13.7 C
New York
Monday, May 20, 2024

‘Seinfeld’s 10 Funniest Episodes, Ranked

In the constant evolution of television, no show has remained as timeless as Seinfeld. The aptly described ‘show about nothing’ became the thing in the 90s: A critical darling, a top 2 ratings ranking in seasons 6 through 9, and one of only 3 shows ending their run at the top of the Nielsen ratings (the other two are I Love Lucy and The Andy Griffith Show). Often imitated but never duplicated, Seinfeld’s influence remains in sitcoms.




Comedians and co-creators Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld broke new ground in the writing of the show, using a combination of irony, coincidences, and the incongruity theory of humor. With coined catchphrases, iconic appearances, and realistic storylines, the antics of Jerry (Seinfeld), George (Jason Alexander), Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), and Kramer (Michael Richards) brought hilarious moments to the small screen. Here are the 10 funniest Seinfeld episodes of all time.

Seinfeld TV Show Poster

Seinfeld

The continuing misadventures of neurotic New York City stand-up comedian Jerry Seinfeld and his equally neurotic New York City friends.

Release Date
July 5, 1989

Creator
Larry David, Jerry Seinfeld

Network
NBC

Streaming Service(s)
Netflix



Season 2, Episode 2the pony Cropped

Seinfeld’s second season was defined by transition. Delayed by the beginning of the First Gulf War, the show continued to struggle in the ratings and attention from critics, leading to a two-month hiatus. “The Pony Remark” was the most representative of this era of the show. At his second cousin Manya’s (Rozsika Halmos) anniversary dinner, Jerry remarks about hating people who owned a pony as a child, which causes Manya to storm out. After Manya dies suddenly, Jerry wonders if the remark had anything to do with her death.

Airing 4 days after the patriotic telecast of Super Bowl XXV, the episode’s sharp and mordant take on guilt was not only hysterical, but also a taste of the future. Jerry’s fear of social niceties expanding into death added a subtle macabre tone to the show, turning it into one of the actor’s best episodes. Louis-Dreyfus’s outward portrayal of Elaine’s self-centeredness was rare for a network sitcom character at the time. The episode netted David and Seinfeld’s first Emmy nomination for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series and is now regarded as a positive turning point in the show’s run.


9 “The Junior Mint” (1993)

Season 4, Episode 20

Kramer, played by Michael Richards, and Jerry, played by Jerry Seinfeld, watch a Junior Mint fall into a patient's stomach
Credit to Castle Rock

The fourth season of Seinfeld is arguably the beginning of the show’s golden age. They won their only Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series and increased their ratings by nearly 10 million viewers after moving back to the Thursday primetime slot after Cheers midway through the season. “The Junior Mint” was a highlight of season 4 after the schedule change. Elaine, Jerry and Kramer visit Elaine’s ex-boyfriend Roy (Sherman Howard) in the hospital where Jerry and Kramer accidentally drop a Junior Mint into Roy’s body during a splenectomy in the operating theater. Meanwhile, Jerry tries to remember the name of a woman he’s seeing (Susan Walters), knowing her name rhymes with a part of the female anatomy.


A majority of the episode’s humor derives from Jerry’s interactions with the woman (who could be named Celeste, Aretha, or Mulva) and the dramatic irony of whether the Junior Mint will kill Roy. George even buys some of Roy’s paintings thinking they will appreciate in value. At the end of the day, though, this is Michael Richards’ finest hour. Endlessly quotable dialogue, brilliant facial expressions, and the need to redecorate his apartment earned him his first of 3 Emmys for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.

8 “The Fix-Up” (1992)

Season 3, Episode 16

Elaine, played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Jerry, played by Jerry Seinfeld, have a conversation
Credit to Castle Rock


Larry David admitted that season 3 was a major turning point in the show’s production; more nonlinear storylines, more antics, more quirks, more lying from George. “The Fix-Up” is a combination of all four. After George reveals he’s desperate for a date, Jerry and Elaine set him up with Elaine’s friend Cynthia (Maggie Wheeler) and promise to be completely transparent with each other. But the relationship may falter after a “gift” from Kramer turns out to be defective.

