Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch – “The Fix-Up” (S3, E17)

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!

Seinfeld_[The_Fix-Up]_(1992)_4

Best Character

Justin: Even though he had very low volume this time around, I am going with Kramer. Jerry and Elaine were very good in their roles but they tapered towards the end, peaking with the scenes where they sell their respective friends on the date. George was good too, but this wasn’t his strongest outing. But Kramer? Oh yes. Doling out defective condoms, busting up fights and spitting wisdom like a wise old sage, Kramer nailed each every scene he was given this time around.

Aaron: I really, really want to give this one to George because he was so good, but Kramer was absolutely perfect. He’s not in the episode that much but his three interjections are hilarious. Something about Kramer coming in with a bag of condoms from Bob Sacamano just feels right and his suggestion that Elaine take “half a bag” made me wake up my wife. From there he becomes the peacemaker where his physical prowess is only matched by his ability to chastise and shame Jerry and George (and Jerry and Elaine) into not fighting. Both rants are golden, but “can’t you see that you two are in love with one another,” is one of the best and most truthful lines of the show. Just brilliant work here.

Andrew: Everyone is pretty good here, but George is the clear winner for me. His bizarre list of desired qualities is a classic (“Is there a pinkish hue?”), and the various outbursts are good as well (“My boys can swim!”). He really takes us on an emotional journey in this one, from hopelessness, to excited optimism, to crushing disappointment. And that’s all before the first date.

Jordan: I will join the club and give this one to the K man. George was shockingly successful in this episode, and that’s just not George enough for me. He scored on a first date and was charming enough to convince her that he would make a great father. That’s definitely not the George I know. I liked Jerry and Elaine fine and their scenes together were very solid, but Kramer took a small part and ran with it. At this point in the series, he’s like the sixth man, coming off the bench to provide a spark, and he’s nailing it. Nearly everything he said and did was funny: being stunned that George would need a condom and declaring Jerry and Elaine to be in love being the highlights.

Best Storyline

Justin: There was really just one storyline, so the fix up wins by default. It was a strong storyline that delivered some classic lines and funny laughs. It also had a good payoff that made George look good for once…until he ate.

Aaron: The only real storyline is the fix up and it’s pretty great. George’s journey from desperately stuffing his face with spaghetti to screaming about being a father is a joy to watch. There’s the wonderful juxtaposition of George interrogating Jerry about Cynthia and Cynthia slowly dragging the information out of Elaine, the date and the strange hot plate related fallout and finally George hungrily stuffing his face with bread (and potentially more spaghetti). George may end up feeling cheap and violated but it’s a tight piece of writing where everyone plays to their strengths perfectly.

Andrew: The fix-up storyline is the only viable candidate, but it’s a good one. I especially liked the contrast between George and Cynthia’s questions about the fix-up, and the shifting loyalties for Jerry and Elaine were good as well. Kramer doesn’t have a lot to do in this story, but he did have the best moment of the episode: “Don’t you two see that you’re in love with each other?” And the fact that all the emotional drama of the relationship is rendered moot by George’s gross eating habits is just perfect.

Jordan: It’s the fix up. Not only is it the only legit story (I guess defective condoms being second?), but it was really well done. I really enjoyed the differences between what George was interested in compared to Cynthia. George asks about her face and body, Cynthia asks about his job and personality. I also like that Jerry talked Cynthia up, while Elaine immediately mentions that George poisoned his boss and is fat. Jerry and Elaine both knowing about the sex but not telling each other was a nice way to carry the story after the initial date too.

Ethical Dilemma of the Week

Justin: After mutually agreeing to share all information about the fix up, should Elaine and Jerry have been more open after the first date? No, they handled it correctly. You don’t spill the beans on that stuff until it comes out organically, as it did. They were both good friends throughout this episode, defending their pals across the board.

Aaron: Should you trust condoms that come out of a giant paper bag handed out by your neighbor? No.

Andrew: Avoiding the more controversial options: is it OK to set some friends up on a date, if you’re mostly in it for the “power trip”? Absolutely. Plenty of great relationships have started on less noble footing; even if your motive was “playing God”, if you’ve increased the happiness in the world, I’d call that a net positive.

Jordan: Should you set up your friend with someone that you think is terrible? While it’s never been outright said, it is pretty clear that Elaine thinks George is a total loser. I kind of feel like Cynthia should be offended with Elaine’s choice here.

Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)

Justin: Obviously the main relationship on display here was George and Cynthia and it was a twisted ball of complexity. Obviously there was a lot of pressure on them to make it work, but Cynthia seemingly bails quickly and puts this one to bed…or kitchen, I guess. It was destined to fail from the start because Cynthia didn’t have the best image of George heading in. Sad stuff. Blue condoms for all…out of sadness. But then! A glimmer of hope! George did the right thing…Cynthia was happy! And then…George ate. It will never work. Relationship Grade: 3/10

Aaron: I like George and Cynthia. I love how they both seem extremely hesitant to date the other but still manage to have a good time on the date. It oddly ends up with them having sex on a hot plate, but what great date hasn’t ended like that. A fix up maybe be just a personal ad away from hiring a prostitute but I want to believe these two have decent chemistry together. There has to be some happiness for George at some point. Right? Right????  Too bad he can’t eat like a human being. Relationship Grade: 6/10

Andrew: Ah, Cynthia/Janice; your world-weary bitterness speaks to me on a very deep level. But I hate Seinfeld’s vision of couples being cute (“Best seat in the house…right next to the kitchen”), so I’m not broken up that this one didn’t last. Relationship Grade: 5/10

Jordan: This is probably the best we’ve ever seen George do in a relationship. He was charming on the phone and didn’t even need his notes, he sealed the deal on the first date, and the pregnancy scare caused George to be a stand up guy. On that alone, I’m tempted to go 10 of 10, except I know “Cynthia’s” dirty little secret. She’s going under an assumed name and she’s just trying to get her ex jealous. That ex? MISS CHANANDALER BONG. Relationship Grade: MUST SEE TV/10

What Worked

Justin: I enjoyed the cutting back and forth between Elaine & Cynthia and George & Jerry, good dichotomy setting up the story of the episode; Cynthia was really good, very funny and good delivery; Despite being such a dick, it was cool of Jerry to defend George to Elaine, even though he kind of sucks; As someone that has tried multiple fix-ups, I really enjoyed all the nuances fleshed out here; I dug the scene where George was grilling Jerry about Cynthia, including Jerry’s nonplussed delivery, and vice versa with the girls; Kramer and the condoms was great, especially when he told Elaine to “take half a bag”; I love Kramer busting up the two fights and spewing his wisdom after settling things down; Great framing with George walking in when Elaine reveals that Cynthia missed her period.

Aaron: Everything George said to Jerry when he was trying to get a description of Cynthia. “Flowing, cascading hair,” “a good cheek” and “pinkish hue” are all fantastically George. The pace with which he pumps Jerry really adds to the comedy and is wonderfully contrasted by Elaine and Cynthia. Jerry was wonderfully dismissive and mean throughout. He’s so high status and aloof throughout the whole ordeal but then is completely defeated by a bottle. Jerry and Elaine’s banter keeps getting better and more nuanced with every episode. I’d certainly be remiss if I didn’t mention that Elaine more than holds up her end washing over George’s faults to Cynthia. “He’s powerful,” certainly sounds better than the omitted “he banged a cleaning lady.” I love how pained she looked trying to tell her friend with a straight face she should go out with the cheap, unemployed, stocky man whose face has a lot of character. When Cynthia says “so he’ll BE bald?” Elaine’s “yes” is flawlessly sidesplitting (how do we feel about sidesplitting as an adjective? I didn’t want to use hilarious again… I’m gushing…). There’s also a nice little symmetry here where Jerry and Elaine are discussing the fix up in the exact same positions they discussed sleeping with each other.

Andrew: I liked all the cutting between parallel conversations. I’m a sucker for that stuff in general, but they put it to really good use here, contrasting Cynthia and George’s perspectives both before and after their date. Kramer busting into Jerry’s apartment to break up two different fights was great. And I touched on this a bit earlier, but I really liked the ending: the euphoric optimism of a young relationship destroyed by George eating a chicken wing. Seinfeld is heartless cynicism with a smile on its face, and I love it.

Jordan: The absolute BEST thing for me, hands down, was George laying on his bed in his robe…and then the camera reveals a poster of the Justice League above his bed. Just so funny to me for some reason. I mentioned earlier I really liked the differences between what George was interested in compared to Cynthia, as well as Jerry’s sell job versus Elaine’s. George eating like a pig at the start and end of the episode was a nice capper. Kramer bursting into the room at just the right times to hand out condoms, break up fights and declare love was all perfect. Jerry and Elaine both knowing about the sex and suspecting the other one did, but refusing to admit it, was nice and probably could have been a whole episode by itself. I liked seeing Jerry stick up for George too. Jerry, to me, is at his funniest when he’s mocking George, but it’s almost a sibling type situation where only HE can berate him.

What Didn’t Work

Justin: Not enough Kramer, but that is an ongoing complaint; George sprawled out in bathrobe on the bed was a bit disturbing.

