“Curb Your Enthusiasm” is back and hasn’t lost a step

The ninth season is off to a great start.

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Season 9, Episode 1 — “Foisted!”

Rating: B+

When it comes to Curb Your Enthusiasm, growth and development are anathema to the show’s fundamental goals of attacking pointless social norms and placing its characters in the most awkward of situations as a result of not following said social norms. Now back for its long-delayed ninth season, Larry David’s HBO masterpiece has lost none of its spark or its bite.

The first episode — entitled “Foisted!” and aired on October 1 — catches up with Larry five years after we last saw him, having just written a new Broadway musical called “Fatwa!” The project has gathered a lot of interest from all the top Broadway producers, and to promote the upcoming project, Larry goes on the Jimmy Kimmel Show.

Meanwhile, Larry’s assistant isn’t working out, but because she has a physical impairment, Larry feels like he can’t actually fire her — he has to “foist” her onto someone else. To fill in for her absence, Leon volunteers to become Larry’s assistant, which is just a terrible idea and leads to some really horrible consequences for Larry. And somewhere in there, Larry inadvertently breaks up a lesbian wedding when he suggests that the “bride” and “groom” switch roles because of their appearances.

As a self-proclaimed “social assassin,” Larry’s targets are far and wide. Soap dispensers that don’t work when you twist the top, holding the door for a lesbian because she might not want a man to hold the door for her, and whether or not constipation is a stay-at-home condition are all pressing social issues that are addressed by Curb Your Enthusiasm — within the first ten minutes of the episode. Things only get crazier from there, and that’s a good thing.

The episode also features a large subplot that skewers the concept of fatwas and, consequently, may rub some viewers the wrong way with thoughts of Islamophobia; this is par for the course with Curb Your Enthusiasm, which has never shied away from aiming at anything and everything under the sun.

Not much has changed in terms of style or tone. The show is using better cameras so everything looks nicer, but other than that, it’s shocking how much the visuals of this show haven’t changed in over 15 years. The episode does have the feel of a reunion tour, though. While I won’t spoil all the cameos and surprise appearances — most of which are very short, only a scene or two — each person gets a relatively big introductory moment. For those of you who have kept up with Curb Your Enthusiasm through the years, it feels like catching up with old friends; we don’t get to see all our old friends in this episode, but hopefully they’ll show up later.

“Foisted!” ends on a note of uncertainty in terms of what Larry will do going forward, and even where Larry will live for the remainder of the season. New York City is mentioned at one point, but by the end of the episode, that possibility seems less likely (and besides, we just got “the New York season” last time around). Who knows what Larry David has in store for us over the course of the next nine episodes, but as of now, I can’t wait to watch the rest of them. Curb Your Enthusiasm and its curmudgeonly star are still at the top of their game.

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