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“Girlfriend” is a four-letter word on Curb Your Enthusiasm

(Photo: John P. Johnson)
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“You’re saying your penis is like the Titanic?”

“In some ways, they’re comparable.”

More often than not, Larry’s lack of filter earns him condemnation, not validation or praise. But there’s occasionally someone who benefits from his inability to keep critiques to himself—in the past, we’ve seen his disregard for others weaponized. “The Accidental Text On Purpose” similarly attempts to harness Larry’s opinionated stance on everything from unfiltered water to unearned coziness in what feels like another familiar outing. But this not so much a retread as it is another exploration of yet another thing Larry is either indifferent to or overly passionate about (few things seem to lie in the middle).


I was a little surprised by how often I found myself agreeing with Larry in “The Accidental Text On Purpose.” I kept a running tally throughout, and my scribbled notes include such things as everything about that flight—looks like airplane-based humor remains a sure bet—concerns about dirty water (I’m from Chicago, after all), changing clothes in front of another person, hesitation about terms of endearment, and the enduring appeal of Sophia Loren.

Somewhat more surprising was how, despite the number of fallouts this episode, Larry emerged mostly unscathed. There’s a brief moment when his only friends are Jeff and Susie, but that doesn’t last long. The worst thing that happens to him is he finally relents and gets his car washed, effectively losing his stalemate with Don Frank. But the absence of his comeuppance is more notable for inadvertently reminding us of the whole fatwa situation. This makes two episodes that barely address what looked to be the overarching story this season. Maybe now that we’re in the second half of the season, the show is just prepared to forget about it, like it did with Larry’s exile to New York in season eight. I haven’t had the same objections to it as some fans, but am always happy to watch Larry say too much. (Still, we can’t quite count the fatwa story out, as Curb has always been adept at dovetailing.)

(Photo: John P. Johnson)

Overall, “The Accidental Text” is a mostly consequence-free (for LD) outing that delivers solid laughs—June Diane Raphael as the passenger from hell, i.e., real life, is a particularly inspired choice—while showcasing Larry’s most definable and enviable trait. Curb briefly ponders (via Susie) why Larry should always feel so free to say whatever the hell he wants, pointing out he has nothing to lose in most of these situations. But mostly, Larry’s friends are content to let him get his hands dirty, something he also seems only too happy to do. The other dinner guests secretly goading him are all of us sighing over our inability to send something back at a restaurant. I know there’s a drought in California, but there should still be some standards for drinking water, Marilyn (Elizabeth Perkins).


Standards are kind of the running theme here, as we see Larry rightly call out Dr. Winocur (Ed Begley Jr.), for declining to help the sick passenger on their flight. This is after he agrees to switch seats with a water-misting Raphael, whose montage of airplane assholery is one of the highlights of the episode (seriously, who buffs their nails before takeoff?). For Curb to work, Larry has always had to be a dick, but not the biggest dick. And he makes a lot of sense here from open to close, whether he’s clucking his tongue over Richard Lewis’ premature “honey” (and later, “girlfriend”) or the presumably lead-filled water Marilyn serves her boyfriend Marty. He even manages to give some decent albeit deceitful advice, which eventually blows up in his friends’ faces. But he also takes Marty and Richard’s decisions to bow to their girlfriends’ ultimatums in stride, noting that it’s hard for them to find anyone willing to date them at this point.

Curb seems fully aware of the fact that Larry’s on a roll here—we even see him chomping on a cigar while explaining the episode’s eponymous move to Marty after he’s already advised Jeff. The birdie he lands is just the icing on the cake. It’s as close to joyful as this show gets, as Susie gets what she wants (a ride to the airport), Dr. Winocur is hung out to dry at a dinner after stiffing Larry on a bet, and Marty effectively breaks up with Marilyn over her “frog’s ass” water. The button on the episode reveals who was behind the dick drawing and “wash me” note, a manipulation so effective that all Larry can do is symbolically doff his hat at the perpetrator, just as I tip my hat to David and the rest of the cast.


Stray observations

  • First, thanks to Randall for his excellent review of last week’s episode!
  • Richard Lewis throwing out “honeys” left and right reminds me so much of having dinner with my dad.
  • “Goldfish would commit suicide in this water.”
  • Larry’s “happy to play with a reprobate,” even Charles Manson or Hitler, as long as they play quickly.
  • Larry’s love of Sophia Loren is well established, but considering he’s a 70-year-old man, his insta-boner in the dressing room seems like wishful thinking.
  • A point I was surprised Larry didn’t make was that if Rhonda felt it was too soon to be called Richard’s girlfriend, how could she feel comfortable issuing ultimatums? That’s a “significant other”-type of move. I fully expected Larry to outline at what point in the relationship or not-relationship she would be entitled to do so.

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