Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Curb Your Enthusiasm: "The Therapists"

Illustration for article titled Curb Your Enthusiasm: "The Therapists"
Illustration for article titled Curb Your Enthusiasm: "The Therapists"

Last night I saw Gone Baby Gone and then this episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, so in essence I went from a preposterous situation/conspiracy played for drama to a preposterous situation/conspiracy played for comedy. What I learned was this: when something unbelievable happens in a drama, the audience is often awed ("Wow. I never saw that coming."), even if that something is so unbelievable to the point of being mildly ridiculous or distracting. But when something unbelievable happens in a comedy–like, say, Larry's therapist agreeing to mug Cheryl's therapist, going to jail, and then becoming a patient of Cheryl's therapist–it often makes the audience angry. Or it makes at least one person you're watching Curb with say, "God that's so stupid," when Larry's therapist ends up on Cheryl's therapist's couch.

Well, yeah, it's stupid. But it's also funny. Would a real therapist agree to mug his patient's wife's therapist as part of a plan to win the wife back? No. More importantly, would a real therapist dress like Steve Coogan playing Beethoven? Probably not. But if it's funny it serves its purpose. Just like Ed Harris's [SPOILER alert] bombastic acting and Morgan Freeman's crazy kidnapping-and-conspiracy-hatching in Gone Baby Gone can be forgiven if they ratchet up the drama. We should all be more awed and less angered by unbelievable situations in comedies. For instance, when Funkhouser was sitting on the sidelines of his walk-a-thon, I mean, wow. I never saw that coming. And it was hilarious.

I did see Cheryl's return coming (it was inevitable, not to mention featured in the preview), but for once I didn't mind her presence, mainly because watching Larry re-woo her (through a series of precarious lies and stifled annoyances) is very funny. The dinner scene where he has to convince her that he's a different Larry, hide his feelings about sponsoring Funkhouser (who, after all, chose Cheryl), and ask her to move back in with him by a certain deadline was near perfect in its awkwardness. Larry's extended, wordless whine after Cheryl leaves him in the restaurant parking lot was like icing on the cake.

Elsewhere in the episode, I enjoyed Larry's rapport with Steve Coogan, the worst therapist in the world. Watching Coogan get violently arrested in the background while Larry charmed Cheryl's therapist with his heroism was another good example of Curb's awkwardness stretched to its hiliarious limits. And, as always, it was good to see Leon doing what he does best: finding a way to work the phrase, "fuck that up" into the dialogue somehow.

Grade: A-

Stray Observations:

—"He plays tag with himself all around the house…Every time he farts he calls the fire department." Alzheimer's Disease has some really great symptoms.

—Things we've learned about Cheryl this season: She wants a bribe to have sex with Larry, she TiVos Barefoot Contessa, she got herself a "love me" gift (a house on the beach) and refers to it as such, and she blindly listens to everything her therapist tells her. This season has basically been tailored to subtly attack Cheryl's character. Isn't it great? She's so awful.

—Evidently, Jeff Garlin wasn't just wearing a disconcerting bald cap last week. He really did shave his head, cause it's growing back.

—Larry and Steve Coogan's talk at the jail was full of great throwaway lines: "Do you play solitaire?" "What's after 48? 72?"