Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch – “The Apartment” (S2, E8)

Welcome to Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch! On a regular basis, Justin Rozzero, Aaron George, Andrew Flanagan and Jordan Duncan will watch an episode of TV’s greatest sitcom and provide notes and grades across a number of categories. The goal is to rewatch the entire series chronologically to see what truly worked, what still holds up today, what feels just a bit dated and yada, yada, yada it will be a great time. So settle into your couch with the cushions flipped over, grab a Snapple and enjoy the ride!

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Best Character

Justin: Everyone was pretty solid in this one, with nobody really standing out amongst the rest. Kramer was really good, especially during the scene where he pushes Jerry to give the loan, but George had the highest peaks with his social experiment at the party. Not only does he land his iconic “Lord of the Idiots” line but watching him go down in flames as he slowly realizes how bad he tanked his chances to score free sex and tickets is tremendous. He also nails a great line at the end when he calls the annoying marathon fan a new contender for the Lord crown.

Aaron: Tough choice here, but in the end I’ve got to go with George by the slightest of margins over Kramer. The Lord of the Idiots stuff was the…um…stuff of legend and his sociological experiment was great. George is at his best when we get to see his hubris followed by a severe punch of reality. So while he was soaring high boasting that he lies every day of his life, watching him lose guilt free sex for the rest of his life and floor seats to everything really makes me feel like everything is right in the world again.

Andrew: I’ll go with Kramer. It’s nice to see him get more screen time than he has in the last few episodes. He opens the show strong by showing off his new moussed look, and he was great when talking Jerry into loaning Elaine the money. It’s still weird to see him portrayed as a weirdo shut-in, rather than the unreasonably successful eccentric he would become, but the character is certainly making a push for a bigger role in the show.

Jordan: It’s a two-horse race between George and Kramer, but I’m giving it Costanza, Lord of the Idiots. His wedding ring experiment worked – which means that HE failed. They seem to have figured out that George failing at things is what needs to happen, and that’s only good going forward. Kramer was funny in his scenes too, but I’m itching to see a scene with him outside of the apartment again. Jerry wasn’t too bad here, but nothing that stands out.

Best Storyline

Justin: The apartment fiasco takes this one as it dominated the episode. Jerry and Elaine are still navigating this weird relationship they are in and it has led to multiple awkward situations since the show began. Jerry was so close to escaping his conundrum on multiple occasions and when he finally does wriggle free, it backfires on him thanks to his new noisy neighbors. And of course, it was Kramer that unknowingly was the fly in his ointment yet again. A lesser show would have turned Kramer’s constant meddling into a source of tension or angst from Jerry, but his unconditional love for the K-Man is part of what makes the show work so well.

Aaron: The offering the apartment to Elaine followed by immediate crushing regret really is the kind of situation this show is all about. We watch Jerry squirm at the thought of living under Elaine and yet he is unable to walk through many of the open doors that would banish her from the building. Everyone is tied in nicely, and putting your foot in your mouth is something we’ve all done both literally and figuratively.

Andrew: The apartment storyline is unspectacular sitcom fare for the most part, but it does lead to the strongest parts of the episode: George and Jerry’s competition for the title of world’s biggest idiot, and Kramer ruining Jerry’s escape from the apartment dilemma. Both are iconic moments for the characters involved, especially Kramer, whose energy is gradually changing from “weird and awkward” to “enthusiastic but oblivious”. George’s social experiment was fun as well, but the apartment storyline had more to offer.

Jordan: I want to go with George’s wedding ring experiment just to be contrarian, but the apartment story just had so much more to it, specifically Jerry’s immediate regret and secret plotting to submarine Elaine’s chances of moving in, while being enthusiastic to her face. Kramer made it all work by guilting Jerry into loaning Elaine the money, then providing the way out as well and he delivered in his moments.

Ethical Dilemma of the Week

Justin: When is it right to ask your friend for a large sum of money? Are the specific scenarios? Amounts? When is right to refuse the loan? $5,000 is a decent chunk of change and nothing about Elaine’s known history gives us any true feeling that should would be able to repay the loan anytime soon, so it would likely end up being a gift, at least part of it anyway. I don’t Jerry would have been wrong to say no, even with Kramer pressuring him. Of course, his history and feelings for Elaine are front and center and you can’t blame him for caving. Also, George’s experiment? Aces.