Staff writers Larry Charles and Elaine Pope nailed the dichotomy between men and women’s actions in relationships. They masterfully use cross conversation to highlight the difference in language and tone between genders. Their ability to weave the ‘A’ and ‘B’ plots together into coherence set a narrative blueprint for David’s next show, Curb Your Enthusiasm. It is no wonder that Charles (who later directed Borat and The Dictator) and Pope rightfully earned the show’s first Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series, cementing Seinfeld as a critical hit and awards favorite.


7 “The Boyfriend” (1992)

Season 3, Episodes 17 and 18

Jerry Seinfeld’s personal favorite episode, “The Boyfriend” was the first extended episode of the series and later split into two parts for rebroadcast. Jerry meets former New York Mets player Keith Hernandez (portraying himself in an iconic cameo) and develops a friendship with him, much to the dismay of Kramer and Newman (Wayne Knight), who accuse Hernandez of spitting on them after a Mets game. Jerry’s friendship with Keith is put to the test when he asks Elaine out for a date.


Celebrity cameos can often go awry, but Seinfeld director Tom Cherones pushes the right buttons to get Hernandez’s performance right. He becomes an excellent foil to Jerry who tip-toes around the nature of friendship. Despite featuring a hysterical ad-lib between George and Jerry, the highlight of the episode is Jerry presenting Kramer and Newman the “magic loogie theory” to who spat on them at the game, parodying and recreating the Zapruder film from the movie JFK. TV Guide ranked “The Boyfriend” as the fourth-greatest TV episode of all time back in 1997, while the show was still on air. Often overlooked nowadays, the episode remains a fan favorite for Mets fans everywhere.

6 “The Chinese Restaurant” (1991)

Season 2, Episode 11

seinfeld the chinese restaurant
Image via NBC


In one of the more straightforward episodes, Jerry, George, and Elaine wait for a table at a Chinese restaurant but keep getting passed over. Elaine tries to control her hunger through various ways. George wants to use the payphone but its constantly occupied, and Jerry recognizes a woman he’s met before but cannot remember where. Set in real time with very little storyline, NBC executives rejected the script because of doubts surrounding audience reception. It wasn’t until Larry David threatened to quit that production finally commenced.

The result is an episode that is equal parts funny, existential, and satirical. All three characters’ narratives are elongated to its maximum point without true closure. This is a subtle critique of sitcom episodes with implied moral lessons, or the “very special episodes” that are advertised. Elaine’s desperate bribe of the maître d’ (James Hong) and Jerry’s callous admittance to skip dinner with his uncle to see Plan 9 from Outer Space represent the concept of opportunity cost and its ramifications. It is the best episode to introduce audiences to. A complete package of a show “about nothing.”


5 “The Hamptons” (1994)

Season 5, Episode 21

Kramer, played by Michael Richards, encounters a sleeping man on the beach
Credit to Castle Rock

The penultimate episode of Season 5 follows the gang on a weekend trip to the Hamptons to see Elaine’s friend’s baby. While there, Kramer steals lobsters from a commercial trap. Elaine is confused by the baby’s doctor (Richard Burgi) use of the word ‘breathtaking.’ George develops ‘shrinkage’ (a term popularized by show writer Peter Mehlman) after being in the pool, and everyone but George sees his girlfriend (Melora Walters) topless on the beach.


As one of the standout episodes from a season full of standout episodes, ‘The Hamptons’ evokes the ensemble-driven screwball comedy from Hollywood with its misadventures and pitch-perfect acting. Julia Louis-Dreyfus proves she can anchor the ensemble and bring the unfiltered snark that rattles around inside her head, especially when she’s around the ‘ugly’ baby. The episode is also a peak George storyline. Jason Alexander emulates an embarrassed, sad clown with his plight of shrinkage and even though he may get the upper hand, the ending brings it all back home.

4 “The Yada Yada” (1997)

Season 8, Episode 19

Jerry, played by Jerry Seinfeld, has his teeth checked by Tim Whatley, played by Bryan Cranston
Credit to Castle Rock


Larry David left the show after Season 7, leaving creative control to Jerry Seinfeld, who took the show into a more absurdist direction. “The Yada Yada” is indicative of that creative turn. Jerry’s dentist, Tim Whatley (Bryan Cranston), has recently converted to Judaism and keeps making Jewish jokes, irking Jerry. George’s girlfriend Marcy (Suzanne Cryer) keeps inserting the phrase ‘yada-yada’ into her stories to shorten them, while Kramer and Mickey Abbott (Danny Woodburn) double date but can’t agree which women are right for them. Elaine is referenced to an adoption agency by her friends Beth (Debra Messing) and Arnie (Stephen Caffrey), who are trying to adopt, but accidentally slips up about Arnie’s temper.

