Is ‘Curb’ About To Pull Off The Mother Of All ‘Seinfeld’ Tributes Or Is This An Epic Misdirect?

There is a long way between now and the end of Curb Your Enthusiasm, but last week’s episode begs the question: is Larry David about to go all in with a Seinfeld tribute in the final season of his iconic comedy or is he just screwing with us?

Spoilers for anyone who didn’t watch the last episode or for anyone who hates theories like this that could possibly be spoilery for things that haven’t happened yet, but… If you did watch, you know that the episode picked up where the season 12 premiere ended – with Larry posing for a mugshot that’s identical to that of former President Donald Trump. Well, now Larry is navigating both the Georgia criminal justice system and life as an accidental political hero, reluctantly pleading guilty for handing out a bottle of water to Auntie Rae while she was waiting on line to vote in the Atlanta heat.

With a court date looming, the question is what does all of this mean for the show, week to week?

The trial will, of course, have to be dealt with at some point, but is it going to be the main focus of this final season? Curb has carried themes over from episode to episode before, but full-on story arcs are a little less frequent. The Producers arc, Mocha Joe war, and the Seinfeld reunion arc being obvious exceptions.

Let’s linger on that Seinfeld connection for a moment, because there are clear breadcrumbs.

Think back a couple of months to when Jerry Seinfeld teased some vague revisitation of the finale of that iconic comedy. You know, the episode that a lot of people hated on (myself included, though I’ve softened some). In that episode, which David wrote (after being away from the show for the bulk of two seasons), the Seinfeld core four get thrown off course as Jerry is about to fly off to LA to reignite talk of a sitcom. Instead, however, they land in Massachusetts and get caught doing nothing while a man is held up. There’s also a recording of them making fun of the victim. This sets up a trial that doubles as an excuse for the show to bring back dozens of familiar guest stars to testify to the wickedness of Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer, damning them to a guilty verdict and time in jail where they almost certainly learned nothing from the experience.

Learning was actually forbidden on the show about nothing. Part of a mantra that also outlawed touchy-feely hugging. But no one ever said anything about consequences, and David, for one, has spoken fondly of the finale, saying it was “clever” to bring past characters back to testify. He said this during an appearance on Bill Simmons’ podcast in 2014 where he also said, “I got so much grief from the Seinfeld finale, which a lot of people intensely disliked, that I no longer feel a need to wrap things up,” referring to Curb with that last part. He said that a decade ago, but keep that thought handy.

Listen, Larry David closing his show by doing some big direct retake of the dynamics of the Seinfeld finale has some obvious benefits, creating space for a bunch of great character moments for everyone his character tortured across 12 seasons with his various quirks and psychoses. But as a finale, doesn’t that feel a little too obvious and a little too match made in pundit heaven?

There are also 8 episodes left. Can you imagine the fervor if we were watching them choreograph this big TV moment for the next couple of months? It’s the kind of big TV finale that David seemingly has no taste for. I also don’t think the Seinfeld dynamic works the same for David’s character.

On Seinfeld, these characters mostly lived in a vacuum, inflicting annoyance and psychological pain on the people they dated or otherwise interacted with without a lot of reflection or even self-awareness. Those people’s frustrations were rarely a factor in the story. With David, the torment and annoyance level of the people around him is constantly played for laughs. At times, Larry luxuriates in being a prick. He just can’t help himself. It’s kinda the point of the show. So if you make Curb end like Seinfeld in this epic attempt at a payoff, it’s going to feel kind of anti-climactic. What could Susie say on the stand that she hasn’t screamed in Larry’s face countless times?

No, I think we’re going to get a modified salute to the Seinfeld finale (maybe even with some of that show’s cast), but I don’t think we’re going to have to wait long and I don’t think it’ll be the defining moment of this season, much less this show. If anything, it’s highest purpose may be for any slights or stories that spin off from it leading toward the real end game. As for what that will be, your guess is as good as mine, but 12 seasons in, I think it’s safe to say that it’ll be pretty, pretty, pretty… oh, you know.