Aaron: If you don’t finish in first place in a marathon are you still a “winner”? From a young age we teach our children that it’s not whether you win or lose but how you play the game. Excuse me but that’s bullshit, and you are raising your child to be weak like the Ukraine (Spoiler!) To shout “you’re all winners,” at a bunch of marathon runners is patronizing and just incorrect. Do you expect them to run faster? All you’re doing is breeding complacent runners. I want to be better than that. I need to be. If I scream “If you don’t win I’ll murder your family.” Then they’ll run fast. Then I win.

Andrew: How do you turn down a good friend who wants to borrow money? Especially a large sum; Jerry is supposed to lend Elaine more than a year’s worth of rent? How does that sound reasonable to anyone involved? I get anxious just thinking about this fictional loan. But back to the dilemma: what’s worse, the immediate awkwardness of turning down your friend, or the potential for years of awkwardness stemming from a poorly defined loan between friends? Turning her down is probably the right way to go (“Like a band-aid: right off!”), but that’s easier said than done.

Jordan: I have three here: The obvious one: Should friends borrow that much money from each other? What if Elaine can’t pay Jerry back? $5,000 is a LOT of money, and that could damage the friendship as it hangs over their heads until Jerry is fully paid back. The second: Should Jerry really feel uncomfortable bringing a girl home just because his “friend” Elaine may see it? They’re not dating, so why should it matter? And the last dilemma: Should any of these people ever listen to Kramer?

Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)

Justin: Again, not much going on here besides the underlying issues between Jerry and Elaine. Manny and Harold definitely seem to have a little something going on, but we aren’t given the chance to really explore it further. Relationship Grade: N/A

Aaron: Manny and Harold look happy as hell in this one. I’m imagining that Manny is very aggressive in the bedroom, naked and muscular, Yankee cap on his head. While initially submissive, I can also see Harold being quite the power bottom generating the force from underneath all the while nagging his passionate lover. It probably is a good thing they’re not living above Jerry or that last scene would have been very different. Relationship Grade: 10/10

Andrew: I’ve always loved the chemistry between George and the “strictly physical” woman. What could have been… Relationship Grade: N/A

Jordan: Jerry fretting over the idea of Elaine knowing he is with a girl even though they aren’t an item is troubling. They’re NOT dating! Get over it! Relationship Grade: -25/10

What Worked

Justin: Jerry torturing Elaine before giving her the apartment news and slowly realizing his mistake as the conversation went on was really well done; Kramer pushing Jerry to lend Elaine the money and handling the negotiation was really funny and a true early classic Kramer moment; The party scene with George’s experiment slowly destroying him never gets old and each conversation is more devastating than the last; Kramer dancing to the annoying music, aloof to the fact that it is annoying and that it is his fault is just the epitome of Kramer.

Aaron: I loved the competition to see who the bigger idiot was between Jerry and George, it’s classic Seinfeld dialogue and was a welcome call back near the end of the episode. Kramer negotiating Elaine’s loan from Jerry was fantastic as he continues to kill it with the little screen time he has. Jerry and Kramer also have a wonderful conversation about Kramer being a pod which would offend any other friend, but Kramer shrugs “you’re not normal,” off because… well… he’s not. The overall structure and pacing is also great with very few interruptions in the main thrust of the action. A tight, tight episode.

Andrew: As I’ve mentioned already, Kramer is great in this episode. I also like all the scenes where Jerry and George analyze the situation; all the talk of who’s a bigger idiot, Jerry’s “divine plan” theory, George’s declaration that his “whole life is a sham”. Their dialogue really helps make the apartment story more than just a wacky sitcom plot. George’s interactions while wearing the wedding ring were quite enjoyable, as he realizes his “experiment” isn’t getting the results he had hoped for. As usual, I found Elaine really charming, and I enjoyed the debut of the “Get out!” shove.

Jordan: Jerry’s hidden angst from Elaine was a lot of fun, watching him play excited when she was around then desperately scramble when she wasn’t there. Kramer was funny and didn’t seem creepy this time, more of an eclectic pal. George’s wedding ring plan blew up right in his face, and it was awesome. I also loved Jerry and George’s disgust at  the lady shouting “You’re ALL winners!” It sums them both up so well.

