Curb Your Enthusiasm allowed Larry David (co-creator of Seinfeld) to step in front of the camera in a starring role and gain a larger footprint in the mainstream media. The show provided a platform for David to present all of his twisted, hilarious ideas in a mature setting that Seinfeld did not allow. Airing on HBO, Curb Your Enthusiasm provided mature themes under a juvenile setting, with the show following a fictionalized version of David in his daily minutiae. The endearing series has countless classic episodes that deserve to be recognized, but here are 10 that (as David would put it) are “prett-ay, prett-ay, prett-ay, pretty good.”
In celebration of the great Larry David’s 72nd birthday, here are 10 of our all-time favorite episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Enjoy!
10. “The Car Salesman” (Season 2, Episode 1)
Season two’s premiere marked a shift in tone that the show would continue to develop and which would prove to be successful. Season two begins the trend of creating a major season-long plot point, whereas season one simply presented self-contained episodes. During “The Car Salesman,” Larry begins to envision the art of pitching a new pilot to Jason Alexander, one of his former Seinfeld stars. The pilot would center on the notion of an actor who has been typecast and is unable to stray from the role he played during a successful television series. The ingenious idea only begins to see its legs here as the episode itself is more of a comedic highpoint. Larry also decides on a whim to attempt selling vehicles, with no prior sales experience and little to no knowledge of cars themselves. The result is as poor as expected, yet proves to be laugh-out-loud comical throughout.
9. “The Larry David Sandwich” (Season 5, Episode 1)
As becomes custom, the premiere of season five is delightfully funny while successfully setting up the year’s main plot arc. This season, which would revolve around Larry’s friend Richard Lewis and his need for a kidney donor, begins in stellar fashion. The laughs presented in this episode center on Larry’s ungrateful behavior toward a local delicatessen that names an unappetizing sandwich after him. Containing onions, capers, whitefish, sable, and cream cheese, Larry finds the contents revolting and insists on having his friend Ted Danson switch sandwiches with him, which he refuses. The subject matter, including the idea of Larry “scalping” tickets to a High Holiday event which leads to his ejection from Temple, is simply classic Curb. The episode’s conclusion, which has Larry believing he is adopted, has Larry absolutely delirious with joy and grinning like he never has, which in turn leads to the audience suffocating from laughter.
8. “The Weatherman” (Season 4, Episode 4)
“The Weatherman” contains a plot point so absurd yet so very comical, as Larry believes the weatherman is reporting false precipitation reports. When Larry and his friend Jeff Garlin cancel their round of golf due to the poor weather forecast, they are very disappointed to discover the skies remain clear and the course remains free of rain. Larry proclaims that the report is constantly incorrect and eventually theorizes that the weatherman is intentionally giving incorrect forecasts in order to keep the golf course empty on days the weatherman is planning to play a round of golf. As is customary for Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry takes his opinion too far and confronts the weatherman, creating awkward scenes nothing short of hilarious. Criticizing an arrogant character rarely works for Larry, and as always he ends up making a fool of himself in outrageous fashion.
7. “Denise Handicapped” (Season 7, Episode 5)
One of the final classic episodes of the series, “Denise Handicapped” is found during the penultimate season of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Larry seldom uses his phone to record the last names of the people in his life, opting instead to use the traits of the person as an association. He explains how Shawn Yoga and Teresa Masseuse occupy spots in his phone without him ever knowing their last names. This tactic is an offense that is relatable for many, as this is indeed natural human behavior. But the horrifying development is a predicament that only Larry David can get himself into. Earlier acquiring a date with a handicapped wheelchair-bound woman, Larry had placed her in his phone solely as “Denise Handicapped” and when his phone is lost, he has no means to contact her without knowing her full name. Seeking her out proves uproarious, as Larry decides to ask other wheelchair-bound women in the neighborhood about Denise, thinking handicapped women must know other handicapped women. The conclusion revolves around Larry scoring a date with a different handicapped woman named “Wendy Wheelchair,” and during their inevitable encounter with one another, one can expect Larry to prove as awkward as ever.
6. “Chet’s Shirt” (Season 3, Episode 1)
Another season premiere, “Chet’s Shirt” arrives and successfully juggles separate storylines into one satisfying conclusion. At the episode’s outset, Larry throws an apple into someone’s garbage bin while he is walking, only to be threatened assault if he ever uses the man’s garbage bin again. That storyline would eventually be tied up when Ted Danson, walking down the same street, uses the man’s garbage to dispose of his ripped shirt. The audience is suddenly reminded of the forgotten opening in trademark Curb fashion.
The episode’s title is drawn from the dead husband of a family friend. After Larry sees the deceased man in a photo wearing a shirt that he adores, he soon becomes obsessed with the shirt. After tracking it down, he purchases three copies: two for himself (in case one is stained) and one for Ted as a gift (which he does not initially accept). Needless to say, by the conclusion of the episode Larry is in possession of zero copies of the shirt as they are all destroyed.
