Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 11 premiere recap – “The Five-Foot Fence” the other side of the fence

October 25, 2021
Jonathon Wilson 0
HBO, Weekly TV
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Summary

“The Five-Foot Fence” puts Larry through the wringer in a post-pandemic premiere that suggests age might be getting to him — among other things.

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4

Summary

“The Five-Foot Fence” puts Larry through the wringer in a post-pandemic premiere that suggests age might be getting to him — among other things.

This recap of the Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 11 premiere, “The Five-Foot Fence”, contains spoilers.


The point of Larry David – or at least the version of him in Curb Your Enthusiasm – is that he says out loud the things you’re probably thinking. He’s a dick, of course, which is why you don’t say the things he does; you imagine a world in which you might, and then use Larry David to gauge how it’d go. Judging by the Curb Your Enthusiasm season 11 premiere, “The Five-Foot Fence”, it not only wouldn’t go well, but it’d only get worse the more you did it.

Curb Your Enthusiasm season 11, episode 1 recap

Putting Larry through the wringer is the point of this show since it’s funny to see how Larry reacts to various misfortunes. But now he’s getting older – although he never seems to age – the piling calamities that befall him are not only worsening but might, at least as far as his friends and associates are concerned, be indicative of him losing his faculties. There’s a minor subplot in this episode in which John Pirruccello’s local jeweler Dennis Zweibel has developed the early stages of dementia, so when Larry chases him for $6000 he floated for a golf trip that Dennis never paid back, it seems like he’s picking on someone who’s compromised. The joke becomes, though, that Larry himself seems compromised.

Curb Your Enthusiasm shouldn’t be funny – no show about someone rich enough to wait six months to call in a six grand loan should be funny. But somehow the “rich people problems” that befall Larry David are always hysterical. The eponymous one in “The Five-Foot Fence” is that Larry wakes up in the middle of the night to find a would-be burglar dead, face-down in his pool, and the fact his fenceless property doesn’t meet Santa Monica’s building mandates opens him up to extortion from the deceased’s brother Marcus (Marques Ray), who blackmails Larry into casting his daughter Maria Sofia (Keyla Monterroso Mejia) as a Jewish ballerina in the new show about his early life that he’s pitching to Netflix. Again, no show in which a man can waltz into Netflix’s offices and successfully pitch a show about himself should be funny. But Young Larry, a semi-autobiographical comedy series in which a twenty-something Larry David moves in with and tries to kill his rich uncle while beginning his comedy career, seemed as potentially brilliant to me as it did to fictional Netflix executive Don Winston Jr. (Reid Scott).

The way this all comes together is predictable, if satisfying, but the bulk of “The Five-Foot Fence” is devoted to furthering the idea that Larry is losing it. When Susie “plops” down on Mary Ferguson’s (Ashli Auguillard) couch, causing Larry to spill red wine on it, there’s a bit of debate about whether she “plopped” at all. Immediately after, Larry walks face-first into a glass door, prompting his new girlfriend, Lucy Liu, to no longer think of him in a sexual way. Maybe, as Leon suggests, Larry is becoming “feeble”. (Leon also, hilariously, auditions for a new Mary Ferguson to join him on an already-booked trip to Asia when she does the same thing. You just can’t look at a person the same way after they walk into a glass door.)

There seems to be something intentional about how “The Five-Foot Fence” juxtaposes Larry’s moments of competency – Netflix eat up his show pitch; his relentless mocking of Albert Brooks for hosting his own funeral despite everyone knowing he’s alive upstairs goes down brilliantly with the assembled mourners – with his social blunders. We know he’s in the right here. We know Dennis is trying to avoid paying up, that Susie plopped, that anyone could walk into a glass door. For the first time, Curb is engendering sympathy for Larry David – and it’s working.

Of course, the show now exists in a post-pandemic world, so that has to factor in somehow, and it makes for one of the premiere’s best gags when Larry accidentally stumbles on a closet in Albert Brooks’s house full of an entire COVID supply hoard, including more toilet paper and hand sanitizer than anyone could use. It’s funny because nobody – except Larry, anyway – is particularly weirded out by a man being so arrogant that he doesn’t want to miss the nice things people say about him at his own funeral, but being a hoarder is simply a step too far. Even Jon Hamm, who has totally bought into the funeral conceit, rages about how first responders could have used the contents of Albert’s closet to save lives. Even in an episode that joyfully tortures Larry all throughout, at least he’s not the worst of the worst. Not yet, anyway.

You can stream Curb Your Enthusiasm season 11, episode 1, “The Five-Foot Fence”, exclusively on HBO.

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