Give Susie Essman an Emmy Nod for Final Season of ‘Curb’


This week:

Attention Must Be Paid!

It is a rare, affirming experience when you are watching a TV series or film and see yourself reflected back. I realized this last week that it’s finally happened for me, thanks to a 68-year-old incredibly rich Jewish woman with rage issues, an unfiltered and filthy mouth, disastrous wardrobe, and conviction that the world is conspiring to keep her from being skinny. Finally, I feel seen.

For 12 seasons across nearly 25 years, Susie Essman’s Susie Green has been the gasket-blowing, expletive savant that’s served as the lynchpin of Curb Your Enthusiasm’s comedy.

It’s a show, we now know after Sunday night’s series finale, about how bad-behaving people don’t always learn lessons, and maybe are the ones who are actually right in the first place. We also know, after 120 episodes of Larry David’s shenanigans, that it doesn’t make them any less annoying, their grievances any less socially shocking, and their unapologetic attitude about it all any less frustrating. That’s why we need a Susie.

Susie is catharsis. She is the purging of disgust and disbelief that we all wish we could unleash when we encounter the Larrys of the world. When Susie erupts, sniper-firing curse words at the imbeciles and shutting them down completely, she is doing it on behalf of all of us. She is the expressed id we’re all burying.

I was shocked—disturbed, really—to learn that of the 51 Emmy nominations that Curb Your Enthusiasm has received over the years, none has been for Essman’s performance as Susie. It is the definition of a comedy supporting performance. The show would not work without her. Every single scene she is in is memorable. And, beyond any of that, there’s not a line reading she gives that doesn’t rank among the funniest things you’ve seen or heard that week.

In the finale, she punctuates the opening comedy bit of Larry, Jeff (Jeff Garlin), and Leon (J.B. Smoove) being bonkers on an airplane, telling the stewardess, “You are dealing with three very disturbed individuals here.” Her calm delivery, in contrast to her usual outbursts, made me do a spit-take. Later, when she dons a wig, sits in a wheelchair, and begrudgingly tries to gain Larry sympathy in his court trial, her seething support was another new note from her. And then when the powder keg explodes after she learns that Jeff stole her anniversary gift, it’s Susie at her purest. Pure fury and filth, and for us, pure joy.

Yet, for all her tirades, we always see that Susie is a person who enjoys calmness, nice things, and fun at heart. It’s the merry band of idiots around her that causes her to lose her patience. I get it.

Give Susie Essman the Emmy nomination she deserves this year. If not, I’ve collected 24 years of pointers on how to brutally dress you all down for the oversight.

A New SNL Classic

I know people are gearing up for what should be a great new episode of Saturday Night Live with Ryan Gosling as the host. But this is a newsletter about pop culture from the past week that I can’t stop thinking about, and I’ve thought about nothing more than the “Jumanji” sketch from last week’s Kristen Wiig-hosted episode—and may not think of anything else for a long, long time.

It is the case of SNL perfection: a premise that is bizarre at the surface, then becomes surprisingly relatable, and is written and acted with sharpness, no lazy jokes or baiting gimmicks. In the sketch, Wiig’s character is meeting her boyfriend’s friends for the first time. After a nice dinner, the host, played by Andrew Dismukes, suggests they play the train-themed board game Ticket to Ride. The issue is: Wiig’s character doesn’t play board games, because she doesn’t want to be “Jumanji’d.”

SNL sketch

What ensues is a dizzying, hilarious debate about how an adult could legitimately be afraid of such a silly thing morphs into the physics what it actually means to be “Jumanji’d.” Dismukes’ breaking point monologue has played in my head on a loop all week: “It sounds like you think Jumanji is going into Jumanji. But in Jumanji, Jumanji comes out!”

Watch it here. And then watch it 14-43 times a day, as I have.

How Is This Real?

I know that I’m usually ranting about Real Housewives or being somewhat embarrassing about my celebrity crushes in this newsletter. But I contain multitudes! For example, one of the things I’ve watched this past week that I’ve been most fascinated by is this clip National Geographic just released of never-before captured penguin behavior. It’s stunning.

A preview of the upcoming series Secrets of the Penguins shows a march of Emperor penguins. At around 5 months old, the penguins typically shed their feathers and sojourn to the water, where they will jump off the arctic ice and into the sea to swim for the first time. The common assumption, as has been observed, is that the young birds leap from a platform about one or two feet from water level. But what cinematographer Bertie Gregory captures—with thrilling drone shots—is dozens and dozens of penguins taking their first dives from a cliff that’s roughly 50 feet in the air.

Image of 50ft Ice shelf penguins jump from
National Geographic

I swear, it’s astonishing. I was rapt and in disbelief as each successive bird took the leap. Watch it here.

So…O.J. Died…

I have no interest in wading into any discourse about O.J. Simpson’s life or death. Instead let me point you towards the best nine seconds of television concerning him that ever aired, courtesy of 30 Rock and Jane Krakowski.

gif featuring Jane Krakowski's character on 30 Rock referencing OJ Simpson as her boyfriend.

Watch it here.

What to watch this week:

Civil War: An explosive warning against a Trump takeover that everyone should see. (Now in theaters)

The Sympathizer: Robert Downey, Jr. might be following up his Oscar with an Emmy. (Sun. on HBO)

The Greatest Hits: The most original time travel story in years. (Now on Hulu)

What to skip this week:

Franklin: This Ben Franklin series could use a zap of lightning. (Now on Apple TV+)

Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead: And maybe don’t tell her that this remake kinda stinks. (Now in theaters)

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