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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Curb Your Enthusiasm: "The N Word"

Illustration for article titled Curb Your Enthusiasm: "The N Word"
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Illustration for article titled Curb Your Enthusiasm: "The N Word"

Last night's Curb was the first post-separation episode, so I was hoping for a blissfully Cheryl-free episode, and for the most part, that's what we got. Cheryl only appeared in Larry's estrogen-and-gelato-induced dream montage of the good times they had together—a montage that was saved from complete syrupy sentimentality by the inclusion of the scene where Cheryl runs out of the car wash, and the scene where she helped Larry get a pube out of his mouth. Awww…fond memories.

Unfortunately, though, even though the episode was nearly Cheryl-free, it wasn't devoid of problems, most of them having to do with the set-up involving the N word.

Like the sign language/hand signal miscommunications in "The Rat Dog," the gaps in understanding were too broad to be believed in this episode. Jeff's doctor went from casually walking past to extreme, patient-shaving rage in less than a second when he overheard Larry recount the story about overhearing a guy in the bathroom say "nigger." For the doctor to assume that this stranger was insulting him, even though it was obvious Larry wasn't, is a bit of a stretch. It was an even bigger stretch when Loretta, who knows Larry, assumed he was using the word in malice when she overheard him say it in the foyer. Of course, Curb is fueled by such logical leaps and contrivances. The show isn't about believability. But when the set-up feels so forced, it can be distract from the overall humor.

As for the rest of the episode, I kind of felt like it was all set-up for the season finale (2 more episodes to go, and I'm sure both the n word and Larry's penchant for "stabbing women in the stomach" will play roles), without a lot of payoff. Although there were many bright moments: we learned that Larry's penis has a five-second rule, Jeff became an unwitting victim of bald discrimination, and Larry dated a doctor who was the living embodiment of every doctor stereotype: bad handwriting, clinical demeanor, waiting room at home. I particularly liked the doctor storyline. It felt like a George plot from an early unaired episode of Seinfeld, and I mean that in a good way.

Grade: B

Stray Observations:

—This is really obvious, considering that I'm not shy about expressing my feelings about Cheryl (i.e., Death), but I really like Larry dating. There's a newfound sweetness and vulnerablity there. Also, he looks funny sitting in his underwear, waiting for sex.

—Jeff drinks Arnold Palmers? Somehow that seems right.

—Speaking of Jeff, how disconcerting is it to see him bald? It's like the New Year's Eve baby put on a suit, gained 250 pounds and aged 40 years.