Indeed, some scenes play like Curb redux: In one, the germaphobic Remi refuses to share her water with a thirsty hiking buddy: “I just don’t know why I should be punished because you forgot to bring water.” In another, Remi scolds her friends Owen and Lily for not getting “solidarity [ice cream] cones” in sympathy as she grieves her breakup. Minutes later, as her friends console a friend who’s just learned that her mom has a tumor, Remi stares straight-ahead, nonchalantly licking her ice cream cone.
This scene calls to mind a similar and classic Curb scene from Season 6: Larry David licks his own ice cream cone, while pausing to guilt a friend in mourning for not returning a condolence call, and to complain trivially about his ice cream melting. When the friend tries to pay back Larry some money he owes, Larry refuses to take it—not because of the nominal amount or because his friend is grieving—but because he’s disgusted that the friend pulls the bill out of his sweaty running shoe. The younger David and Kalani’s writing often seems inspired by a formula the Curb creator laid out for his show: “I like to take the small things and make them big. And I like to take the big things, like disease and death, and make them small.”
Remi, too, likes to flip social norms. While she obsesses over the filters she puts on her online persona, she lacks any in real life, often delivering lines in a dyspeptic monotone. She’s hyper-aware of how she’s perceived online, but rarely notices how her actions affect others. Like Curb’s Larry, Remi is blunt and pushy, with little consideration of boundaries. Larry David has said his character is how he’d act if there were no social constraints, and that the caricature is a mouthpiece for “all the things that we think about that we can’t say.”
A much younger misanthrope, Remi navigates a shifting, contentious relationship with those closest to her and doesn’t hesitate to call others out for behavior she’s also guilty of. When a friend pulls out of plans, she scoffs at his excuse: “Oh you don’t feel ‘100’? Who ever feels ‘100’? I’ve never felt above 72 in my life.” To leave a party early when her friends won’t oblige, she tries to sabotage the mood by switching the music from Migos to classical. And Owen’s suggestion to call a Lyft offends Remi: “Honestly, I can’t believe you would just like throw me in a car with a pink mustache on it when I’m this vulnerable.”
Though Eighty-Sixed shares comedic DNA with Curb (as do a ton of other shows), it’s very much in line with the current comedy landscape. The genre has been particularly kind to web series by young female creators like David lately: Issa Rae’s Awkward Black Girl was developed by HBO into Insecure, whose second season returned Sunday. Curb’s home network also picked up the web series Brown Girls, which is debuting its first season this fall. Next month will bring the fourth-season premiere of Comedy Central’s Broad City, formerly a popular web series by Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson; that show’s self-absorbed millennial characters call to mind Eighty-Sixed’s Remi, but also the leads of acclaimed shows like Girls and You’re the Worst.
While fans wait for Curb’s return—and for two new episodes of Eighty-Sixed arriving in September—it’s fun to watch the two series together as a sort of generational box set. As David Sr. mines the humorous tension between propriety and brutal honesty, the entertaining tension in Remi’s character comes from her caring what people think of her online but not caring what they think of her in real life when, perhaps—as Larry repeatedly finds out—that might be a good idea.