What Didn’t Work

Justin: Manny & Harold are kind of annoying and random and we never really find out who they are (owners? supers?) and why they argue randomly in the hallways; The pod/human being discussion between Jerry and Kramer always bugged me for some reason, it felt a bit forced; Kramer’s moussed hair was off-putting; That is really it here as the episode was pretty crisp and featured very little wasted time.

Aaron: Not a whole lot to complain about here. Manny and Harold could have been a funnier paring. The shot outside Monk’s diner was strange, and the hero worship of Jerry at the party was also a little weird. I feel like I’m stretching here. Kramer did look pretty ridiculous with the mousse…

Andrew: Manny and Harold always bothered me. They get introduced as if they will be recurring characters, as Jerry seems pretty friendly with them, but we never find out what their official capacity in this building is, and then they’re never seen again. I didn’t think they were bad or unfunny or anything, but they definitely feel out of place. Maybe I just can’t see Glenn Shadix without thinking of Beetlejuice. Also, the ending feels a little off for Seinfeld, as George learns a lesson about using a wedding ring to pick up chicks, and Jerry learns that there are worse people to have live above you than your ex.

Jordan: Manny and Harold were a weird, random duo. They seemed like some sort of inside joke that nobody watching the show understood. I also thought the ending was very cheesy and sitcomesque, right down to Kramer coming in and saying, “Oh, I love this next song!” But the biggest issue, and if you are reading this, I encourage you to track down the episode and watch, is the wardrobe at the party. Each woman that George or Jerry interact has more outlandish clothes on than the one before them, and Elaine is sitting there in her cartoonish suit jacket watching it all happen.

Key Character Debuts

N/A

Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes

– “You are going to have to have all your sex at women’s apartments. It will be like a permanent road trip. Forget about the home bed advantage.” – George

– “For that rent, she’ll take a bath in the toilet tank if she has to!” – George

– George attempts to get women by wearing a wedding band

– Kramer first tells George he should get hair plugs or a toupee

– “I lie every second of the day. My whole life is a sham.” – George

– “What’s to see? A woman from Normay, a guy from Kenya and 20,000 losers.” – Jerry

– “So please. A little respect. For I am Costanza: Lord of the Idiots.” – George

– Elaine performs the “Get out!” shove for the first time

Oddities & Fun Facts

– Kramer starts to mousse his hair

– Elaine gets a New York City apartment for $400

Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)

Justin: This is a pretty weird episode in that I didn’t really love it but I can’t think of much bad to say about it. It was crisp and flew by, had no wasted effort, told a really good story and had some iconic moments but something was just missing that prevented it from clocking in any higher. George was really good and it is a credit to how well we have gotten to know his character that the apartment scene could feel so devastating despite just taking up maybe two minutes total of the whole episode. He is definitely the most fleshed out character at this point. A fun episode, but nothing that will resonate long term. Final Grade: 5/10

Aaron: I really couldn’t remember this one going in and I was impressed with how solid it was. The formula is totally there now, and you can really see the show evolving into the comedic monster it would become. We can still use a little more Kramer and Elaine (as involved as she was) in their own adventures, but for now the focus on Jerry and George is more than strong enough to carry the show. Final Grade: 5/10

Andrew: I didn’t love this one. At the risk of getting repetitive, I have to say that “The Chinese Restaurant” raised the bar for the show, and this episode feels closer to “generic sitcom episode” than to that standard. I wasn’t crazy about Jerry’s “pod person” speech, or Kramer’s air guitar at the end, and even the stand-up scenes bothered me more than usual. That said, the story is solid and well executed, the cast has excellent chemistry, and there are enough laughs and memorable moments to keep the grade up. Final Grade: 4/10

Jordan: I dunno, this one was just kind of there. It wasn’t offensively bad, but it certainly wasn’t memorable. I laughed a bit and thought the overall plot was interesting enough, and George’s subplot was enough to carry things along, but I’m just waiting for the show to really fire up. They’ve had flashes of brilliance in “The Pony Remark” and “The Chinese Restaurant”, so we know even early on they can deliver a classic. I guess this one just felt like a step backwards after what we’ve been getting. Final Grade: 4/10

Author: JT Rozzero

JT Rozzero is a cohost of the Place to Be podcast and original member of the legendary Moliseum Video. He enjoys all sports. The only thing he hates more than traffic and customer service is people. He is a proud Svenjolly and has had a sinus infection since October 2013. Send Justin an email