Since we are a nation in lock down and practicing social distancing, there is more time to invest in our flourishing and moral betterment. Yes, there is more time to watch the greatest television show of all time.
“And about this, there can be NO DEBATE!” – Poppie
Since Seinfeld is an encyclopedia for all of life, I’ve collected several episodes which in some way relate to this COVID-19 pandemic.
Cue the bass riff.
- “The Pie” (Season 5, Episode 15)
Yes, let us begin with Poppie being a little sloppy! Jerry dates Audrey, and while she doesn’t eat her peas “one at a time” she nonetheless refuses to eat apple pie (even on her birthday). She is also the daughter of Poppie, who ends up having his restaurant closed by a health inspector because (we assume) he doesn’t wash his hands after going to the bathroom.
Lesson? Wash your hands!
2. “The Merv Griffin Show” (Season 9, Episode 6)
This is my second favorite episode (the first being “The Marine Biologist”). As a Pastor, I had to deliver a sermon to my congregation through Facebook Live even though the sanctuary was empty. As I sat there talking to…well…no one, I thought, “I guess I am Kramer on the Merv Griffin set in his apartment.” Well, at least I technically had a camera. (That would satisfy Jim Fowler.)
This episode is filled with amazing story lines. Elaine and her ‘Sideler’ of a co-worker. Jerry drugging her girlfriend in order to play with her ‘toys’. George accusing the pigeons of breaking their deal with us. And finally, Kramer’s ‘Emperor Has No Clothes’ saga of hosting the Merv Griffin Show in his apartment. Oh yeah, Newman makes an appearance too.
Also, George’s reaction to when he first walks into Kramer’s apartment is maybe the greatest acting in the history of the show.
3. “The Apology” (Season 9, Episode 9)
This is the classic germophobe episode. It is likely that if the coronavirus pandemic was happening 20 years ago that Peggy would think Elaine is a carrier. Even though I rank “The Susie” episode above this one, I always enjoy Peggy and Elaine’s interaction. Throw in some David Puddy (always a winner) and you get some great laughs.
Plus, the other story lines of George having anger issues (and a feud with James Spader!) and Jerry’s girlfriend testing the limits of modesty are pretty good too.
4. The Kiss Hello (Season 6, Episode 17)
Maybe you are like Jerry and prefer less physical contact, whether there is a pandemic or not! This episode centers on Jerry being the only tenant in his building against Kramer’s idea of putting everyone’s picture and name in the lobby resulting in everyone giving a “kiss hello” to one another.
There isn’t much else desirable in this episode. Wendy doesn’t do it for me as a side character. And while I normally enjoy me some Uncle Leo and Jerry’s parents, their particular plot line doesn’t deliver a lot of laughs. Still, enjoy this episode simply for Jerry’s painful endurance of getting kissed hello!
5. “The Pothole” (Season 8, Episode 16)
One of a few episodes which show us Jerry the germophobe, Jerry accidentally knocks his girlfriend’s toothbrush into the toilet and doesn’t get the chance to tell her before she uses it. That Jerry’s girlfriend knows how to mess with Jerry by putting an anonymous object of his into the toilet is priceless.
I love Kramer’s plotline as well in adopting a highway and giving it wide lanes. And this leads to perhaps the greatest ending to any episode of Seinfeld with Newman’s mail truck catching on fire. “Oh, the humanity!”
6. “The Gymnast” (Season 6, Episode 6)
While the main plot of this episode has to do with Jerry’s relationship with a gymnast, it is George (no surprise) who steals this episode. He strikes out on three hilarious occasions with his girlfriend, the most notable being when his girlfriend’s mother (Mrs. Enright!) catches George reaching into the trash can to consume a half-earth eclair. (I could imagine George being PatientZero in today’s COVID-19 crisis because he was eating trash.)
We also get an Elaine and Mr. Pitt plotline involving 3D-art, but the punchline of that story (which is the final scene of the episode) doesn’t do it for me.
Still, this is a classic George episode that is always worth watching (and cringing).
7. “The Stall” (Season 5, Episode 12)
Since humanity has proven Agent K from Men in Black to be correct when he says that while “a person is smart, people are dumb panicky dangerous animals” by hoarding toilet paper during a pandemic of a respiratory virus, this episode has much for us to relate to. An anonymous woman doesn’t have a “square to spare” for Elaine in a public restroom. That’s right, this episode is about someone hoarding toilet paper!
The story gets better as we find out that Jerry’s girlfriend is the anonymous woman. While Jerry tries to keep her identity a secret from Elaine, eventually we see our favorite female Manhattanite get her revenge. Call this episode, “Revenge of the Toilet Paper!”
This episode also gives us the hilarious plot line of Elaine’s boyfriend, Tony (aka the Male Bimbo, or Mimbo), and George has a due crush on him. Although, it is heartbreaking to hear Tony tell George to “step off.” 😦
8. “The Butter Shave” (Season 9, Episode 1) and “The Voice” (Season 9, Episode 2)
These two episodes may be the two best episodes to begin any Seinfeld season (though season 7 with “The Engagement” and “The Postponement” are a close second). Both have a similar running gag of Jerry being…yes, a germophobe. In one episode he throws away his shoelaces because they touched the bathroom floor, in the next he throws away his belt because it touched the bathroom stall.
Aside from those two gags, these episodes are hilarious. George pretending to be handicapped so that he can get a spiffy office and a private bathroom before getting caught and then spending the next episode trying to survive his new hostile work environment is amazing.
“The Voice” is memorable because it made everyone in corporate America say “Hello!” the day after it aired. Also, Kramer getting an NYU intern, Darin, is just perfect. I miss Darin, is he still in jail?
Okay, go enjoy these sit-com episodes about nothing! (And listen to this Seinfeldian wisdom about how hard it is to do nothing.)