Mondo Extra
Black & White Television

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Michael Neal: A+ | Grade It Now!
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Ben Stiller is in this episode. Blah blah blah. Jeff can't get Stiller to hire him on as an agent because of his huge exposed melon, and later, when Jeff and Larry are eating lunch at the hospital commissary yet again, Jeff decides to sue the hospital for malpractice over his shaved head that has now cost him money and a star client. Meanwhile, Larry still can't read the chicken scratch of a note the lady doctor gave him. A waitress suggests that he take it to a pharmacist, since they're the only ones who can make out a doctor's handwriting. Larry returns to the hospital pharmacist (who is black) to pick up his prescription, and asks him if he can make out the doctor's note. He does so gladly: "Larry. Had a great time last night. Would love to get together Friday at the Bel Air Regency hotel, just the two of us. So tired of all these brothers and sisters around. I know you feel the same way. Tell me your life wouldn't be better without...the Blacks."

There is no emoticon for using one finger to pull the collar of your shirt away from your neck, but Larry pleads misunderstanding; the pharmacist, not interested in apologies, hands him his medicine.

But Larry is not destined for all black people to hate him. The Blacks move back into the house after a night of Jeff's orca-whale snoring. "Worse than a damn hurricane," says Loretta in what has to be an ad-lib of some sort. Larry welcomes them back gleefully, and Auntie Rae even gives him a hug.

Jeff has his day in front of the board of the hospital. He's losing money because of his baldness. The entertainment world discriminates against him now. His main witness is bald activist Larry David. Larry is asked about what happened on the particular day in question, and he explains the entire story -- the lunch with the doctor, the bathroom, the whole bit. He tells them about the cell phone conversation, and as he says, "This 300-pound n--", a black member of the hospital board walks into the meeting late (typical). "Please continue, Mr. David," says a board member. Larry stares at the black man on the board. He turns back to the audience, only to see an older black woman and a black man sitting further back. He faces the committee as they chastise him in earnest to please continue his story. "Tell us what the man said," they demand. Larry silently shakes his head. It's never dawned on him to say "the N-word" but he sure as hell isn't saying "nigger" again. Larry is far from being a "PC" guy but the burden of not conceding to those standards is finally too much to endure.

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Mondo Extra

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Mondo Extra
Black & White Television

Episode Report Card
Grade It Now!
YOU GRADE IT
Times Change

Larry David is every bit as much a crab apple as old Archie Bunker. They don't like most people they meet, but they don't like them for very different reasons. Archie doesn't like Jews, Blacks, hippies, or any discernable ethnic minority. Larry doesn't like people who abuse sample sales, people who cheat at bingo, or people who point out how many times he uses the bathroom at work, regardless of skin color or ethnicity. In Archie Bunker's world, the dilemma was never getting him to say something racially offensive; it was trying to get him to stop. Race relations today are more sterile, kept under glass, and a great many people bemoan that, citing an inability to communicate across the racial divide as the major harm. In many ways they are correct, but I keep coming back to the fundamental question of when would I prefer to be a black person, 1978 or 2008? That's an easy answer, assuming you didn't just die or something.

Larry represents a new, perplexing kind of progress on television. The era of instructing viewers about racism, black people, stereotypes, and racial discord is over. Now what do we do? I think Curb has one of the best answers to that question. We laugh at it.

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Mondo Extra

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