Mr. Takahashi Has Become Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Best Villain

In Curb Your Enthusiasm's final season, there's only one man powerful enough to stop Larry David.

Dana Lee as Mr. Takahashi in Curb Your Enthusiasm season 12.
Photo: John Johnson | HBO

This article contains spoilers for Curb Your Enthusiasm season 12 episode 4 “Disgruntled.”

In its 12th and final season, Curb Your Enthusiasm has finally revealed its true colors. In addition to being a highly-choreographed comedic machine with improvised dialogue, the Larry David series is also something far more recognizable: a high school comedy.

Much like Saved by the Bell, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, or even Animal House, Curb Your Enthusiasm features a regressive institution and a hero who battles against it to establish their individuality. It’s just that, on Curb Your Enthusiasm, the regressive institution isn’t a high school or college but the Ocean View Country Club and that hero isn’t a high school senior but a senior citizen.

The fictional Larry David of Curb Your Enthusiasm is like Ferris Bueller if he were a 76-year-old millionaire. As we see in season 12 episode 4 “Disgruntled,” all Larry wants to do is have a good time – whether that means eating breakfast at the golf club after 11 a.m., bringing his own organic eggs from home, or getting to the bottom of which of his fellow country clubbers is the pseudonymous “Disgruntled.” And like in any good high school comedy, there’s a tyrannical administrator there to stymy him every step on the way. On Curb, that administrator is the country club owner Mr. Takahashi (Dana Lee).

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First introduced* in season 7 episode “The Black Swan,” Mr. Takahashi has been a consistent thorn in Larry’s side for the back half of the series’ legendary run. Many Curb Your Enthusiasm characters hate Larry David, but Mr. Takahashi is part of a select few who absolutely loathes him. That’s because Larry stands for everything Mr. Takahashi despises. Mr. Takahashi is an unshakeable scion of order. Larry David is an agent of chaos. The pair are like Batman and The Joker … if they were both in their 70s.

*Funnily enough, Takahashi actor Dana Lee actually made his Curb debut back in season 2 as an unnamed car customer.

Going back to our original high school metaphor, Larry and Takahashi also perfectly represent the pop culture dynamic between a power-hungry principal and a troublemaking student. Mr. Takahashi is constantly looking for a reason to kick Larry out of the club only to be foiled at the last minute by Larry’s criminal ingenuity or fate itself. In that way he’s like Dean Rooney doing whatever it takes to get Ferris Bueller expelled. It’s also telling that we have not yet learned Takahashi’s first name and Larry always refers to him to the teacherly “Mr. Takahashi.”

Watching the show through this sophomoric lens adds another layer of humor into the final seasons of the already extremely funny show. And though he’s only appeared onscreen six times thus far, Mr. Takahashi looms large as Larry’s chief rival and perhaps even the “big bad” of this final season. For that, a lot of credit must be paid to Dana Lee, a Chinese-American performer whose family emigrated to Houston when he was seven years old. Lee has been working as an actor since 1974 and his IMDb entry is one of the more fascinating documents you will ever lay eyes on.

With only six episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm left to go (that we know of), it remains to be seen how David chooses to conclude his epic TV journey. Whatever the Curb ending ends up being, let’s hope that Mr. Takahashi gets to be a part of it.

New episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm premiere Sundays at 10:00 p.m. ET on HBO.

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