In the last episode of the season (not the best season-ender ever, but still pretty pretty pretty good), Larry has the following conversation with Jennifer, a woman he recently started dating, about her son Greg’s upcoming birthday:
Jennifer: His birthday’s next week. We’re probably gonna have a party. You’re welcome to come. Probably just like a little family thing.
Larry: Nah, I don’t want to go.
Larry: Kid’s birthday party? Nah. I’m not that guy.
Jennifer: I guess it’d be kinda boring.
Larry: Hey you know what? I’ll buy him a birthday gift. How ‘bout that?
Jennifer: Larry, that would be so great.
Larry: If it helps with the sex, of course.
Jennifer: It will help with the sex.
Larry: Then I’ll get him a present. What’s the debate?
A little unobtrusive throwaway of a dialogue. Maybe it most obviously functions to move the plot along, setting up some further scenes/laughs (Larry thinks the kid is “pre-gay,” so he buys him a sewing machine for a present, with hilarious results…). But on its own it also ably illuminates Larry’s essential character. It shows (as many, many other scenes have) that Larry says pretty much whatever he feels or thinks. If he doesn’t want to go to the kid’s party, he says so; he doesn’t suck it up for the sake of appearances. Put in terms the early Freud liked to bandy about, the reality principle in Larry is weaker than and subservient to the pleasure principle. He wants to not go to the party (pleasure principle), and he also wants to continue having sex with Jennifer (pleasure principle): in order to have these two pleasures, he hits on the idea of at least buying the kid a present (reality principle). Pleasure principle: 2, reality principle: 1. A more normal person would consent to the displeasure of going to the party and of having to buy the kid a present (in order to keep the sex going). Pleasure principle: 1, reality principle: 2.
So Larry consistently looks for ways to concede the least amount of pleasure. Part of the formulaic feel, the redundancy given off by each new scene, must come from this consistency of character. How can we analyze this consistency? What is the political unconscious of this refusal to repress, this refusal to give way to “reality”?