Which Season of Curb Your Enthusiasm is the Best?

Two of our favorite things here at NPI are comedy and Larry David. Naturally, then, we love Curb Your Enthusiasm. In fact, we love it so much that it’s hard to pick a favorite season. But that didn’t stop us from trying. In the first part of a two-post prelude to the start of Season Seven (which we are stoked for), John S, Josh, and F.P each offered their own rankings to provide one of NPI’s patented* rankings. Now, these rankings proved difficult (some odd methodologies were used) since there really are no bad seasons of Curb; as proof, we each included our favorite episode from every season. At the end of the list, we each offered a brief justification for our choices, though we were all satisfied with the overall outcome.  

*Unfortunately, this is a lie. We have no patent on rankings…..yet.

Without further ado, our rankings of Curb Your Enthusiasm seasons:

6. Season Five

Larry David Sandwich

John’s Rank: 3rd Favorite Episode: “The Ski Lift”

-Possibly my favorite episode of the series, just for seeing Larry David do an impression of a Hasidic Jew.

Josh’s Rank: 5th Favorite Episode:  “The Christ Nail”

-I’m biased towards episodes that have great endings and Larry’s taking the Christ Nail off his father-in-law’s neck to hang up the mezuzah is quite the hilarious ending.

F.P.’s Rank: 6th Favorite Episode:  “The Seder”

-This episode features Rob Corddry at perhaps his second-best (see David Wain’s The Ten), and Larry’s hilariously defended decision to invite a sex offender over for Seder (“Cheryl, what would Jesus do?”) perfectly exemplifies his misguided attempts at decency and self-righteousness. 

 

5. Season One

the group

John’s Rank:  4th Favorite Episode: “The Group”

-Watching Larry make up a story of sexual abuse is one of the funniest scenes in the series.

Josh’s Rank: 4th Favorite Episode: “The Group”

-The incest survivor group scene definitely makes this episode, but Larry’s dialogue with Cheryl on why he doesn’t initiate sex is very funny as well.

F.P.’s Rank: 4th Favorite Episode: “The Group”

-Clearly we have a consensus here. 

 

4. Season Two

I steal forks

John’s Rank: 2nd Favorite Episode: “The Doll”

-Larry shoving a doll’s head down his pants is a little close to ridiculous, but it also leads to some of the best laughs of the series.

Josh’s Rank: 3rd Favorite Episode: “The Baptism”

-Larry’s mistaking of a baptism for a malicious drowning and the ensuing scene are certainly competitive with some of the scenes from “The Doll.”

F.P.’s Rank: 5th Favorite Episode: “Shaq”

-Larry’s performance at Starbucks is classic, and his disdain for all the hype about coffee is one of his most sympathetic misgivings.

 

3. Season Four

 LD ProducersJohn’s Rank: 1st Favorite Episode: “The Survivor”

-For many reasons, I find the idea of a reality show contestant and a Holocaust survivor arguing over who had it rougher to be one of the best concepts Larry ever came up with.

Josh’s Rank: 6th Favorite Episode: “The Survivor”

-I’m fully on board with John here. This encounter definitely merits a watch.

F.P.’s Rank: 3rd Favorite Episode: “The Blind Date”

-I’m not a Jew, so “The Survivor” didn’t speak to me nearly as much, although it was great. I picked “The Blind Date” because I think Jeff’s funniest moment in the series is his casual, shameless, and ill-advised admission that he fantasizes about Cheryl.  

 

2. Season Three

Krazee Eyez KillaJohn’s Rank: 6th Favorite Episode: “The Grand Opening”

-This was the first episode of the show I ever saw, and it also has one of the best endings.

Josh’s Rank: 1st Favorite Episode: “The Grand Opening”

-This is probably my favorite episode of the entire series. Everything—the chef’s problematic Tourette’s syndrome, Cheryl’s tension with Susie, Larry’s desire to do something noble—comes together in the hilarious final scene, which also features improvisation at its best. 

F.P.’s Rank: 2nd Favorite Episode: “The Grand Opening”

-You know, going third is really making me look bad. But they’re right. 