5. “The Therapists” (Season 6, Episode 9)
“The Therapists” receives the majority of its laughs from the tragic demise of Larry’s therapist. The episode centers around Larry’s attempts to ingratiate himself once more with his wife Cheryl. Larry begins seeing a therapist and receives poor advice, further distancing himself from Cheryl. In a term of repayment, the therapist agrees to stage a mugging in front of Cheryl’s therapist in order to make Larry appear as a hero. Unfortunately, as disastrous results tend to occur when Larry is involved, this idea backfires and Larry’s therapist is sent to prison. Further complicating the plot is a tangled love triangle involving Larry, Cheryl and Cheryl’s therapist, who has fallen in love with Larry. In order to curry favor with Cheryl, Larry must present himself well to the therapist and yet, Larry remains interested in Cheryl and therefore must turn the therapist down in her advances. A highly-intelligent episode concluding with both therapists eventually comparing notes, once again things do not go Larry’s way.
4. “The Car Pool Lane” (Season 4, Episode 6)
Containing multiple fascinating storylines, all of which provide immense humor, “The Car Pool Lane” is one of the best episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Providing a glimpse of Jorge Garcia (later to star as Lost’s Hugo Reyes) as a drug dealer, the episode is worth admission simply to see how Larry’s awkwardness translates in this situation. Fortunately, the episode delivers on all aspects. Attempting to arrive at Dodger Stadium on time for a game, Larry becomes buried in traffic and his timeliness begins to appear bleak. Larry then has the foresight to hire a prostitute as a passenger in his car for the sole purpose of driving in the carpool lane. This absurd idea is as comical in execution as it is in theory. Arriving at the game on time, Larry attempts to upgrade his tickets by sitting with his friend Marty Funkhouser, who is attending the game by himself but has two prime tickets. He has reserved one seat for his deceased father who he had planned on taking, and Marty refuses to give up the empty seat. Naturally, Larry’s trademark insensitivity is present in full force.
3. “The Doll” (Season 2, Episode 7)
Larry, still attempting to receive the green light for the production of his proposed pilot, has ditched Jason Alexander in the starring role and has moved on to Julia-Louis Dreyfus. With Larry finally not disrupting network approval, the pair successfully pitch the idea to ABC and are set to begin production. As the audience knows, Larry can’t possibly maintain this good fortune and the mystery is simply under what incredible elements Larry will destroy this particular opportunity. In the case of “The Doll,” Larry decides to give a haircut to a priceless doll belonging to the network executive’s daughter. Realizing the hair would not grow back, the daughter, in hysterics, points out what Larry has done. Making matters worse is Larry’s decision to steal the head from an identical doll, being forced to hide it in his pants, and developing a rash from the synthetic hair. A perfect ending ties the episode together, proving to be one of the most polished and well-executed episodes of the series.
2. “The Survivor” (Season 4, Episode 9)
Airing in 2004 during the heightened popularity of the CBS reality show Survivor, “The Survivor” parodies the contestants that compete on the game show with Holocaust Survivors. Only Curb Your Enthusiasm would present this misunderstanding, pushing the envelope as far as possible. An appearance from Colby Donaldson, a competitor on the show, along with a Holocaust survivor has the two debating over which of them suffered more (“We had very little rations, no snacks! I wore my sneakers out; next thing I know I’m wearing flip-flops!”) Also containing interesting elements involving a Hasidic dry cleaner, “The Survivor” is a controversial episode with intentions that are respectable at heart, despite initial perception. Up until the very end of the episode, where Larry evacuates a building due to an earthquake and Colby exclaims to him “we survived!,” this title never lets up.
1. “The Ski Lift” (Season 5, Episode 8)
The finest episode that Curb Your Enthusiasm has to offer, season five’s “The Ski Lift” is the ideal episode to present to someone unfamiliar with the show, despite taking place in the middle of a season-long story arc. Larry, proving as lovingly-despicable as always, attempts to manipulate a man named Ben Heineman, the head of a kidney-transplant association, into moving his friend Richard Lewis up the list of donors. Larry’s intentions are always noble, yet his actions are deplorable. This balance creates the humor of the show and encapsulates this episode in particular. Throughout the episode, Larry pretends to be a devout Jewish individual to gain favor with Ben, who happens to be Orthodox. The humor involved includes Larry’s wife cooking bacon in the morning, leaving a clear smell behind, and the Orthodox family stating that a set of plates must be physically buried outside due to improper kosher usage. Despite this, Larry is seemingly on his way to victory until disaster strikes late; a ski lift malfunction has Ben’s daughter stuck on the lift while the sun is going down and Larry’s insensitivity returns in full force.