'Curb Your Enthusiasm' Returns With Shame for the COVID Hoarders

Larry continues to live by his own set of rules, but sometimes he's spot on.

curb your enthusiasm, larry david
HBO

Watching TV right now, you'd be hard pressed to find any evidence that COVID exists. Last year there were some nods to mask wearing on network dramas, but in the premium cable world, the pandemic seemed to have never happened. On Succession, there is sound reasoning behind the exclusion; rich people, like the Roys, didn't experience the last couple of years in the same way as the rest of us. And then there's Curb Your Enthusiasm, which returned on HBO in glorious form last night.

When Curb ended its 10th season, just as the world was going into lockdown, Larry David's anxieties seemed not just annoying but prescient. Hell, he put Purell on every table at Latte Larry's, which is now de rigueur at coffee shops. Now (miraculously) in its 11th season, David has decided not to worry about mask usage on camera, but still acknowledges COVID persisting. Instead, as we had hoped, Larry is tackling the social mores that still hover on the edge of our lives because of the virus.

And here's the thing: Larry hates COVID hoarders. One would think because of his love of hand sanitizer, Larry David might have been one of the people in March 2020 who was stocking up with unnecessary excess. But no, that's not the ethos of Larry. For as much as Larry seems like a pretty self-centered guy—and he is—he also believes in fairness, or whatever fairness means according to his very personal moral code.

curb your enthusiasm, jon hamm, jeff garlin, susie essman, jb smoove
HBO

Take, for instance, another plotline in this episode. Larry spots one of his golf buddies at the Brentwood Country Mart and remembers that the man hasn't paid him the $6,000 he owes for a trip. He decides to bring up the matter, and gets berated. But, frankly, you have to side with Larry on this one. When is it an appropriate time to bring up that someone owes you money? Never. But that doesn't excuse not paying.

As with most Curb premieres, "The Five-Foot Fence" introduces a couple of plotlines that will continue through the season. Larry's home is burgled but the burglar drowns in Larry's pool because Larry didn't put up the fence that is required by Santa Monica law. The brother of the criminal then tries to extort Larry, demanding that Larry cast his daughter in a Netflix pilot. On that note, Veep's Reid Scott plays an executive named "Don Jr.," and the big game hunting photo in his office will likely become relevant as Larry continues developing this series called Young Larry. Leon is auditioning new girlfriends so he can take a planned trip to Asia; Larry and Susie have a whole battle over who "plopped" on a couch.

But the COVID hoarding situation comes to a head at Albert Brooks' fake funeral. The legendary comedian and filmmaker Albert Brooks—interestingly enough playing himself and not a relative of Marty Funkhouser, who was portrayed by his real-life brother Bob Einstein—throws himself a memorial service while he's still alive to reap the benefits of the goodwill to the dead. Except, while Jon Hamm is doing his best job throwing out Yiddish phrases, Larry goes looking for the bathroom and stumbles upon Brooks' COVID hoarding closet full of toilet paper and hand sanitizer. The whole room turns against the man they are supposed to be celebrating. Susie goes off. Even Hamm calls him a "shanda." (Good work on the Yiddish, Hamm.)

It's an ingenious Larry David way to address the elephant in the room. Larry interferes with other people's lives but only so they don't interfere with his. Personal hygiene is good. Keeping others from having access to personal hygiene is bad, in part because that means they might interact with Larry who just wants to be left alone. It all makes perfect sense in his brilliantly warped way.

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Esther Zuckerman is a senior entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @ezwrites.