Season 7 of the critically acclaimed HBO mockumentary Curb Your Enthusiasm opens with its protagonist trying to dump a cancer patient before it veers toward “vehicular fellatio,” wheelchair jokes and holy piss.
That said, it may be the series’ most heartfelt season yet.
Curb, which stars funnyman Seinfeld producer Larry David as an extra-assholic version of himself, has always pushed the boundaries of awkwardness and civility, forcing Larry into cringe-worthy social situations that make Seinfeld’s comedy of manners look like a walk in Central Park.
But Season 7 is also a love story, as Larry searches his soul and tries to win back the wife he lost in Season 6. he even goes so far as to reunite the old Seinfeld cast for a TV special — an idea he found tasteless until he realized it would allow Cheryl to see the old in-charge, professional Larry and possibly reignite their flame.
Of course, the series continues to mine our foibles. in one episode, Larry and Jerry request, reasonably, that their secretary not wear clothes that expose her flabby midriff. That gets Larry in trouble with Julia Louis-Dreyfus and converts both secretary and mother into miracle-believers. In another episode, Larry’s enthusiasm for West Side Story nearly gets him arrested.
But now more than ever, Larry seems less like a mere asshole than an actual victim. Yes, it was his raging self-interest that lost him his wife in the first place, but as he struggles to get Cheryl back, he just seems like a good guy getting a raw deal. An offer to pay his cousin’s daughter’s college tuition begets accusations of greed. His indignation seems justified when Ted Danson appreciates his expensive gift less than someone else’s crappy “heartfelt” one.
Meanwhile, Larry’s corralling the fickle, twisted, paranoid Seinfeld cast — an experience that’s both funny and surreal. (who knew Larry was so George?) But as you watch the cast go over the script for the reunion show (which, it’s worth noting, we never get to see), you realize that it’s only funny in the context of the Curb episode you’re watching: The show Seinfeld sired has long since outpaced its progenitor. (Rated TV-MA)