“Angel Muffin” feels like classic Curb, sometimes to its detriment, but the potential of this latest season can still be felt.
This recap of Curb Your Enthusiasm season 11, episode 2, “Angel Muffin”, contains spoilers.
In my recap of last week’s premiere, I mentioned how a show in which somehow easily gets a show about their life greenlit by Netflix shouldn’t be funny. “Angel Muffin” is a nice reminder of why Curb Your Enthusiasm is always funny even in spite of these things – because you can always rely on Larry to ruin things for himself. He’s positioned just right. He’s already successful. He might want to work with Netflix, but he doesn’t need to if the executives do enough to annoy him. And, since everyone annoys Larry, much like Larry annoys everyone, it’s virtually a guarantee that nothing in his life is going to go all that smoothly.
Curb Your Enthusiasm season 11, episode 2 recap
This, obviously, is why Curb is so funny – one of the reasons, anyway. It’s also written in such a way that what seem like improvised throwaway lines, such as an argument about the merits of old towels versus new ones, end up looping back around and factoring into the plot in sometimes crucial ways. So, it’s funny, but it’s also an exercise in seeing which random elements and arguments will come together to undo Larry this time, and in precisely what way.
For me, at least, this process never stops being amusing, even if it does succumb to formula. This week’s celebrity guest star is a great, game Dylan O’Brien, playing a dog-loving version of himself who’s pegged to star as young Larry in Netflix’s Young Larry. So high is the streaming giant on him, in fact, that they’re fairly adamant about his involvement, meaning that once Larry offends him, he has to crawl back to try and make amends by enlisting the services of Mary Ferguson #2’s dog, the titular Angel Muffin, and of course it all goes disastrously wrong.
This isn’t Curb at its best, but it’s a good example of why the show really works at its best. The pieces don’t clip as neatly together as they could, and the payoff for the various plot strands isn’t quite as significant because of that. But Larry torpedoing his relationship with Netflix so early was unexpected, allowing for a great double-meaning rant in the direction of “Don Jr.” and plenty of intriguing problems for him going forward once Maria Sofia figures out she doesn’t quite have the high-profile streaming role she thought she had.
Again, it’s not new, and is a bit formulaic, but “Angel Muffin” still nailed the notes. Dylan O’Brien was great here, I thought, and Larry sinking his deal almost entirely because of how fussy he is about toilets is at least in character, even if it is ridiculous. There are also so many additional threads left dangling for the rest of the season – Jeff being blackmailed by a dentist’s assistant he impregnated behind Susie’s back, Larry being blackmailed by Marcus, Leon trying to secure a Mary Ferguson for long enough to make good on his pre-booked Asia trip, the five-foot fence, and so on, and so forth – that it’s hard not to be at least interested in where it’s all going. Hopefully, we’ll never be able to guess.
You can catch Curb Your Enthusiasm season 11, episode 2, “Angel Muffin”, on HBO.