In last week’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David briefly played the people’s hero, standing up to self-righteous hostesses and ill-mannered travelers. In “Namaste,” he proudly reemerges as a shameless asshole and nuisance, which leads to some of the best—and worst—tussles of the season so far.
Larry’s crude, typically unthinking behavior is often unwarranted and spares no one. But once in a while, the Curb universe is peppered with people who are inexplicably mean to Larry, giving him a much-deserved taste of his own medicine and providing some inspired verbal sparring. Larry is considerate enough to leave a note behind after backing into a stranger’s car, but when the owner of the vehicle, Justin, (Marc Evan Jackson), later calls him, the man gives Larry “zero credit for leaving a note,” going so far as to call him a “complete garbage person.” It’s only when Justin mistakes Leon (J.B. Smoove) for Larry that he backs off (it seems that neither Justin nor Larry are able to identify one’s race over the phone, as Larry had earlier exclaimed “You’re black!” at a mechanic, played by Doc Farrow, he had presumed to be white).
Rendered carless by the fender bender, Larry has another wonderfully callous exchange with his Romanian Uber driver (Greg Tuculescu), who, when asked to rate Larry’s attractiveness on the app’s user-satisfaction scale, grants him a lowly two stars. “You live in a fantasy world,” he exclaims to Larry, a self-proclaimed four. “You’re from one of the most unattractive countries on the planet,” Larry coldly responds. At the beginning of the episode, Larry also flings barbs at a hot-yoga instructor (Alison Becker), who can’t fathom why Larry won’t say “namaste” at the end of class. It only takes one minute for Yogi Tina to pointedly inquire, “Are you familiar with etiquette?”
Etiquette has never been Larry’s strong suit, but one place where it’s especially lacking is on your average L.A. bus, which Larry must resort to riding when his single-star rating makes Ubering impossible. Throughout the season, Larry’s more unsavory tussles have occurred at the expense of city employees or people in the service industry. “Namaste” is the second episode in a row where Larry bristles at the thought of taking a more “plebeian” form of transit, and he takes it out on the bus driver (Lateefah Holder), urging her to speed through yellow lights. Curb has always been able to extract rude behavior from every conceivable scenario, so to root so much conflict in classism is uninspired at best and blindly elitist at worst. Also uncomfortable is Larry’s attempt to converse with a passenger (Alice Lo) in fake Chinese—an attempted callback to his great fake Yiddish in season five’s “The Ski Lift.”
All told, this sequence is quick and ends happily, with Larry being catapulted onto the sidewalk by angry passengers. This ruins his chances of an afternoon tryst with a promising new love interest, Bridget (Lauren Graham). Larry’s been on a few bungled dates this season, and a relationship might add the sort of stability that Cheryl once provided. The episode also reignites discussion of the fatwa—the reasoning behind Bridget’s attraction to Larry—a plotline that’s been largely forgotten these last few weeks.
To Larry, one potentially thorny aspect of Graham’s character is her son, Eddie (Braxton Herda), who has Asperger’s. Shamelessly, Larry has already begun to exploit the developmental disorder, feigning a diagnosis to make his mechanic feel guilty. Larry’s marriage ended because his wife didn’t respect wood. If his new relationship is going to last, Larry will have to conceal the fact that he thinks Bridget’s kid is “just an asshole.” In other words, he’ll have to familiarize himself with a little thing called etiquette.
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