 

1. Season Six

The BlacksJohn’s Rank: 5th Favorite Episode: “The Anonymous Donor”

-I just appreciate Larry taking down the “faux anonymity” of anonymous donations.

Josh’s Rank: 2nd Favorite Episode: “The Anonymous Donor”

-All of the story lines in this episode are top notch: The mysterious semen stain and the Joe Pepitone lost jersey really jumpstart the funny dynamic between the Blacks and the Davids.

F.P.’s Rank: 1st Favorite Episode: “The TiVo Guy”

-Forgive me if my selection is a cliché, but Kevin Heffernan as the TiVo guy is absolutely hilarious (he steals the scene), the “choosing sides” concept is great, and Larry’s amazement at his ability to pick up Lucy Lawless is classic.  

 

Now for some general analysis on the entire rankings:

John’s Take:

My rankings were the most divergent from the final rankings, but I can’t really say I’m unhappy; the show hasn’t had a bad season. I have a slight problem with Season Six being #1 since I feel it is slightly overrated, but it’s still great. I do think Season Four stands out for a lot of reasons: We get to see Larry hit on women—which we got some of towards the end of Season Six—and two memorable extended celebrity guests in Ben Stiller and David Schwimmer. A lot of fans didn’t like them, but I thought they were each great foils for Larry—I particularly enjoyed Stiller’s complaints about Larry’s refusal to sing “Happy Birthday” and his lack of commitment to The Producers (“It certainly does look like less effort”). Season Four also has some classic episodes (“Opening Night,” “The Survivor,” and “The Weatherman” among others) not to mention one that saved someone’s life. I’m also surprised Josh and Jake were so unkind to Season Five, which didn’t have a great overall arc, but had some pretty classic episodes as well. “The Ski Lift” and “The End”—the latter featuring Larry David in Heaven—are two of my favorite episodes of the series.

Josh’s Take:

I’m happy with the final rankings: My personal top two are the top two in the aggregated rankings and, like John, I don’t dislike any season. One other note: Even though there generally is an overall arc to each season, I largely think of Curb in terms of episodes. Rarely will I go into an episode eager to know what happens based on the last episode.  This made it very difficult to do a ranking of seasons, and many of my adjacent rankings could have easily been switched. Nonetheless, I do disagree with John and think Season Four is ranked a bit high: Ben Stiller and David Schwimmer were a bit annoying to me as foils (I know that’s the intent, but it still made my viewing experience a little unpleasant), and I think “The Car Pool Lane” and “Opening Night” are two of the weaker episodes. “The Grand Opening” is to Season 3 as “A Day in the Life” is to “Sgt. Pepper’s”: The season is very good independently of the episode, but it’s made excellent by “The Grand Opening,” which has the best ending of any Curb episode (as I said, earlier, I am quite biased by endings where everything comes together.) 

F.P.’s Take:

I’m happy with the rankings, as my personal rankings were almost identical to the collective ones. I think Season Five belongs at the bottom because it’s at times very surreal and/or absurd (“The End”), and the series doesn’t seem to generally lend itself to that type of thing. Season Six is great because the casting is truly superb, which has given me great hopes for Season Seven. Season Six is also admittedly much more extreme in some ways; the idea of Larry ending up as the surrogate father in a black family seems to be a far cry from Season One. However, I think that the show’s relative longevity allows it to extend itself a bit further. My hope is that Larry David won’t spend Season Seven trying to top the absurdity of Season Six.

4 responses to this post.

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  3. […] Which raises the question: Has Jerry Seinfeld lost his gauge for what is funny? It’s worth pointing out that Seinfeld has now been off the air for almost a dozen years, and in that time Jerry Seinfeld’s main achievements have been Bee Movie (51% on Rotten Tomatoes) and a series of expensive Microsoft ads that were so perplexing they were almost immediately pulled from the air. Meanwhile, his co-creator has turned in another classic, groundbreaking series. […]

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  4. […] of his Summer Mega-Mailbag, Bill Simmons ranks the best comedians for every year since 1975. Simmons vindicates Josh by claiming that Season 3 of Curb Your Enthusiasm was his favorite. Meanwhile, Sean McCarthy, on […]

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