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Published on August 1st, 2011 | by Mo Fathelbab


‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ Episode 8.4 Review – The Smiley Face

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Dating is hard. There are a couple hurdles one has to go through when entering the scene. The first is to be an appealing individual and by appealing, I mean you have to be someone the other person is willing to parade around town, to all of their friends (someone that said friends can approve of). The reason could be that you’re from a “desirable” background (whether or not you two are from the same race, creed, or ethnicity), or you’ve attained a certain social status, or you’re beyond good looking. It’s something that’s on the surface. The second hurdle is maintaining that appeal by having a somewhat pleasurable personality. You don’t have to be super sweat or nice but you can’t be a complete dick (at least not in public). This way your new significant other can justify to themselves that they’re dating you for “you” and not because of other, more superficial reasons.

Larry David has the money and the status of a Hollywood hotshot to date a woman as stunningly beautiful as Heidi (Rebecca Creskoff, Hung), which covers step one, but he doesn’t quite grasp the concept of step two. He’s Larry David. He’ll never be able to master step two. Whether it’s being a jerk to her niece who interrupted a makeout session, not expressing his condolences to her when she tells him of her father who passed away two years ago, or bugging her for the sixty dollars that he had lent her, something or another was going to end his very brief relationship with Heidi. (One has to assume that last week’s fling with the hot Palestinian restaurateur ended in disaster as well, and it was probably over a parking space or the way she answered her phone or something else that brought out Larry’s annoyed side, and not their ethnic differences.)

And like Shara, Heidi works at a restaurant. She is, in fact, the hostess at his favorite restaurant. He is literally “shitting where he eats”, as Richard Lewis puts it. Larry doesn’t think they’ll be an issue if and when he’ll break up with her. Why should it matter? He has a right to go anywhere he pleases, so the restaurant shouldn’t be off limits. (Of course, he’ll soon regret that decision, as she not only gets him back by putting sunscreen on his baldhead in the shape of a smiley face –- and not the rest of his head – she also spikes his food with something nauseating.)

If things aren’t going so great in the romance department for Larry, things are a messy back at the office. With his assistant Antoinette away visiting her dying father, Larry has to cope with a pushy new office mate (Harry Hamlin) who has practically hijacked the shared kitchen and missing important appointments, like a friendly lunch date with Richard. Larry doesn’t want to blame his own ineptitude so he blames his tardiness on his dermatologist (Michael Gross), telling Richard that the doctor made him wait 45 whole minutes before seeing him. Soon Richard cancels his upcoming appointment and urges others to leave the doctor because he’s become “one of those Beverly Hills” types (i.e. an arrogant jerk).

In the meantime, Jeff (Jeff Garlin) tries to get out of a dinner with an annoying couple by lying to them and saying that things aren’t going so well with Susie (Susie Essman). They infer that he’s having an affair (a false rumor that Larry inadvertently “confirms” through his weird inflection). Susie gets wind of the rumor, catches him consoling Antoinette’s mother, and then beats the living shit out of him. Basically, because Jeff used a jerk-like tactic with the couple in order to show how much of a jerk he wasn’t, it bites him in the ass in the end.

Now, how much can “being a jerk” just be the thread that connects the plots of a half-sitcom, let alone Curb Your Enthusiasm? I’m afraid not that much in this week’s episode, especially after the brilliant “Palestinian Chicken” episode. Maybe nothing could top the brilliance of last week’s outing. “The Smiley Face” was kind of a letdown. Don’t get me wrong, there were a couple of great set pieces: the argument with Hamlin was funny, as well as Larry going to Antoinette’s father’s funeral while with the smiley face that was suntanned to his forehead was a great visual gag. And a letdown of an episode is still a pretty, pretty good episode; better than most television sitcoms.

But still, they all can’t be winners.

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