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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Death and humiliation remain constant on Curb Your Enthusiasm

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The fucking Jets... he loved them so much and all they did was disappoint.

“The Ugly Section” is more of a romp than it has any right to be. Let’s consider the broad strokes: There are multiple rashes, one death, one armed robbery, one fired employee (though not for long), and, as has often been the case with Curb’s curmudgeon, a series of small indignities. But Larry David and Jeff Schaffer once more find the humor in playing with expectations, whether it’s Larry coming to terms with not being fit for the pretty section of a popular Italian eatery, or Veronica (Jane Krakowski) living up to her late husband’s “magical” description.


When you take a closer look, tonight’s episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm also has all the makings of a solid half-hour (in this case, 37 minutes) of self-loathing and comedy—a dash of Susie, a nemesis for Larry (Nick Kroll, as a smarmy restaurant manager), debate over the proper etiquette of an unusual situation, and an inconsequential matter for Larry to turn into a hill he’s ready to die on. Even Richard Lewis manages to run a racket on the golf course. Schaffer keeps “The Ugly Section” zipping along, from the golf course to Tiato’s, where the restaurant manager tries his damnedest to keep Larry away from the windows and the beautiful people. Larry dwells on this realization for much of the episode, eventually coming to terms with knowing he has something else to offer other than good looks. Not charm or kindness, of course, but money (and its sibling, influence) and, when it comes to the restaurant seating, a bit of luck brought on by some bad burrata.

Larry’s preoccupation with restrooms continues tonight; early on, he shoos the attendant Harold (Adrian Martinez) from the Tiato’s men’s room with a lecture and a $20 tip. But like his alter ego, Larry learns his meddling has some far-reaching consequences: Kroll-Manager fires Harold for “leaving his post.” He’s given an opportunity to redeem himself and Harold, but Larry’s real journey is figuring out how he feels about not being one of the beautiful people. Through multiple meals at Tiato’s, Larry realizes he wasn’t exactly raising the average among his golf buddies Jeff, Richard Lewis, and Carl (Bobby Slayton). Even dining with a beautiful woman does little to change Larry’s standing in the eyes of Kroll-Manager, because, as he ruefully notes, “the tie goes to the ugly.” In an image-conscious city like Los Angeles, which is basically a VIP section of the country, Larry would have been confronted long ago with how he failed to measure up to conventional standards of beauty. But his talent and success created a different kind of bubble for him—just look at Cheryl Hines or any of the women he’s dated on the show—a bubble that’s burst by Kroll-Manager’s exacting ways. He admits here, as he has in the past, that he doesn’t mind if his money is the main source of someone’s attraction to him.

Larry’s not down for long, though, and neither is Carl’s widow Veronica, whose reputation precedes her. Before he died by suicide, Carl told Larry, Jeff, and Richard that Veronica has a “magical vagina,” which is like a “hummingbird nest” and has “a mind of its own.” It made their infrequent sex even more of a travesty, but as Veronica later tells Larry, they had already begun to live separate lives. His decision to pursue Veronica elicits disgust (Susie) and awe from his friends (Jeff, Richard, Ted Danson). Jeff sets a six-month moratorium on dates for Veronica, while Richard advises at least a year. But the widow has different plans—and they include Larry.

Jane Krakowski is in fine form tonight, despite not being given an opportunity to sing or vamp. Veronica wants to grieve in her own way, which means going out for dinners with friends instead of crying herself to sleep. She’d already resolved herself to the end of her marriage; she doesn’t see a need to endlessly beat her breast over Carl’s death. But when Veronica realizes that Larry wants to quibble over one of Carl’s bets—having learned that Richard used an illegal putter, he wants his and Jeff’s money back—she’s given a chance to scream her head off. Larry may have inadvertently helped her process her husband’s death. Could anyone from the pretty section of the restaurant say the same? That is, aside from Larry, who finds himself in the land of the lovely by episode’s end?

Botched date aside, Larry makes out pretty well tonight—he transcends restaurant policy, but even more satisfying is the reveal that Richard Lewis was cheating at his short game. And when he returns (yet again) to Tiato, he and his not-so-conventionally attractive dining companions—namely, Skyler Gisondo as Sam Winocur, M.D. (“My dad is a Doctor”)—prove themselves useful, regardless of their table location. The only thing missing is a speech from Larry, entreating Kroll-Manager to tear down that wall.


Stray observations

  • We’ve met multiple generations of the Funkhouser family, so it’s only fitting that “The Ugly Section” introduce the second generation of Drs. Winocur.
  • So, Larry was totally going to poop in the Tiato’s bathroom, right? That’s why he wanted privacy, despite his well-established thoughts on pooping in public restrooms?
  • I don’t know much about football, but pop culture has taught me that the New York Jets are not good at it. Or is that the Mets and baseball?
  • Leon continues to take his work at Latte Larry’s very seriously, which makes the inevitable implosion a little bit sadder.
  • Jeff describing Larry as “Einstein’s gardener” was my favorite burn of the night; I don’t know the word that Larry used to describe Susie, but unless it was “sequin-clad ray of light,” it’s not applicable.