The first episode of a season of television is arguably the most important one, barring maybe the final episode, because it’s the one that reintroduces audiences to characters and environments that they haven’t seen for a year. Any random episode throughout the season has the crutch of being just one week away from a trip back into the world of the show.
Larry David has understood the importance of making a strong season premiere episode since his days on Seinfeld, and that has continued to his own HBO sitcom, Curb Your Enthusiasm. So, here is Every Curb Your Enthusiasm Season Premiere, Ranked.
9 Season 9: Foisted!
After eight solid seasons and a six-year hiatus, the expectations for Curb’s season 9 premiere were pretty high, and unfortunately, “Foisted!” fell short of the premieres that came before it. It wasn’t a terrible episode, since it certainly had its moments – Larry and Leon’s discussion of “lamping” was hilarious, while the season arc setup involving Larry’s fatwa is brilliant – but it had more lows than highs.
Storylines like Richard Lewis being upset that Larry didn’t properly mourn his parakeet or Larry trying to determine which person in a lesbian couple is more “bridey” just aren’t relatable, and therefore don’t land.
8 Season 8: The Divorce
As Larry and Cheryl’s divorce is finalized in season 8’s “The Divorce,” Larry panics when he finds out his lawyer isn’t Jewish and goes back on an agreement with the Girl Scouts over a cookie purchase. Gary Cole gives a strong guest performance as the owner of the Dodgers in “The Divorce,” while Jeff and Susie have some hysterical moments, but this isn’t a great episode.
While season 8 would end up being a terrific season, the premiere had the burden of wrapping up the previous season’s storyline of Larry and Cheryl’s breakup before delving into Larry’s New York adventures.
7 Season 1: The Pants Tent
The very first episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm following the hour-long special that convinced HBO execs it should be a series sees Larry’s “pants tent” (a build-up of material in the crotch of his pants) get him into trouble with his wife’s friend and Richard Lewis’ new girlfriend, leading to some scenes that still rank among the show’s most memorable to this day.
All the stuff with Kathy Griffin doesn’t really make sense, which gives the episode a weak and awkward ending, but other than that, considering this was the first episode of the show – a show that experiments with the bold format of improvising every scene while still managing to tell a cohesive narrative – it’s not half bad.
6 Season 7: Funkhouser’s Crazy Sister
Larry struggles to break up with his girlfriend as she faces a cancer diagnosis in “Funkhouser’s Crazy Sister,” one of Curb’s all-time darkest episodes. Guest star Catherine O’Hara, playing Funkhouser’s mentally ill sister Bam Bam here, adapts instantly to the improvisational style of Curb, having improvised scenes in almost all of Christopher Guest’s films.
While “Funkhouser’s Crazy Sister” may not be the best episode of the series, it does have plenty of great moments. And it finds a lot of humor in the minutiae of daily life, like when a guest goes into your fridge to get themselves a beverage, uninvited.
5 Season 2: The Car Salesman
In “The Car Salesman,” Cheryl grows tired of Larry’s semi-retirement and starts asking him to work again. While she expects him to get back to writing, he talks his way into a job as a car salesman when he meets Jeff’s friend who runs a dealership.
The scenes on the dealership lot presented Larry David with some lucrative improvisational opportunities, as he tried out all the tricks he’d seen from other car salesmen. On the whole, though, it wasn’t a fantastic episode. It set up the season arc, with Larry working on a new sitcom with Jason Alexander (and later Julia Louis-Dreyfus), but it didn’t do it in an inventive or hilarious way.
4 Season 5: The Larry David Sandwich
All things considered, season 5 is one of Curb’s weaker seasons, but its premiere episode, “The Larry David Sandwich,” was pretty great. The central hook of the season is introduced when Larry thinks he hears his father tell him he’s adopted after choking on a sandwich that Larry’s favorite deli named after him.
But it’s the sandwich that’s the focus of the episode. At first, Larry tries to get it changed, because he doesn’t like the filling of his sandwich, but later, he just wants to take the sandwich named after Richard Lewis, due to a personal grudge with him.
3 Season 3: Chet’s Shirt
It’s always hysterical when Larry David and Ted Danson butt heads. They’re a clash of polar-opposite personalities – neurotic New York comic versus laid-back sitcom star – with one thing in common: they hate not getting their way. This is what makes something as simple as a disagreement over a piece of pie so hilarious with these two.
In the season 3 premiere “Chet’s Shirt,” Larry buys Ted a shirt with a hole in it and they disagree over who should take it back to the store and replace it. This leads to Larry getting demoted from his role at Ted’s daughter’s birthday party and then getting smacked in the mouth with a baseball bat when Ted’s daughter swings for the piñata.
2 Season 4: Mel’s Offer
Anything involving Philip Baker Hall and drool is going to be laugh-out-loud funny. In the season 4 premiere, “Mel’s Offer,” Larry is asked by Mel Brooks to play Max in his Broadway-bound stage musical adaptation of The Producers. But first, Brooks hits him in the head with a bathroom door and he contends with the doctor, played by Hall, who treats his wound and drools on his head.
Also, Larry offends a man in a wheelchair who cuts him off in a parking lot and a lesbian couple he suggests baby names to. The episode has a hilarious ending, with Larry sleeping through The Producers and drooling on the doctor, who happens to be below him in the audience.
1 Season 6: Meet the Blacks
Season 6 opens with three of the strongest episodes in Curb’s history, anchored by a complexly woven and very funny premiere episode. Larry’s idea of pretending to get the wrong night to get out of going to a party gets a lot of laughs, especially when Jeff and Lewis both copy it, while the season arc of a family whose home was destroyed by a hurricane moving into Larry’s house shows promise from the beginning.
It culminates in a party where a cake from an erotic bakery is served to the children and the house burns down. As the firefighters put out the fire the next day, Danson shows up, claiming to have gotten the wrong night. Like all the best Curb episodes, everything comes full circle for a hilarious ending to lead us into the credits on the immortal sounds of “Dun-dun-dun...”