After the last few weeks of Curb Your Enthusiasm have mostly kept the creation of Larry David’s new show Young Larry on the back burner, “Man Fights Tiny Woman” gets the season-long arc right back on track. As we enter the back half of Season 11, Young Larry is now mostly cast with a team that Larry and Jeff (Jeff Garlin) are happy with, while the finishing touches are being put on the set. Things are going great for Young Larry, which in the world of Curb Your Enthusiasm only means future disaster.
While last week’s “IRASSHAIMASE!” and the previous week’s “The Watermelon” were both good episodes, they felt like episodes that for the most part could’ve been in any season. While “Man Fights Tiny Woman” can at times seem like Curb Your Enthusiasm setting up the pieces for where this season’s story will go in the second half, it does so with solid bits and great moments between Larry and other actors that make this episode shine.
But let’s start with what doesn’t work about “Man Fights Tiny Woman.” Larry and Jeff Schaffer build this episode mostly around Larry’s biases against who should and shouldn’t do certain jobs. When Larry and Jeff return from a trip to New York, Larry’s driver, Miriam Clubok (Iris Anthony), is a smaller woman who Larry doesn’t feel comfortable letting carry his luggage. After his complaints to the limo service fall on deaf ears, and his car gets towed, Larry eventually ends up taking multiple trips with Miriam throughout the episode, which leads to him looking like a jerk when he lets her carry his luggage, and later – as the title implies – gets Larry and Miriam in a fight over who gets to carry his luggage.
Also in the episode, Larry is getting his roof looked at, and when the roofer (Brad Grunberg) is a bit on the heavier side, Larry worries that he might actually make the roof worse. Neither of these stories are particularly all that funny on their own, and while the show isn’t mean-spirited about these arcs, they do feel like the series punching down in a way that it usually doesn’t. But at least these two stories do sort of set up two of the funniest moments in the episode, and the fight between Larry and his driver does seem like it could serve a larger purpose later on in the season.
Larry letting his driver carry his bags leads to one of the best cameos of the season, as Seth Rogen appears as himself as a potential guest star on Young Larry. Rogen doesn’t get hardly enough screen time in the episode, but he makes the most of his quick appearance. In his scene, Seth is both self-deprecating (“So you’re a smart person who’s trying to appear stupid so people will like you?”), while cutting to the core of Larry David (“And you’re a nice person appearing to be an asshole so no one likes you?”). Larry and Seth’s dynamic is fantastic, as Seth is trying to stop Larry from making rapid crazy comments at him, almost like the audience surrogate hoping that Larry will just stop doing the things that will only cause him trouble down the road. Season 11 has been relatively light on actors playing thinly-veiled versions of themselves, but Rogen does a fantastic job with a short but sweet cameo.
But if Season 11 has had a surprise MVP, it’s probably Vince Vaughn as Freddy Funkhouser. Especially in this season, Vaughn has become a part of Larry’s inner circle, just as ubiquitous in the show as Jeff. Yet while Jeff will usually let Larry’s actions slide right off him, Freddy Funkhouser is always ready to conflict with Larry’s ideas in hilarious ways. “Man Fights Tiny Woman” shows just how little Larry and Vince need to create a great scene together, as the two have a disagreement about Perrier that builds and builds in absurdity. We’ve seen these types of mundane arguments between Larry and Freddy before, but every time they get a moment together, the results are gold.
Yet the best story in “Man Fights Tiny Woman” melds the process of making Young Larry with Larry’s flair for heightening uncomfortable situations. Larry visits a chiropractor (Josh Gad) who has a surprisingly empty office, and Larry discovers the doctor has scared away his patients due to his disgustingly ratty underwear. Even though it’s a stretch, this story ties in nicely with the appearance of Young Larry actor Jason (Zach Reino), who is a Jew for Jesus that is causing problems on the set. Reino is a gifted improviser, so naturally, his ability to turn any conversation into one about religion is the perfect type of cringe for this series. Similarly, Gad is quite good in his embarrassing role, and just seeing the repulsively ancient underwear is enough to make this one of the more memorable scenarios of this season.
While the last few episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm have been enjoyable, “Man Fights Tiny Woman” feels like the season getting back on track with delightfully awkward situations and a stronger focus on the season’s arc. With Young Larry seemingly almost ready to go, the backend of Season 11 seems on the right track to wrap up this story with some great cringe-worthy moments that Curb Your Enthusiasm always does beautifully.