Curb Your Enthusiasm promised us the same old Larry for season 11—misanthropic, curmudgeonly, and determined to uphold his own social rules. There wouldn’t be any newfound respect for life or his fellow man, not even in the wake of a pandemic (this season, Curb’s in a mostly post-COVID world).
There’s something almost comforting about that consistency. We can always count on Larry to say or do the wrong thing (even though, according to his own mores, he is doing the right thing). He’s not fazed by hot young stars, streaming executives, or fluffy new towels. Larry’s going to stick by his rules for life, no matter the cost. And we may only be two episodes into the new season, but he’s already paying dearly.
“Angel Muffin” is a pretty standard episode of Curb: You’ve got your guest star (Dylan O’Brien), a favor that proves incredibly inconvenient, a delicate social situation that quickly boils over, and a not insignificant amount of bathroom talk. Young Larry is still shaping up to be part of a season-long arc, though there’s a pretty big setback this week.
Prett-ay reliable stuff, all in all, but I’m still waiting for things to really click. After a premiere that was really just solid, we need something more like “The Pickle Gambit” than “Side Sitting” to pick up the pace. “Angel Muffin” has its moments, including some great line deliveries by J.B. Smoove (“Mary Fergusons don’t fucking grow on trees, Larry!”), but the whole thing is all a little too… loose. The different parts don’t fit together as well as they do when Curb is in the zone. The repeated mentions of the texture of Larry’s towels felt too strained, though they did make me wonder why Larry doesn’t just keep a separate set of linens for guests—kind of seems like it would be in character for him?
When “Angel Muffin” begins, Young Larry (weirdly, I find myself adding an exclamation point to the end of that title every time I type it) is in a promising place. Netflix exec Don Jr. (Reid Scott) is keen to cast Dylan O’Brien, he of the maze running and teen wolfing, as a twentysomething Larry David. They need to do something to shore up the cast, because Maria Sofia’s (Keyla Monterroso Mejia) “audition” only impressed Larry.
There’s a bit of tension in this meeting, which only grows as Larry’s forced to take more meetings with the team after he botches his first, second, and final impressions on Dylan. Don Jr. isn’t sold on Maria Sofia, nor does he seem to buy Larry’s approval of her, which already suggests that Larry’s reflexive dismissal of him based on his name is going to prove wrong. In the first round, Jeff covers for Larry (by claiming he erased Maria Sofia’s “real” audition tape), but by the time a car hits Angel Muffin—that would be the dog of Mary Ferguson #2 (Charlotte Newhouse) or “Deuce”—there’s nothing he can do to smooth things over for his friend and client.
It would have been much too easy for Larry to just hit it off with Dylan, who performs a hilariously obnoxious cover of “Peaches” by Presidents Of The United States. But the initial reason for their conflict is silly even by Curb’s standards. I can understand Larry and Jeff, who grouse about the lack of seating at a nightclub, not knowing to pop in earplugs for a live show. But why is Dylan so taken aback that a couple of septuagenarians would need to plug their ears at his show? Surely, he was wearing his own ear plugs while performing? If not, he should watch Sound Of Metal.
Larry doesn’t help matters by telling Dylan that the concert “stunk,” or that he didn’t invent pet-friendly al fresco dining. Their falling-out was inevitable, though I didn’t see Larry blowing up his Netflix deal so soon. His particularity about toilets once again came back to bite him, but I’m sure he’ll eventually take pride in the fact that he took the janitor (George Paez as Julio)’s word over a VP’s.
In addition to expanding the show’s guest-star roster, the A-story complicates Larry’s deal with Marcus (Marques Ray); how is he supposed to give Maria Sofia her big break now? Don Jr. does suggest that Larry shop his show elsewhere, so maybe we’ll meet some fictional Hulu or Tubi executives soon. But it’s still anyone’s guess where this is all going.
For now, we watch as Larry’s Kleenex trick undermines the recon he’s been doing at the office of Dr. Thanapapalous (Mitch Poulos), where he’s been trying to get a crown replaced while also trying to determine if Angie (Katy Fullan) is bilking Jeff out of money post-abortion. WHEW.
Despite his negative qualities, Larry can usually be counted on to return a favor, though, naturally, he has strict criteria for carrying one out and accepting the obligation in the first place. Larry’s commitment to his surveillance, which leads to an altercation with his new dentist, shows his friendship with Jeff is as strong as ever. Jeff even goes against Susie to back Larry on the “aged towel” thing, albeit only in very specific circumstances. We’ll see if this bond is their undoing this season—the Angie story doesn’t really seem to be resolved by the end of “Angel Muffin.”
Together, “The Five-Foot Fence” and “Angel Muffin” have put some of the scaffolding in place for season 11, though the structure isn’t looking quite as strong as that of the musical in season nine, or the spite store in season 10. There’s plenty of time for things to come together, as there are already so many loose ends. Larry still hasn’t put up the fence, Marcus still has him over a barrel, and Leon needs to find another Mary Ferguson to woo in order to take his trip to Asia. Hopefully, the third Mary will be pet-free.
- I hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Mary Ferguson #2, because I enjoyed watching her get just as loud as Larry when taking a stand about leftover etiquette. Charlotte Newhouse matched Larry David’s volume and injured tone, one “WOW” at a time.
- That said, surely, she could have given Larry a slice or two of that steak! Angel Muffin is much too small to have even three slices, let alone five. Ultimately, he doesn’t have the stomach for it at all.
- Larry: “Humans should take precedence over an animal.”
- Mary: “But pets should take precedence over someone I just met.” Sorry for being hung up on this, but they both make good points!
- “Don’t you see how relevant [“Peaches”] is now?” I can see how someone who’s just had an edible might feel this way.
- Fingers crossed that future auditions for Young Larry include Logan Lerman and Dylan Minnette.
- Larry’s initial concern about Don Jr. was tied to that other Don Jr., but this week, he seemed dismissive of Juniors in general. But there are clearly some great “sequels”!
- Where do we all land in the towel debate? I prefer fluffy/pat dry.
- I cannot wait to watch Cheryl Hines direct Maria Sofia: