch together is quite funny, but it’s the only story thread in the whole episode with that signature Curb wit and it isn’t enough to carry the entire half-hour on its own.
7 Best: The Corpse Sniffing Dog
The storytelling in “The Corpse Sniffing Dog” is both simple and masterfully crafted. It’s a story about Larry trying to do the right thing and failing at every turn. Jeff can’t live at home because he’s allergic to the dog, so Larry talks Jeff’s daughter into letting go of the dog to allow Jeff to move back in. But at the time, he doesn’t realize she’s accidentally gotten drunk on wine.
So, he takes the dog and gives him to another family he’s offended and uses the dog to make up with them. Then Susie angrily demands that Larry get the dog back, because Sammi didn’t really want to give him away. So, he has to take the dog back, re-offending the family he’d made up with. And by then, Jeff is moving his stuff back in and Larry has to tell him to go back to a hotel. It’s just a spectacular narrative structure and a very, very funny episode.
6 Worst: Car Periscope
Season 8’s “Car Periscope” gets some laughs out of the titular invention and Larry and Jeff’s obsession with it, but it offers little else. There’s a personal trainer avoiding Larry, a bigoted old man who only shows his true colors to Larry and hides them from his son, and a riff on The Fugitive with an evil and elusive “one-armed man.”
All of these plots are either too insubstantial or too unrealistic to maintain the audience’s interest. The episode does get points, however, for continuing to inventively use the eighth season’s New York setting, this time taking Larry and Jeff to the famous Golf Club at Chelsea Piers.
5 Best: Krazee Eyez Killa
Chris Williams’ rapper character Krazee Eyez Killa set the template for Leon Black. Seeing Larry David, an elderly white Jew, alongside Krazee Eyez, a young black rapper, presented ample opportunities for comedy gold. Krazee Eyez is Wanda Sykes’ unfaithful fiancé and Larry is the man who knew too much in a brilliantly constructed farce.
What’s even greater is that the lyrics Krazee Eyez asks Larry for notes on weren’t even in the script – Williams wrote them himself as he prepared for the role. The episode’s hilarious use of race relations is summed up perfectly when Larry asks Krazee Eyez, “Are you my Caucasian?”
4 Worst: A Disturbance in the Kitchen
Curb’s recent ninth season was far more hit than miss, but “A Disturbance in the Kitchen” was one of the season’s misses. It’s named after an incident that a waiter described vaguely. The waiter popped up a few times throughout the episode and described more things vaguely, but it didn’t go anywhere as a story.
The character didn’t evolve over the course of the episode. The only payoff was that in the end, Larry caused a disturbance in the kitchen, but that’s not a real narrative conclusion. Also, while Elizabeth Banks is very funny, her sensibility and personality weren’t a good fit for Curb.
3 Best: Palestinian Chicken
This was the episode that silenced all the critics who feared Curb had lost its edge in the eighth season. “Palestinian Chicken” is a hilarious study of religious conflict that sees Larry’s golf tournament team slowly fall apart in the lead up to the big game. But the focus is on the eponymous chicken.
Larry and Jeff are Jewish, yet they go to a Palestinian restaurant and eat Palestinian food because it’s just that good. Larry even becomes a local hero there after taking a swing at Funkhouser’s yarmulke in the parking lot. This episode has a ton of great comedic ideas, like verbal texting, and ties them all together in a tight, interconnected plot.
2 Worst: The Smoking Jacket
This whole episode revolved around Larry taking a teenage boy to see some breasts and his belief that once someone has taken something into the bathroom (whether it be a magazine or a jacket), it’s been tainted. It’s a thin and flimsy premise that doesn’t go very far and becomes stale quickly.
Larry David visiting the Playboy Mansion had so much comic potential and it was tragically squandered by one of the show’s weaker episodes. There are, of course, a few inspired moments and some spontaneous laughs that come out of the improvised dialogue, but on the whole, it’s less than great.
1 Best: The Doll
The season 2 episode “The Doll” is a perfect example of Curb firing on all cylinders. Every story thread is as awkwardly hilarious as the show at its best and they all converge at the end in a satisfying way. Larry and Jeff go back and forth between Susie and the president of ABC’s wife with a doll, trying to make them both happy.
The episode has some classic Susie-yelling-at-Larry moments, as well as one of the series’ finest “music up” endings when Larry is mistaken for a pedophile and makes a beeline for the bathroom window. At its best, Curb episodes are devilishly complex, yet easy-to-follow farces, and “The Doll” is the pinnacle of that.