Larry David has worn many hats throughout Curb Your Enthusiasm’s run. This season alone he’s been a pickle hero and fatwa boy, but more often than not, he’s just a “four-eyed fuck.” “The Accidental Text on Purpose,” last night’s episode of the show, introduced the unlikeliest of roles for Larry: relationship guru. Why anyone would trust Larry with relationship advice is unclear, but for the better part of the episode, Larry doles out some inspired—and appropriately disingenuous—nuggets of wisdom.
At a dinner party hosted by Marty’s (Bob Einstein) girlfriend, Marilyn (Elizabeth Perkins), Richard Lewis makes the mistake of calling his date, Rhonda (Andrea Savage), “honey.” She’s clearly uncomfortable with the term, so Larry hatches a scheme to get his friend out of the jam. Soon, Lewis is throwing out “honeys” left and right, leading Rhonda to believe it’s part of his “working vocabulary” and not a premature sign of commitment. Jeff (Jeff Garland) and Marty are also hoping to get back in their partners’ good graces, so Larry assists them with a texting gambit—a ruse that manipulates the textee into believing the texter is an upright, benevolent individual. The Larry-approved ploy is self-serving, deceitful, and kind of brilliant. Jeff and Marty think as much, anyway, and laud their friend as an “amazing man.”
Larry’s advice may be unethical, but it’s not terrible. In fact, for most of the encounters in “The Accidental Text on Purpose,” I found myself agreeing with Larry. The passengers, Bebe (June Diane Raphael) and Dr. Winocur (Ed Begley Jr.), on the flight that opens the episode? Uncouth. The tap water at the dinner party? Obviously repellent. A Neiman Marcus employee who watches you as you change your clothes? No thank you, Rhonda. If Larry is constantly fluctuating between abhorrent and rational, Curb’s latest installment tilts to his favor. And yet, it’s only a matter of time before Larry’s advice sours and his friends’ relationships fall apart—except for Susie (Susie Essman) and Jeff. (Susie would never “buy that bullshit accidental text” in the first place.) Despite the fallout, Larry walks away mostly unscathed. For a change, it’s his friends who must reap the consequences of placing so much trust in Larry.
At its strongest, the episode loudly and unabashedly tears down life’s relatable inconveniences, from the politics of texting to dinner-party etiquette to appropriate terms of endearment. If the depiction of Larry’s plane ride is less successful it’s because the scene sees him shedding his everyman mien, attempting to mine laughs from his wealth and sense of entitlement. Sure, we get a fun montage of Bebe and Dr. Winocur enacting every in-flight faux pas under the sun, but watching a millionaire boohoo because he has to sit in coach doesn’t exactly rouse one’s pity.
This sequence also sets up a gag that never pays off. Bebe claims to have a bladder condition that requires her to take Larry’s coveted aisle seat. To his chagrin, she doesn’t get up once during the flight. When we meet Bebe again at the end of the episode—this time as Winocur’s date to a golf-club dinner—she’s guzzling water with abandon. The episode seems to be preparing us for a Girl Who Cried Bladder Condition climax, but it never comes.
The episode’s main B plot—wherein Larry and an anonymous neighbor exchange crude messages on Larry’s dusty car—also culminates with a rather tepid punchline. His neighbor, Dave (Benjamin Koldyke), hints that he’s responsible for “wash me,” “bald asshole,” and the rendering of a 14-foot penis. It’s the closest thing to a comeuppance Larry receives in the episode, but he’s hardly offended. Rather, Larry’s more impressed than incensed and tips his cap to the second biggest asshole on the block.
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