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Review: Curb Your Enthusiasm - The Bare Midriff

by Jonathan Toomey, posted Oct 26th 2009 10:15AM
Larry David
(S07E06) "Larry?! You sprayed on Jesus??" - Maureen

For as good an episode as "The Bare Midriff" was, it still had one huge problem that has plagued many past episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm as well. The central conflict -- Maureen's exposed stomach -- was just too much of a stretch (no pun intended). Why's that? The beauty of Curb is how well it sheds light on awkward situations we all relate to. Not so much on this one, because honestly, who in their right mind would think a short shirt like that was work appropriate attire? It wasn't believable, that Maureen thought her shirt was OK for the office. Fortunately, if you were willing to look past the absurdity of the issue, it paid off with arguably one of Curb's top five endings ever.

As Larry tried to stop Maureen's mother from jumping off the roof at the studio, he slipped and grabbed on to Maureen's stomach to save himself. He grabbed her pudgy, stomach flab and didn't fall off the roof -- the bare midriff saves the day! Had she been wearing a normal t-shirt, he would have grabbed that and the cotton surely would have ripped. Makes me feel bad for Jillian Bell, the actress who played Maureen, because lets face it -- while it was in the service of good comedy, she was cast in this role for only one reason.

The rest of the episode featured some really great moments, but the highlight was the Mad Men-esque flashback to 1962, when Maureen's mother, Madeline, recounted the story of her murdered husband Tom, who looked just like Larry. It was great, how in her re-telling of his last minutes on Earth, Tom seemed to act just like Larry. The pay off at the end, as she re-lived the same moment and thought Richard Lewis was going to attack Larry with the baseball bat was even better. The car was the same, the song on the radio was the same -- no blood on the windshield this time, though.

More thoughts:

  • I watched this one live and didn't DVR it, so I'm not sure I heard it clearly, but did the irate driver call Jerry a c*nt face?
  • What's Larry taking? Avodart? That's the weak pee stream pill, right? Or is it Flomax? Whatever it is, I wonder how they feel about their pill being used as a set-up for Jesus' likeness being splashed on?
  • Add in the pizza shop owner sending the cops after Larry because he took too many napkins to the unrealistic pile. This was set up simply to serve the plot and there were plenty of other ways Larry could have been held up that were legit.
  • I was also hoping that Meg Ryan would create a bit more tension with Cheryl, but that got dumped pretty quickly since her schedule is busy.
  • Larry called Maureen's stomach a "protuberance." Hilarious.
  • "All bald people do not look alike!" Apparently they do, black or white.

Seeing as how Larry is using all his experiences from the past for the Seinfeld reunion special (the doll, the TiVo guy), I wonder if this experience, the girl with the bare midriff, will make the cut?

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does anyone know the name of the actress who plays the bare midriff's (Maureens) mother?? Got a wager riding on it

October 28 2009 at 1:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jabroni's comment

her name is Marianne Muellerleile

November 02 2009 at 9:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Larry is an equal opportunity offender. He's made fun of every religion and ethnicity. Good lord I can't remember them all: the burka, the Bat Mitzvah, the Jesus Nail, Black people, Hispanics, Orthodox Jewish cleaners, handicapped and on and on. If you're suddenly offended, you must have slept thru the first six seasons.

October 27 2009 at 4:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

First off - jeez, lighten up Tom. Post your religious outrage elsewhere.

Loved the episode. I don't watch Curb for any sense of realism - I watch it for the hilarious dialogue and Seinfeld-esque humor (and people inevitably yelling at Larry of course). Which this episode delivered on, especially the scenes with Jerry and Larry together. I agree with above posts - you can completely see how they collaborated on Seinfeld over the years. I could watch their hilariously pointless dialogue (the conversation about who gets the "luxury suite" at lunch w/ Richard Lewis was priceless) all day. Good episode - can't wait till the reuinion starts getting "filmed".

Any one who got offended by the Jesus picture part of the episode - lighten up. If Larry David gets under your skin that much, how in god's name did you watch the show for this long.

