It is one of the greatest shows of all time, and considered by many to be the funniest sitcom in history, and with good reason. Seinfeld has featured some of the best, most original stories ever featured in sitcom, played by some of the most memorable characters in television history. It won numerous Emmys while it was still on the air, and to this day receives critical praise for both its writing and acting.
I think I discovered the show around the 4th season (arguably the greatest season of the show’s 9-season run), and have been a fan ever since. I own all of the DVDs and still watch it in reruns on television every day. No matter how many times I’ve seen every episode, they are never any less funny than the first time I saw them. The antics of Kramer (who I named my cat after), Jerry, George and Elaine still make me laugh out loud, not to mention all of the great supporting characters like the Costanzas, Uncle Leo, David Putty, Newman (who I named my dog after), and even the often-mentioned-yet-never-seen Bob Sacamano.
Based on this, I decided I would pick out my top five favorite episodes and discuss what made them so great. Although the show was full of great episodes and you could spend all day picking the five best (and you’d be right no matter what; it was just that good of a show), these five (plus one honorable mention) have always stood out in my mind more than others. So, sit back, have a few laughs, make an anti-Dentite joke or two, and enjoy.
HONORABLE MENTION: The Wait Out (season 7, episode 7-23)
While this episode probably isn’t considered a classic when compared to others in the show’s run, it always stands out for me due to good memories attached to the episode. My mom was all excited for this episode after seeing a commercial for it, and we sat down that night to watch. My mom proceeded to laugh hysterically the entire episode, and, due to her laughter, I was laughing hysterically as well. To this day, she still laughs to the point of tears every time it’s on.
In the episode, Kramer buys a pair of jeans after Jerry pointed out that he wore them all the time when they first met, but age has changed his body. Kramer winds up buying the tightest pair of jeans known to man, jeans so tight that he can’t even bend his knees to sit down, nor can he take them off. Meanwhile, Jerry and Elaine try to catch both halves of a married couple (played by Cary Elwes and Deborah Messing) on the rebound after a folksy remark by George is taken the wrong way, causing them to think about their divorce.
5. The Strike (season 9, episode 9-10)
This episode makes the list for it’s overall ridiculousness, as well as Jerry Stiller’s amazing performance as Frank Costanza. While he was always amazing in this role, this particular episode is one of the character’s best outings. Elaine gives out a bum phone number at Tim Whatley’s (played by Brian Cranston) Christmas party to a man only known as “Denim Vest” (Kevin McDonald), but accidentally gives the number to him on the back of her Atomic Sub card, which she has been saving in order to get her free sub sandwich.
Meanwhile, Jerry meets a girl at the same party who, depending on the lighting, can either look very attractive or hideously ugly. After receiving a donation to a charity as a Christmas gift by Whatley, George makes up a charity of his own in order to save money on gifts for his co-workers. Kramer goes back to work at H&H Bagel after a very long strike comes to an end. This all culminates with the celebration of Festivus, a holiday created by Frank Costanza when George was a child after Frank became disillusioned with the commercialism of Christmas.
*Side note about this episode: For those that don’t know, this episode was actually based on the real life of one of the writers of the show, whose father did in fact create a new holiday for the family after getting angry about Christmas’ commercialism. Since this episode, the holiday of Festivus is actually celebrated by many people across the country, with some doing everything exactly according to the episode, with others adding their own tweaks here and there.
4. The Junior Mint (season 4, episode 4-20)
This is one of the first episodes I ever recall seeing, and is considered one of the greatest by many fans. This episode was one of two that were the catalysts for the show taking off and becoming such a huge success. Elaine finds out that an artist ex-boyfriend has been hospitalized due to some intestinal problem, while George receives a check for $1900.00 from the state comptroller’s office due to interest accrued from money he used to put in savings as a kid.