Staff writers Mehlman and Jill Franklyn must’ve had an ear because the dialogue is sharp and witty, punching up a routine story to the next level. Cranston and Cryer’s performances became one of the best guest spots in the show’s history. But of course, the phrase of “yada-yada-yada” grew in popularity, even though Kramer coining the term “anti-denite” is just as hilarious. Mehlman and Franklyn were rewarded with an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series, although this would be the last nomination for the show in that category.


3 “The Parking Garage” (1991)

Season 3, Episode 6

the Seinfeld gang in a parking garage
Credit to Castle Rock

Ranked the 33rd greatest television episode by TV Guide in 1997, the gang gets lost in a mall parking garage after Kramer can’t remember where he parked his car. This causes Jerry to urinate in a corner and get detained by security, Elaine to beg strangers for their help while carrying a goldfish that might die, and George to fear he might miss dinner with his parents. Not to mention that Kramer bought an air conditioner and placed it behind a random parking spot.


What separates “The Parking Garage” from other bottle episodes is how the gang interacts with the public instead of certain characters. Random shoppers ignore Elaine’s plea for help, some with outright condemnation. When George intervenes after a mother hits her son, the mother tells George to mind his own business, before the son calls him ugly. This was rare for any sitcom, let alone a television show, to jab at parents, children, and others as uptight buffoons while also generating laughs. The sympathy for Jerry, George, Kramer, and Elaine, who refuse to grow up, is perfect comic tension.

2 “The Marine Biologist” (1994)

Season 5, Episode 14

Corinne, played by Carol Kane, gives Jerry, played by Jerry Seinfeld, an electronic organizer
Credit to Castle Rock


If Season 4 was Seinfeld’s creative peak, then Season 5 was when the show skyrocketed in popularity. Another favorite of Jerry Seinfeld’s and tied for the highest rated episode of the season, “The Marine Biologist” follows George pretending to be a marine biologist to impress his old crush Diane (Rosalind Allen), while Kramer decides to hit 600 golf balls on the beach. Elaine and Jerry try to recover her electronic organizer after author Yuri Testitkov (George Murdock) throws it out of a limousine.

The cast gives it their all in this episode. Kramer’s frustration with his inability to golf makes him look like his eyes are about to pop out. Elaine keeps digging herself into a hole with that loud beeping noise and foolishly believing a lie about Tolstoy (what’s that good for?). The star of the show, though, is Jason Alexander as George. To see a cynical and lazy personality being uplifted by the woman of his dreams is a marvel in comedic character work. With one of the great monologues (performed in one take by Alexander) and one of the best Seinfeld endings, “The Marine Biologist” is a consistent pick for one of the funniest episodes on the show.


1 “The Contest” (1992)

Season 4, Episode 11

Kramer leaning his hand on the counter in Jerry's apartment in Seinfeld
Image via NBC

It’s ironic that Seinfeld’s funniest episode, from a show known for multiple storylines, features one storyline played to its most absurd and comical limits. After George is “caught” by his mother Estelle (Estelle Harris), the gang holds a contest for who can go the longest without being the “master of their domain.” Each character is then put to the test by a woman across the street from Jerry’s apartment, John F. Kennedy Jr, and a hospital sponge bath.


What can be said about “The Contest” that hasn’t already been said? Larry David’s sleight of hand teleplay fooled executives over its apparent subject (despite never explicitly mentioning what George did) and garnered immediate praise from critics for its execution of an incendiary topic in an inoffensive manner. David won his second Emmy and only solo award for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series. In 2009, TV Guide ranked “The Contest” as the greatest television episode of all time. Just as Kramer says during the contest, “I’m out!”

Seinfeld is available to stream on Netflix in the U.S.

WATCH ON NETFLIX

Source link

Related Articles

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Stay Connected

0FansLike
0FollowersFollow
0SubscribersSubscribe
- Advertisement -spot_img

Latest Articles