Culture

Larry David Gets Season-Long Fatwa in 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' Return

Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 9 Premiere - NYC

The long-anticipated return of HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm on Sunday night — episode spoilers ahead — was the start of the Season of the Fatwa.

David, who earned an Emmy nomination for his campaign-season portrayal of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Saturday Night Live, delivered a 9th season premiere of his HBO show full of politically incorrect jokes, including trying to foist his disabled assistant, who was foisted on him by Jimmy Kimmel, on another.

In another storyline, David argues with a lesbian about whether he’s required to hold the door for her because she’s so butch-looking, and then later argues that she should be the groom at her lesbian wedding instead of the bride — which sparks a big lesbian engagement fight and the more feminine of the pair, who wants to be the groom, hunting down David.

But in an unexpected gag during the season opener, Larry David came under a fatwa from the Islamic Republic.

It started when David was pitching “Fatwa! The Musical!” — about the sentence levied on Salman Rushdie for penning The Satanic Verses — and Broadway investors were taking the bite. David goes on Jimmy Kimmel, where he unleashes the ayatollah jokes — “If you look at the history of ayatollahs, it all seems like one person… Khomeini, Khamenei,” ayatollah as Uber driver, imitating and mocking the ayatollah’s speech — and Iran responds by issuing a fatwa for the death of Larry David.

David learns there’s no way he can get un-fatwa’d, while his associates just want to get reassured that there’s no fatwa-by-association. He dons a disguise to meet Richard Lewis at a restaurant, where someone storms in shouting Larry’s name as his car was seen outside. “Fatwa?” asks Lewis. “No, lesbian bride,” David replies, crawling out of the restaurant to avoid the angry woman.

And in the teaser for the second episode, where he’s trying to relocate for fatwa safety, David mocks what the ayatollah’s breath must smell like:

Executive producer Jeff Schaffer told The Hollywood Reporter that the fatwa storyline “permeates the entire season, but not in ways you’d expect.”

“It was very important for us to address what Larry had been doing in the last five or six years since we last saw him. We kept thinking what he could have been doing and landed on him working on something. The idea of Larry writing a musical called Fatwa seemed funny, and then the idea of Larry getting a fatwa for writing a musical about a fatwa seemed really funny,” Schaffer said. “…The fatwa doesn’t just go away. Once Ayatollahs give one, it kind of sticks! So Larry has to deal with being a wanted man. We see how that impacts his social life, his friends.”

The Hollywood Reporter writer asked, “In the premiere alone, Larry is antagonizing the Islamic community, lesbians, his disabled assistant with a history of molestation and he also questions PTSD. Are you worried about how people might react and was that something you spoke about when making the season?”

Schaffer responded, “I can honestly say, and I speak with full confidence and I speak for Larry also, he has never once taken the audience into consideration. Not once, not ever. We are just working on a show that we think is funny, and that’s that… The joke I always say is that we know where the line is — because we can look back and see it. It’s back there in the distance, somewhere over there! No subject is off limits, it’s all how you do it. It’s finding the funny way to do a subject that most people wouldn’t touch.”

Salman Rushdie, who celebrated Banned Books Week in Tulsa last week, hasn’t tweeted since November. He did, however, enjoy Seinfeld joking about his fatwa.