After two episodes, the long-awaited ninth season of Larry David’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is finally start to shape its ultimate narrative. Little dignities, big hijinks, and Palestinian chicken aside, the HBO series lives and dies by the strength of its overall arc, a backbone that’s helped deliver such classic storylines as “that time Larry did Broadway” and “hey, Richard Lewis is dying.” This year, it’s all about the fatwa. And the “Fatwa!”
“Once we landed on the arc for the season, once we realized that we were going to do him writing a musical called ‘Fatwa!’ and then getting a fatwa for writing ‘Fatwa!,’ I saw where that should take the season,” producer and directer Jeff Schaffer recently told IndieWire.
When the season kicked off, it made short order in explaining just what the heck Larry has been up to for the past five years. Apparently, it all revolved around writing a musical about the real-life fatwa that was placed on Salman Rushdie after the publication of his controversial novel “The Satanic Verses.” The book is built on the conceit that the Islamic Prophet Muhammad interpreted the words as Satan as divine revelation and resulted in Rushdie being accused of blasphemy by Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who then issued a fatwa ordering fellow Muslims to kill Rushdie.
After the premiere, it wasn’t entirely clear if “Fatwa!” would still be cruising along, with Larry himself insulting the Ayatollah (on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”) and then getting his own fatwa. “Fatwa!” is indeed the centerpiece of this season, but Schaffer hints that there’s plenty more bad behavior and worse situations to come — and they’re also bundled up in that premiere episode.
“The season premiere sets up a lot of things overtly, like ‘Fatwa!,’ and it’s also setting up a few things subtly too,” he said. “You won’t notice at the time, when you’re just watching show one, but later as you watch shows two, three, four, five, you’re gonna go, ‘Oooh, that’s where that started.’ There’s a lot of sort of hidden setup, which makes it tricky.”
Even in just that first episode, “you have to be responsible for the whole season,” Schaffer added. (One thing to keep an eye on? Both Larry and Cheryl are now single…as is Ted Danson.)
But even if audiences manage to put together the multitude of pieces, Schaffer is adamant that the season finale is going to throw everyone for a huge loop.
“I think one of the things I’m most proud of about this season, is now knowing where it starts, which I think was a pretty surprise, you will still never expect where it ends,” Schaffer said. “I promise you that you will be very surprised at where we end up.”
“The season finale is really cool,” he added. Still, don’t bank on said fatwa actually killing Larry — after all, the cast is still holding out for more seasons.
Then again, maybe they’re lying to us, because everyone knows that a lie is gesture. It’s a courtesy. It’s a little respect!
“Curb Your Enthusiasm” Season 9 airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on HBO.