Sunday marked Curb Your Enthusiasm's Season 8 finale, which means today marks the final edition of the Curb Your Enthusiasm Feud (and Food!) Tracker, our modest effort to impose some order and meaning upon a sometimes cruel and incomprehensible Larry David world.
Michael J. Fox
Any episode entitled “Larry vs. Michael J. Fox” is going to have a great deal to talk about, feud-wise, and this one certainly did. We began with Larry listening to his current love interest, Jennifer (SNL’s Ana Gasteyer), who plays lounge piano professionally in a hotel lobby. Larry shushed his fellow patrons, including Fox, who was in the hotel lobby and also happens to live upstairs from Larry at the condo where Larry's staying while he's in New York. Fox shook his head on his way out the door—was it a Parkinson’s shake, or a shake of disapproval? Larry couldn’t be sure. He later went up to Fox’s place to apologize, and drew a Hitler mustache on a man on a magazine cover. Fox informed Larry that the man is his father-in-law (and it is: wife Tracy Pollan’s financial-consultant dad, Stephen Pollan), which angered Fox further. He offered Larry a soda, which exploded when Larry opened it, leading Larry to suspect Fox shook it out of spite and blamed it on the Parkinson’s. Later, Larry accidentally walked into Fox in the building lobby, leading a doorman to think he did so on purpose. Then, at a public fundraising rally, Fox called Larry out for making “the violin gesture,” which he assumed meant Larry didn’t care about the cause. (Larry was referring to an actual violin.) This led Mayor Michael Bloomberg to eject Larry from the city.
Fox wants to put the misunderstandings behind them, and invites Larry to a children’s hospital event. Larry conveniently remembers that he’s busy that day, but asked doing what, can only come up with the fact that he is flying to Paris (mirroring the incident that brought Larry to New York). Which is where Season 8 ends: with Larry arguing with a French man over parking spots, on a very fake-looking Paris set. So, no resolution, really.
Larry boarded his condo elevator and pressed buttons for two floors, angering another passenger. Why the passenger found this so objectionable was never really explained. He merely said, “I’m in a rush.” What a jerk! This inspired a show of button-pressing one-upsmanship between the two that rivaled even Larry’s shelf-space war with Dino (Harry Hamlin).
Larry exited at the next opportunity, leaving the rushed man to wait for the elevator to stop on each pressed floor to reach his destination. But the tiff came back to haunt him, as the condo co-op board used the incident to levy a “strike” against Larry when it was reviewing the Fox complaint.
The pianist Larry is sleeping with has a son, Greg, who's around eight years old, and is basically like a tiny version of your typical Project Runway contestant. Larry met him, explained to him what Hitler and swastikas are (he was drawing one on a magazine cover while waiting for Jennifer to get ready), and quickly realized that Greg is probably “pre-gay.” He later bought Greg a sewing machine for his birthday, which Greg loved, but which Jennifer found offensive, saying, “Are you trying to turn my son gay?” This became a contentious issue between the two. Susie yelled at Larry about the gift, so Larry reluctantly bought a make-up offering: a violin. But when he presented it to Greg, the boy said he loved the sewing machine, and presented Susie with a gift of his own: a pillow sham with a swastika sewn on it. This angered Jennifer even more.
Jennifer seems kind of clueless. Not the type to hold grudges, I’d say. And besides, Larry showered her kid with gifts! Also, what NYC mother is so overtly homophobic about her own, obviously gay kid? Jerk!
Exploding Soda: Did Michael J. Fox shake it on purpose? Or was it the Parkinson’s? We may never know.
And with that, the season comes to a close. Overall, it was a pleasure to cover these ten episodes, which ranged from the truly inspired (particularly the early, LA-based installments "The Safe House" and "Palestinian Chicken") to ones that too often felt strained under the weight of their own premises ("Car Periscope" comes to mind, as does the season finale). There's no question the season offered some valuable additions to the ever-expanding Larry David Dictionary, however, including "pig parker," "social assassin," "chat-and-cut," "shit bow," and the aforementioned "pre-gay." As for Season 9: With all due respect to New York, I hope it brings Larry back to L.A. That city, which glides along daily on surface smiles and sycophantic interactions, is the best possible backdrop for everyone's favorite social assassin.