The last time Curb Your Enthusiasm aired a new episode—which, by the way, made light of Michael J. Fox's Parkinson's and featured a kid enamored by swastikas—the internet was a different place. In September of 2011, there were recaps, but recap culture was yet to be born, and overall the relationship between a show and its critics was remarkably benign. When that season eight finale of Curb, "Larry Vs. Michael J. Fox," aired, no one wrote about how INSENSITIVE and PROBLEMATIC it was for David to depict Fox as using his disease for selfish reasons. J.B. Smoove's Leon even had a line about how Fox might be better at fighting because of his Parkinson's—"That shaking shit might come in handy! I don't even fucking know!"—and everyone just laughed and moved on.
And when it came to Greg, the gay seven-year-old with anti-semitic leanings ("Get a life, Jews!"), there were no articles to be found about how Larry David is murdering America's youth—most headlines read, "Meet Greg, Your New Favorite Curb Your Enthusiasm Character." In the eight seasons of Curb Your Enthusiasm, the closest Larry David ever came to controversy was when conservative Catholics got angry at him for uncontrollably peeing on a picture of Jesus.
You know where I'm going with this: 2011 was super chill, and 2016 is a shitstorm of oversensitivity and manufactured outrage. They went after Amy Schumer for jokes she made about having sex with Latinos; they called Blake Lively racist for quoting Sir Mix-A-Lot; they took a deep dive into Trevor Noah's Twitter account in 2015 to crucify him for bad jokes he made half a decade earlier. Even Jerry Seinfeld took a hit when he bemoaned this very movement, arguing that the stand-up comedy has been hurt by a fear of offending someone. Even if Larry David gets more of a pass than most, rest assured that when he brings Curb Your Enthusiasm back for a ninth season (please tell me it'll be ready to air in 2017), BIG TAEK will be sitting at their laptops, foaming at the mouth.
And Larry David won't give a shit.
That's Larry David's thing—haven't you seen his shoes? The man behind Seinfeld, the show that aired "The Cigar Store Indian," has a knack for stepping on hot button topics and gleefully turning his heel. And often, on Curb especially, while other characters lose their minds over some injustice David has committed, his response boils down to, "Meh." If you chastise him for whistling Wagner, he won't apologize—he'll hire an orchestra to play "Siegfried Idyll" on your front lawn.
The real-life David isn't an exact replica of the character he plays on Curb, but this trait is one thing they definitely share. In a 2015 New York profile of David, writer Benjamin Wallace explains how David used to fight with the audience when he did stand-up in the '80s. Wallace writes:
He wouldn’t engage in the ingratiating stand-up boilerplate of “How’s everybody doing tonight?” He didn’t care how they were doing. He would get in fights with the crowd and storm off before his act was over. Once, preempted at the last minute by Rodney Dangerfield, who told the crowd that “Larry David” sounded like “a fag hairdresser,” David went on afterward, saw that the crowd was inattentive, said “Fuck you, you people are too stupid,” and walked off.
Imagine how he'd feel about someone at Salon (or, you know, here). David is stubborn and unapologetic. If he wasn't, Seinfeld never would have aired the legendary Chinese restaurant episode. And Curb Your Enthusiasm wouldn't be the unassailable comedy it is.
If Seinfeld was about zero narrative, Curb Your Enthusiasm is about zero character growth. Though the Larry David in Curb has experienced life-changing events—nearly drowning to death in the season five premiere, separating from his wife Cheryl—his life never actually changes. The "new Larry," without fail, always devolves into the same, squabbling, controversial asshole. If you think he's going to hold back on making affirmative action jokes because the world has become more "woke," you haven't been paying attention for the last two-plus decades.
In season nine, there will undoubtedly be a new "Palestinian Chicken," something that makes Brian Kilmeade shit his pants on Fox & Friends. It will trend on Facebook and Twitter, and people will call for David to revoke his citizenship or apologize to the plushy community. All Monday afternoon we'll wonder why David hasn't responded to the outrage. And he never will. Monday will turn into Tuesday, Tuesday into Wednesday. Then it'll be Sunday night, and a new episode of Curb will air, creating a new controversy of its own. And David won't respond to that either.
I can't wait.