Aaron: I thought it was weird to see George and Jerry start off in the Italian restaurant but it was more than made up for by the tremendous editing with went from the ladies talking about desperate men to George shoveling his food in his mouth. Almost all the clothes are atrocious. Elaine seems to be wearing some sort of hammock in the scene where Cynthia laments being late

Andrew: The bulimia jokes were in bad taste. I do think that comedians can and should be able to make jokes about anything, but these felt mean rather than funny, and could have been left out. Jerry getting so upset on behalf of George felt a bit out of character. And I wish we’d learned more about Bob Sacamano’s job at the condom factory. That clearly should have been a spin-off.

Jordan: Really not much. I guess I’d like more Kramer, but I am not sure where he would fit. I feel like I would have rather seen George explaining to Cynthia that he would prefer to do it in the kitchen rather than hear the retelling of it, that seems like a great George line.

Key Character Debuts

– N/A

Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes

– “I mean it’s gotten to the point where I’m flirting with operators on the phone. I almost made a date with one.” – George “Oh, so there’s still hope.” – Jerry “I don’t want hope. Hope is killing me. My dream is to become hopeless. When you’re hopeless, you don’t care, and when you don’t care, that indifference makes you attractive.” – George “Oh, so hopelessness is the key.” – Jerry “It’s my only hope.” – George

– “You know what your problem is? Your standards are too high.” – Elaine “I went out with you.” – Jerry “That’s because my standards are too low.” – Elaine

– “Well let me tell you something about George. He is fast. He can run like the wind. And he’s strong. I’ve seen him lift a hundred pounds over his head without even knowing it. And you wouldn’t know it to look at him, but George can bait a hook.” – Jerry

– “What does he look like?” – Cynthia “Um, well, he’s got a lot of character in his face. Um, he’s short. Um, he’s stocky.” – George “Fat. Is that what you’re saying, that he’s fat?” – Cynthia “Powerful. He is so powerful, he can lift a hundred pounds right up over his head. And um, what else. What else. Oh, right. Um, well, he’s kind of, just kind of losing his hair.” – Elaine “He’s bald?” – Cynthia “No! No, no, no, he’s not bald. He’s balding.” – Elaine “So he will be bald.” – Cynthia “Yup.” – Elaine

– “Thick, lustrous hair is important to me.” – George

– George prepares notes for his phone calls

– “Why’d I think it was timbre? Yeah, she could do voiceover commercials, why didn’t you tell me about her voice?” – George “I didn’t notice the voice.” – Jerry “It’s mellifluous!” – George

– Kramer mentions Bob Sacamano, his friend that just got a job at a condom factory

– George prefers sex in the kitchen when it is the first time

– “I keep wracking my brain to try and figure out what I did. I was smart, I was funny, I made great small talk with the waitress so she could see I could relate to the commoners, you know, I’m a man of the people.” – George

– “You want to fight with someone? Fight with me. Oh, by the way George, you know those condoms I gave you? They’re defective, don’t use them.” – Kramer

– “I was just trying to help your bitter, twisted friend.” – Jerry

– “She missed her period? Oh my god. I can’t believe it! I’m a father! I did it! My boys can swim! I can do it! I can do it!” – George

Oddities & Fun Facts

N/A

Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)

Justin: This was a great dialogue episode with a fantastic relatable premise. Nothing crazy needed as the characters all did the heavy lifting through their talking and interactions. This is one of those forgotten episodes that housed a couple of all time phrases (“My boys can swim!”) and lots of laughs but isn’t in that upper tier because it is just missing that one intangible that pushes the true Hall of Fame episodes to the top of the pyramid. This episode made me laugh out loud enough to grade highly but fell a bit flat towards the end and was missing IT to get it to the highest grade level. Still, it was one worth checking out if you haven’t in a while. Final Grade: 7/10

Aaron: This is just a great episode build on the simplest of premises. I’m not sure I can qualify it any more without be mellifluous. Final Grade: 8/10

Andrew: This was another very enjoyable episode. I want to say they’re on quite a hot streak, but I feel like I say that every time; it’s probably time to readjust expectations and expect this level of quality from here on out. I will say that Seinfeld hit its stride quicker than I remember. I have no major complaints about this episode; I laughed, and enjoyed the story. But I feel like it was just slightly worse than the last few, so I’ll bump the grade down accordingly. Final Grade: 7/10

Jordan: I was nervous about this one coming right after The Boyfriend and thought it may be a let down, but it wasn’t. Where The Boyfriend was great with wackiness in the second spitter stuff, this one was great in normal, everyday stuff we can probably all associate with. A really solid effort from everyone, and I would have been fine if George and Cynthia kept going for a few episodes. Final Grade: 7/10

Author: Place to Be Nation Staff

Place to Be Nation Staff pieces feature any number of our contributors who are multifaceted when it comes to Pop Culture expertise.