Some comedy does not age well – if it was ever funny in the first place. So while we get psyched to binge-watch
an entire series from the ‘90s like Seinfeld (which is now on Netflix), we also have to admit that some of the things that passed as funny 30 years ago aren’t always seen in the same light today.
We aren’t being the woke police, either. Even
Seinfeld’s co-creator, star, and namesake, Jerry Seinfeld, acknowledges that the show made some missteps, and that there are episodes he would now tweak or throw out altogether.
“There’s a number of them that I would love to have a crack at, but I don’t really believe, philosophically, in changing or even thinking about the past,” the comedian told reporters during a recent press junket. “My philosophy of life is that just happened the way it happened, and we’re going to go from here. And that’s the best way to … live.”
“I think regret is a philosophical position that I disagree with. It kind of assumes you could have changed the past, so I wouldn’t even think of that,” he continued. “But if you forced me or you gave me a time machine, yeah, there’s a few [where] I would fix some things.”
While Seinfeld wouldn’t get into the details of which episodes he finds problematic, we took a stab at it and came up with 10 of the worst, most offensive episodes that even the most die-hard
Seinfeld fans could do without.
Offensive Seinfeld Episodes
‘The Stake-Out’ – S1, E2
In this early installment of the series, Jerry clicks with an attractive woman but doesn’t want to ask for her number in front of his ex Elaine. Instead, he figures out where she works, then runs into her accidentally-on-purpose, prepared with a story about why he happened to be in the building. He gets a date, but let’s be crystal clear on this: stalking is not sexy.
‘The Implant’ – S4, E19
In another Jerry-being-a-creeper storyline, the comedian begins dating a busty woman. Elaine insists the woman’s boobs are fake, which, if true, is a deal-breaker for Jerry, so he recruits Elaine to spy on her at the gym and report back. Elaine does, and is convinced they’re fake, so Jerry ends the relationship. But later, Elaine trips in the sauna and falls right onto the woman’s boobs, after which Elaine realizes they might be real after all. All this non-consensual gawking and groping would never fly in today’s #metoo world.
‘The Shoes’ – S4, E16
Taking the “eww” factor up yet another notch is this episode, in which George is caught ogling the breasts of his boss’ 15-year-old daughter. When he can’t talk his way out of his disgusting behavior, he enlists Elaine to flaunt some cleavage in front of the boss to prove that men are powerless in the presence of boobs.
‘The Beard’ – S6, E16
Seinfeld is an equal opportunity offender, it was only a matter of time until it came for the LGBTQ community. In this episode, Elaine agrees to play a gay man’s girlfriend so as not to arouse the suspicions of the man’s homophobic boss. Fair enough. But at the end of the date, she inquires if he’s ever thought about “changing teams,” essentially suggesting that he could be persuaded to be straight if only he met the right woman, a calling card of conversion therapy fanatics.
‘The Cigar Store Indian’ – S5, E10
Once again, Jerry sticks his foot in his mouth like the clueless white male he is. In a blatantly racist plot that would never air today (we hope), he parades a cigar store Indian statue and makes hooting noises in front of a Native American woman. Somehow, she still grants him a date, during which he tries to avoid words like “reservations” and “scalper” so as not to upset her, then basically calls her an “Indian giver” without actually speaking the slur. And somehow,
he's the victim in all this.
‘The Cafe’ - S3, E7
In this politically incorrect episode, Jerry convinces Babu, a Pakistani immigrant, to make his generic café a Pakistani-themed eatery instead. Babu obeys, but the venue fails. As if that weren’t bad enough, Jerry gets Babu deported…by accident. Hardy-fucking-har.
‘The Wizard’ – S9, E15
Elaine is dating a new man whom she suspects is part Black, so she tries asking him questions to figure it out. When that fails, she takes note of his affinity for hip-hop music and African masks and decides he’s Black. But when they’re out to eat and she calls a Black server “sister,” followed by, “It’s OK, my boyfriend is black,” he corrects her and says he’s white. What’s worse, he always assumed she was Latina because of her last name (Benes). Ultimately, the ignorant duo realizes, “So we’re just a couple of white people?” Yup, the worst kind.
‘The Chinese Woman’ – S6, E4
George accidentally gets his lines crossed (literally, they’re phone lines) with a woman surnamed Chang. Jerry shares that he likes Asian women, to which Elaine responds, “Isn’t that a little racist?” Jerry retorts, “It’s not racist if I like them.” (Wrong answer, Jer.) Jerry’s bummed when Chang turns out to be white, but he dates her anyway because “she is still a woman, after all.” What’s worse than a racist? A racist misogynist.
‘The Diplomat’s Club’ – S6, E22
George offends his Black boss by telling him that he looks like Sugar Ray Leonard. In an attempt at making amends – or more accurately, proving he’s not racist – George tries to find a Black man, any Black man, to be his friend. He finally finds an exterminator to fake a friendship and accompany him to dinner with the boss, playing into the pathetic white American pastime of claiming, “How can I be racist? I have a Black friend!”
‘The Puerto-Rican Day Parade’ – S9, E20
In perhaps the most controversial Seinfeld episode ever, Kramer stomps on a burning Puerto Rican flag and causes a riot. An angry mob chases him, after which, Kramer yells, “It’s like this every day in Puerto Rico!” Um…no, it’s not. NBC eventually issued a formal apology for the episode and yanked it from rerun circulation. If only the network was more discerning with the other 179 episodes of the show...