Kramer, Jerry and Elaine visit the ex-boyfriend named Roy in the hospital, where Kramer decides he wants to see the operation in progress. Kramer and Jerry go to the operation, with Kramer bringing a box of Junior Mints with him. Jerry refuses one offered to him, accidentally knocking it out of Kramer’s hand and into Roy’s open intestines. George uses his money to buy a bunch of Roy’s art, thinking Roy will die soon and the art will become very valuable as a result. Instead, the mint somehow saves his life.
3. The Jimmy (season 6, episode 6-19)
Kramer’s performance here completely steals the episode, and is one of my all-time favorite perfomances in the show’s history. Jerry, George and Kramer meet a man named Jimmy at the health club, who is always referring to himself in third person and sells vertical leap training shoes as his business. After the health club, Jerry has to see Dr. Tim Whatley for a dentist appointment, and finds he has issues of Penthouse magazines all over.
Meanwhile, thanks to a series of bad coincidences, those in charge at the Yankees think George is involved in company equipment being stolen. Kramer also has a visit with Dr. Whatley, and becomes so loaded with Novocain that he speaks like he’s mentally challenged. Combined with him wearing a pair of the training shoes during a chance meeting with the head of the AMCA (Able Mentally Challenged Adults), Kramer appears to be mentally challenged and is made the guest of honor at a charity dinner featuring Mel Torme. George gets out of his mess by talking like Jimmy, which winds up confusing his boss, George Steinbrenner (“Why would George steal from the New York Yankees?”). Kramer shows up to the dinner with Elaine in normal condition, but winds up with his speech impediment once again after a confrontation with Jimmy leads to a punch in the mouth. The show closes with Kramer being serenaded by Torme.
2. The Outing (season 4, episode 4-17)
This episode spawned one of the most oft-repeated lines in the show’s history (“Not that there’s anything wrong with that!”) and is considered a classic not only for discussing the topic of homosexuality in a positive way, but taking stabs at political correctness by repeating the aforementioned line ad nauseum throughout the episode. After discussing Jerry’s birthday, Jerry, Elaine and George notice a woman eavesdropping on their conversation about who is the ugliest world leader. Elaine decides to have fun with the woman and starts implying that George and Jerry are gay.
The guys later do an interview for the NYU newspaper, and it turns out the woman doing the interviewer is the same one who was eavesdropping on their conversation, resulting in her believing that they are indeed gay. At the same time, George is trying to break up with his girlfriend, who is obsessed with him and threatens to kill herself if he dumps her. The interviewer goes back and forth on publishing the article about Jerry and George being gay, and finally does wind up publishing it after overhearing a phone conversation she wasn’t supposed to. George uses the article as an excuse to break up with his girlfriend, but she doesn’t buy it after catching Jerry making out with the woman from NYU.
The second of the two episodes that turned the show around, this episode is considered by many (me included) to be the greatest Seinfeld episode ever. Despite the subject of masturbation still being somewhat controversial for television at the time, the writers of the show not only tackled it in a hilarious way, but did so without ever actually mentioning the word once for the duration of the episode. After George winds up getting caught doing “it” by his mother, the gang agrees to a contest to see who can go the longest without gratifying themselves. Kramer is out first after seeing a nudist in the next building. Elaine, despite being the predicted winner, goes out next after a chance meeting with John F. Kennedy, Jr. causes him to want to date her. George manages to continue on, despite the nurse at his mother’s (who fell down and hurt her back after she caught him; played by Estelle Harris) hospital being gorgeous and giving a gorgeous patient a sponge bath every day.
At the same time, Jerry is going nuts as things are getting hot and heavy with his girlfriend Marla (Jane Leeves), despite the fact that she is a virgin. Eventually, Marla decides she’s ready to have sex with Jerry, but before that happens, Jerry admits to her the whole contest, completely scaring her off in the process. Elaine eventually sets up to meet “John-John”, but they miss each other and he winds up going home with Marla instead, taking her virginity. At the same time, Kramer hooks up with the nudist in the next building.
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-DustinJason Alexander, Jerry Seinfeld, Jerry Stiller, Julia-Louis Dreyfuss, Michael Richards, Seinfeld, television, TV shows