Curb Your Enthusiasm: Making a Splash

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Photo: Courtesy of HBO
Episode Title
The Bare Midriff
Season
7
Episode
6

The Seinfeld reunion plotline returns, though strangely, almost only in passing. We learn that Meg Ryan has dropped out of contention for the role of George’s ex-wife — the part that Larry has promised to Cheryl — Julia Louis-Dreyfus has some mentally disturbed friends, and Larry is literally writing the “Cheryl calls from a plane that may be crashing and Larry is just worried about the TiVo” scenario that caused his divorce. (Given that Larry wrote his real-life divorce into Curb, and that he’s now writing the fictional divorce into the show-within-a-show, we are at new and confusing levels of meta.) But mostly, this is an ordinary episode that happens to begin with Seinfeld and David talking like Jerry and George used to, yakking about senselessness: another show about nothing, but punctuated by outrageous moments!

3. The midriff riff. Jerry and Larry apparently have their own office now. Inside, they bat around ideas and their assistant Maureen, hired as a favor to Julia Louis-Dreyfus, insists on wearing a belly shirt. This probably wouldn’t bother the boys if her midriff were a flat one, but it isn’t. So Larry has a talk with her — Jerry says he’s too “white gloves” to get into it, which would probably be among the most honest things Jerry Seinfeld has ever said about himself — and she’s so offended (and, frankly, batty) that she quits. When Julia gets angry about this and convinces Larry that Maureen’s mother will kill herself if her daughter doesn’t get her job back (hmmm), Larry drops in on the unbalanced family.

2. The new adventures of old Larry. After Larry grovels and gets Maureen to return to her job, her mother pops in and discovers that Larry looks exactly like her ex-husband. And so we get a flashback to 1962, on their wedding day, with Larry wearing a fedora and smoking while bobby-soxer music plays on the stereo. (The scene is almost a direct homage to Mad Men.) The husband ends up being murdered by an angry motorist after a honking incident. Present-day Larry sees a picture of the man, disagrees that they look similar, and heads to the restroom.

1. Splash down. Because of a new “pill” he’s been taking, Larry’s having a particularly extreme “flow” — one so violent that it splashes onto a painting of Jesus, forming a sort of teardrop. Maureen and her mother, who are apparently as stupid as they are insane, believe it’s a miracle (“I think every erection is a miracle,” Larry offers) and Maureen quits to “spread the word.” The episode derails at this point. The best episodes have contrived but seamless plots, clicking in from one part to the next with effortless precision. Here, the seams show. By the time Larry finds himself hanging off a roof, gripping Maureen’s flab, you’re ready for Jerry to return, thanks very much.