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November 26, 2014

Review: Curb Your Enthusiasm - The Black Swan

by Jonathan Toomey, posted Nov 2nd 2009 1:10AM
Jeff Garlin and Larry David
(S07E07) "Look, it may have been an accident, but you're a murderer." - Marty

Blame is a funny thing. In the absence of facts, the owner of the blame (i.e. the person at fault), is about one thing and one thing only -- public perception. Spin a good yarn and you can make 'em believe whatever you want. However, when you're Larry David, getting past the hurdle of your own reputation can be an issue. If you listen to even half the stuff that Larry says, why would anyone want to believe a guy like him?

That fact alone right there is why "The Black Swan" worked so well. It may not have been the best episode of the season, but it was as true to what Curb Your Enthusiasm is all about as we've seen all season. Curb has always been at its best when the box that Larry puts around himself comes back to affect him negatively, and we saw plenty of it here.

Larry claims introducing everyone he knows is a meaningless and dated social courtesy? Fine, then be prepared to say plenty of inappropriate things in front of people you aren't introduced to, like the stonemason. It works even more satisfyingly when Larry's foolish pet peeves aren't being used against him, but he thinks they are, like when the waiter appeared to be shaking Larry down for a big tip, but actually had no idea about the swan killing.

And, speaking of the swan, who's to say it isn't what killed Norm? Larry's theory about the swan perhaps being the reason for Norm's heart attack could actually be true. Maybe it did run at him and startle him, same as it did to Larry? But, here's where that hurdle comes into play -- Larry's reputation makes him an easy target for the blame, and as long as he keeps the act up, it's probably always going to be that way. Besides, anyone who can somehow be vilified for offering to send his cousin's kid to college but not his cousin's wife to cosmetology school isn't going to get a win soon anyway.

Funny stuff:

  • It was great when Marty referenced the "beloved aunt" fiasco (remember, the "a" was replaced with a "c" in the paper's obit) by telling Larry to have his mother's grave say just "beloved moth."
  • How ridiculous were Andy's wife Cassie's hats? I saw that pink cowboy hat and thought, "who'd wear that?" The stonemason, apparently.
  • And speaking of Cassie, if she thinks those hats look good, should she really be going to cosmetology school? I wouldn't let her get within ten feet of me with a make-up brush.
  • The whole scene at the club after the swan killing was incredibly tense, but funny. They all wanted to get the truth out in the open. Sort of like Very Bad Things. Terrible movie, but same idea. Bunch of friends kill a hooker, bury her, then have to lie about it.
  • We finally got the first stare-down contest of the season between Larry and Mr. Takahashi. It was much shorter than we've seen these last in the past, though.
  • Always great when Shelley Berman reprises his role as Larry's dad Nat. He was hilarious in that scene at the cemetery. "Past" instead of "Passed" to save $50? No wonder Larry is the way he is.

One final thought -- I'm curious to hear other people's thoughts on this. In the world of Curb Your Enthusiasm, the pseudo-Hollywood that's been created, is Larry the asshole or is everyone else an asshole to him? Take Norm, calling Larry inconsiderate for asking to play through. Norm is clearly being the asshole, yet Larry is made out to be the jerk. I feel like there's a real deep discussion here, like the chicken or the egg or a square is not a rectangle and vice versa. Who's to blame?

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11 Comments

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GerryofNorVA

Correction, Nat saved $100 ($50/letter) on the engraving. As for whether Larry is an a-hole or it's those around him, Larry is an admitted misanthrope and non-conformist so yeh, he definitely comes off as an a-hole, but the others' reactions to him are equally so, too, so it's a little from column-A and a little from column-B.

November 25 2009 at 8:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dave

Susie Essman plays Jeff's wife. She is hilarious. Check out this widget, it features Susie's potty mouth for your listening pleasure....Enjoy

http://bit.ly/47XOGx

November 05 2009 at 11:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Howard K

I have loved every episode of "Curb" since the show began.
But "The Black Swan" episode was my first big disappointment. I found for the first time that Larry's mean streak crossed the line and it wasn't funny. I always found his self serving antagonism forgiving at the end. But this time it was just boring, boring, boring and too predictable. I know the scripts are outlines and that there is a lot of adlibing, but Larry lost his edge on this one. Hopefully, it was just a one episode blunder. I look forward to next weeks, fingers-crossed. Love you Larry.

November 02 2009 at 7:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Howard K's comment
corny

i had the same reaction. it was still a funny episode, but it was the first time that LD crossed the line from loveable goof to downright mean. it was kind of a shock.

November 09 2009 at 12:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
shamon

Larry friend taking about his mother brings it back from the other season when Larry took those plants and gave it to that school to get the kids from that family called the blacks into it.

November 02 2009 at 5:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
shamon

i really enjoy this show and brought the other seasons off of amazon larry is really funny .

November 02 2009 at 5:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Olwen Hendricks

Larry David is not an asshole gosh darn it! He is a victim of circumstance. Its everybody else who react like big bowls of wrong. Haaahaahaahaaahaaah. Oh man Larry David rules.

November 02 2009 at 3:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Olwen Hendricks

Larry David is not an asshole gosh darn it! He is a victim of circumstance, and everybody else is just a big bowl of wrong. Haaahaahaaahaaahaaah. Oh man Larry David rules!

November 02 2009 at 3:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bruce

I think 90% of the time, everyone is an asshole to Larry, and 10% of the time, Larry is an asshole to others, but usually for a justifiable reason.

I mean, look at the way his brother and his brother's wife treated him. He offers to pay for their daughter's college education, and then they try to shake him down for beauty school for the wife. What the hell? And then they act like Larry is being an unreasonable prick when he says no and takes offense. Larry wasn't the asshole. Usually I find Larry to be a very reasonable guy.

I suck at golf, and whenever I'm dragged out to the golf course I'd not only have no offense if someone wanted to play through b/c I was taking a long time, I'd insist that they do so. Clearly Larry acted in self defense against the swan, which was charging him in attack-mode for no apparent reason. Whether he intended to kill it is irrelevant.

I've noticed that over the years, the people surrounding Larry have gotten more and more unreasonable. Compare the stuff people complain about Larry doing now with the stuff they complained about him doing in season 1.

November 02 2009 at 3:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to bruce's comment
mremis

Andy is not Larry's brother, he is his cousin.

November 02 2009 at 3:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mark

I agree with this. People behaving more irrationally around Larry probably reflects the general shift of the show over the years: despite continued improvisation, Curb is a lot less 'natural' than it was during the first three seasons. Sometimes, this is great, because it creates big laughs (i.e. the absurd 60's flashback scene), but overall I don't like the trend. Too many of the contrived scenes don't work because they're either not realistic, not funny or usually both.

My favorite moment of The Black Swan is when Larry asks how long they have to stand around his mother's grave. (In other words, 'can we get outta here now?'). I guess we laugh at things we identify with.

The funniest bit of the season so far, in my opinion, is when Larry screams at Sammy for waking him up. "Jesus Christ!" I'm not entirely sure why I found that so unbelievably funny, but I've watched it 5 times now and laugh uncontrollably each time. I think it works because it's based on an identifiable experience (being rudely woken up) but what makes it hilarious of course, is Larry's extreme, half-awake and in the context totally inappropriate reaction. Very well-acted on LD's part.

November 05 2009 at 11:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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