October 27 2009 at 4:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Chris's comment

"Any one who got offended by the Jesus picture part of the episode - lighten up. If Larry David gets under your skin that much, how in god's name did you watch the show for this long."


October 28 2009 at 9:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tom Hila

This crossed the line. Urine on that picture made a statement about the man and his view as a Jew. To hell with what everyone else thought.

And you're wrong about the audience not being missed. Let me piss on one of your loved ones, let's say your mother or your deceased spouse, then nationally televise it, and see how you feel about it.

I watched him in the past and I enjoyed most of the episodes. I could forgive actions that in my view were of ignorance, versus malice. This was malice, pure and simple.

I will join others in demanding the episode be pulled from future airing. I'll not watch any of his shows going forward.

Tom, 2009 A.D. That's right -- that's 2009 years since the event that shaped the calendar most widely used in the world. That event? The birth of Christ.

October 27 2009 at 3:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Should the issue not be....Why did they have a picture of Jesus over the commode in the bathroom? Divine Intervention needed?

October 27 2009 at 11:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I am no prude but pissing and havign splash damage on the Jesus picture corssed a line. I am christian but I would nver desecrate a religious symbol such as the Koran, Talmud, or hte bible, and any otehr significant symbol of the religion. I am one of Larry Davids biggest fans but unfortunately without an apology to christians I will no longer be watchign the Curb show or supporting HBO projects.

October 26 2009 at 8:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to ray's comment
Eric H

You wont be missed, were you also offended by the baptism?

October 27 2009 at 10:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I loved this episode. It was laugh out loud for most of the episode. I agree that it deviated from the typical CYE formula in that most of the set-ups weren't believable, but so what. But there are women in LA who wear shirts like this -- I've seen it.

What I really liked was the chemistry between Larry and Jerry. You could totally see how these guys wrote Seinfeld together and got their ideas.

The pee scenes were really funny, too, BTW. And who cares if it was iconoclastic re: Jesus. I bet if Jesus was actually real and not fiction, he would be ROFL.

P.S. Yes the irate driver called Jerry a c*nt face. But not a beloved 'aunt' face =)

October 26 2009 at 12:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Tool's comment

I forgot to mention the whole bit about honking. People in LA do go bat-sh*t crazy if you honk at them in traffic. I do it all the time since about half the people are eating, putting on make-up, texting, masturbating, sleeping, day-dreaming, and generally zombie-like while driving.

October 26 2009 at 1:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have to say that the urine on the picture of Jesus offended me, what if that was a picture of Mohammad?
Can you say RIOTS!
The interaction between Jerry and Larry, was fantastic.

October 26 2009 at 12:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Craig's comment

So craig ,you are comparing your and christian reactions to a religous insult to a muslims??????

November 09 2009 at 9:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm pretty liberal and up for a good joke - but urinating on a the face of Jesus is very offensive and I'm surprised Jerry would be a part of that sort of an episode . .

October 26 2009 at 11:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to Tony's comment
Alex K.

This was not a good episode. Ridiculously unrealistic and the only one in "Curb" history I found to be offensive. And not because of the stomach.

October 26 2009 at 10:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Alex K.'s comment

I thought it was a great episode. The napkin thing was a a plot device for sure, but pretty much in line with the focus on trivial annoyances that has always been a hallmark of David and Seinfeld's comedy. They can't all be gems.

The midriff thing was so dead on accurate and funny considering what we have all seen in public the last few years (tell me you haven't seen someone who should have covered that midriff). The all bald guys look the same was great commentary on stereotypes, very similar to the wheelchair episode when Larry asked Wendy Wheelchair if she knew his other handicapped friend.

Bit shocked by the blood on the windshield, but didn't offend me, just wasn't expecting them to go that far.

What I really liked was the interaction between Larry and Jerry. I know it was improv, but it made me think I was getting a glimpse into how that writing process must have been for them during Seinfeld. Whether it was true or not, for a Seinfeld fan, it was a real treat.

October 26 2009 at 11:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

.....obviously didn't see the "The Christ Nail"

October 26 2009 at 9:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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