Season nine of Curb Your Enthusiasm picks up six years after Larry's escape to Paris following a fight with Michael J. Fox.
Now, Larry is back in Los Angeles and planning a move to New York for a new Broadway show focusing on the Ayatollah, a high-ranking religious leader in Iran. That is, until he manages to take things one insult too far and fuck up everything.
In the season opener, Larry is back to doing what he does best: offending strangers. Larry learns that he's pissed off his friend's hairstylist and attempts to fix the problem by hiring the woman for a trim. However, Larry manages to derail her wedding and anger her partner by remarking that he sees the hairstylist as "more of a groom than a bride." As with all seasons, Larry's attempt to solve his problems backfires, and in the end, he's forced to run away from an angry lesbian at a restaurant.
While the storyline resembles classic Larry David comedy, the narrative comes off as more offensive than funny. Six years later after the previous season, a lot has changed in what classifies as acceptable in the realm of comedy. In a society functioning off of political correctness, David's offensive humor regarding lesbian relationships can come off as insulting.
In another storyline, Larry attempts to dispose of his lazy assistant, deemed un-fireable due to her disabilities and history of sexual abuse. Ultimately, Larry pushes the assistant onto his friend.
While David poked fun at sexual abuse in season eight when he offended a group of battered women at the grocery store, this season's joke comes off as dated. It's not just that the concept is insulting to individuals with disabilities; in his limited ten-episode season, David should be confronting new topics of conversation rather than a problem he's already discussed.
The episode also goes awry after Larry receives a fatwa for mimicking and impersonating the Ayatollah on Jimmy Kimmel. Yes, it's funny, but totally unrelatable and utterly ridiculous. In many ways the story arc seems last-minute, created because the show is running out of material. The beauty of Larry David is his ability to comedically approach all the small things that go wrong in life. For example, cup marks on tables, arguments in the grocery aisle and line cutting. However, David's Ayatollah joke loses the viewer's attention and seems more desperate than funny.
Even though Larry is losing his charm, there are still moments that make the show worth watching, especially when David breaks from the Ayatollah storyline in the second and third episodes. For example, Larry helps a prostitute "refine" her style. In addition, Larry argues with a hotel concierge for passing off Pepperidge Farm cookies as home baked, while a fight over a pickle jar ends with a broken arm.
Despite these few charming moments, the season fails to provide the same laughter David provided in previous ones. Throughout its HBO run, both Curb and David have been praised for their social commentary and comedic approach to real issues. However, Larry and the Ayatollah deviates from relatability. Furthermore, the definition of acceptable humor has changed, and Larry has not changed with it. The new season proves that maybe it's time for Larry David to curb his enthusiasm.