By John Sellers
NEW YORK (TheWrap) – “Curb Your Enthusiasm” episodes always contain moments that would surely lead to substantial uproar if stripped entirely of context.
The “did they really just go there?” element that Larry David’s HBO sitcom thrives on may reach its pinnacle with Sunday’s episode, “The Palestinian Chicken.” It should remind everyone disappointed by the eighth season’s initial two middling installments why “Curb” can still go toe-to-toe with the funniest shows on television.
Take, for instance, the following exchange, and imagine it being said by, say, two guests on “Nightline,” or by co-workers at your office:
“I like you,” says an Arab woman, flirting with a balding older man with a New York accent.
“What’s not to like?” he replies.
“Eh, you’re a Jew.”
Now put that in the context of an exchange between Larry David and a scorchingly hot, though extremely anti-Semitic, purveyor of addictive rotisserie chicken, and you have a stellar comedic moment.
Watch an Invitation to the Set:
The episode revolves around the restaurant’s plan to open a second location next to a legendary Jewish deli, an obvious riff on the controversy surrounding plans for a mosque near the 9/11 memorial in New York City.
Larry’s friends vehemently oppose the expansion — well, except Jeff, who says the restaurant’s delicious chicken should be sent to Israel to expedite the peace process.
And Larry so enjoys the succulent poultry that he has no qualms about making the moves on Shara (Anne Bedian), the politically obstinate owner of the restaurant.
What pushes “The Palestinian Chicken” beyond obvious satire of the 9/11 mosque controversy and makes the episode one of the series’ finest, though, are the many “Seinfeld“-ian bits that have nothing to do with Arab-Israeli relations — such as Larry not physically restraining a friend’s wife who has recently lost a significant amount of weight from eating a dessert because she’d asked him to prevent her from indulging “no matter what.”
The episode also introduces the hilarious concepts of “verbal texting,” being a “social assassin” and “Koufaxing,” but like most top-tier “Curb Your Enthusiasm” moments, those catchphrases are best left out of context for viewers to discover on their own.