Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch – “The Fusilli Jerry” (S6, E21)

Welcome to Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch! On a regular basis, JT Rozzero, Aaron George, Andrew Flanagan, Jordan Duncan and Jason Greenhouse 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

JT: Throughout the whole episode I was debating this between George and Kramer. Both were superb, especially Kramer slowly morphing into The Assman. Then Frank Costanza showed up and it was ball game. From his dumbbell workout, to his foreplay move, to his power walk into Jerry’s apartment and demonstration, to his stubborn refusal to give up on the Manssiere nickname, he was a force of nature. Cap that off with his uncomfortable demise that was stamped with his deadpan explanation to his estranged wife and you have a lights out winner.

Aaron: I can’t see any conceivable way that it’s not the Assman himself: Cosmo Kramer. Which is all the more impressive with Frank Costanza in the episode. It’s the way he enters the room, as though expected, bearing a statue made out of pasta for his friend; he presents it as though it was a thing, a normal thing that human beings do. He’s so damn casual about, perhaps, the strangest piece of art since the Romans painted the coliseum with all those Christians. “Here ya go buddy.” As though it were possible for Jerry to have commissioned this…thing. His conviction that he’s going to build more in his “spare time,” is as funny as his reasoned assessment that his vanity plates probably belong to a proctologist. Brilliant.

Andrew: The main cast all have their moments, but I enjoyed Kramer’s the most. He’s the perfect character for the Assman storyline, and the idea that he would fashion a Fusilli Jerry in his “spare time” is delightful. And I will never not be amazed by his line reading when explaining why the pasta captures Jerry’s essence: “Because you’re sill-i”. That pronunciation twist is just perfect.

Jordan: Kramer. It’s Kramer. He’s the Assman. He is a proctologist. He makes pasta sculptures of his friends. He gets random notes from ladies. He knows that the plate belongs to a doctor. He gets Estelle all worked up. He is partially responsible for Frank having a Fusilli Jerry shoved deep into his rectum. It will always be Kramer. It can only be Kramer.

Jason: Everyone was on point here, but Dr. Cosmo Kramer, Proctology. His theory that the plates belong to a Proctologist was brilliant. Parking in doctors parking spaces, picking up heavy set chicks and stopping short with Estelle. “HEY, THE ASSMAN’S IN TOWN!”

Best Storyline

JT: As much as I want to go with the sex stealing stuff, the fact that Jerry suddenly is some lothario with an amazing sex move took me just a bit out of it. The Assman is where it is at. Even the DMV clerk was tremendous when she delivers the plate and confirms with Kramer that she is correct. It was all gravy from there, ending with the top notch tie in and pay off with the proctologist.

Aaron: Assman. In the eyes of the state of New York Kramer becomes the Assman which leads to him being lauded in the streets and eventually ends with Frank combing Jerry’ apartment in a frantic attempt to take down a legend.

Andrew: It’s definitely “the move” for me. That storyline made quite an impression on me in my formative years. And I’m once again amazed at this show’s ability to talk so frankly about sex on network television. They somehow manage to be incredibly specific, but just vague enough to avoid being censored for clearly describing a sex act. Once again, it’s just perfect.

Jordan: It can only be Assman. It has to be Assman. I know this is our opinions, but all other answers are incorrect. Kramer and the license plate that is shrouded in mystery – who does it belong to? Sir Mix A Lot? Nicki Minaj’s father? A proctologist? A Place To Be Nation listener? Whoever it is, it opens up Kramer to a new world of big bottomed women throwing themselves at him, and he is happy to oblige. The final reveal with the wink from the doc seals it.

Jason: All plots came together very well, but the move stealing stuff dominated and was full of laughs. Everyone gets involved in this in fashion, making it one of the best storyline’s in series history.

Ethical Dilemma of the Week

JT: Can you really steal a sex move? It wasn’t patented. Jerry doesn’t perform it on stage. He told Puddy all his secrets, you have to assume that if something that impressive is revealed that it may be cribbed and used elsewhere. Lock down you property, Jerome, or just let Puddy practice his swirl on Elaine all night long.

Aaron: Should Elaine (and all women for that matter) desire to be with a man that reminds them of Stanley Kowalski? Not if they don’t want to be raped and checked into a mental institution they shouldn’t.

Andrew: Is it OK for Kramer to park in a “Doctors Only” space? It’s not like they need the space open for an emergency, it’s just a status thing, right? If you can get away with it, I say go for it. I hate those doctors, they’re so smug.

Jordan: Should you be furious if your partner wrote down sex notes on their hand? It depends on the outcome – Nancy was clearly pleased, so what is the issue? Does she prefer unsatisfying sex? She should have taken George to a tattoo parlor and had that move emblazoned on his hand for all of eternity.

Jason: Is a good mechanic better than sex? Abso-FREAKING-lutely!

Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)

JT: Nancy is a bitch. She pouts when George doesn’t please her in the bed, so he works hard, learns some new tricks and takes notes to ensure he can perform it accurately. She loves it but then gets mad that he jotted it down. Who the fuck does she think she is? Move on, Georgie Boy, she ain’t worth the counter clockwise swirl. Relationship Grade: 0/10

Aaron: Elaine and Puddy have no business being together. He’s stupider, dirtier and dead pannier than anyone she’s ever been with. For Christ’s sake it would have made more sense that she ended up with Yankee “Stroke” Bean guy. I guess when it comes right down to it the philosophers were right: opposites do attract. Relationship Grade:10/10

Andrew: Nancy sucks. If she’s so unimpressed with George’s technique, shouldn’t she be grateful he’s getting some outside advice? David Puddy, on the other hand, is love at first sight. Not for Elaine, though. For me. That character is a national treasure. Relationship Grade: Dripping with Animal Sexuality/10

Jordan: Elaine and Puddy are perfect. But we have plenty of time to talk about them. Let’s talk about Kramer and Estelle. She was not oblivious to his casual compliments. He repeatedly said nice things about her, then capped it all off with a stop short. She seemed flattered, aroused AND confused, not unlike how I would feel if the Assman put the moves on me. Relationship Grade: DON’T MAKE HER CRY/10

Jason: Elaine and Puddy are meant to be, as we’ll see down the road. Nancy shouldn’t be pissed at George for having the crib notes. At least he’s putting in the effort. Kramer and Sally… OH BOY! Good for the K-Man!  Relationship Grade: 36-24-46/10

What Worked:

JT: George commenting that Monk’s sells lobster was funny and I loved his instant anger at anything Estelle says; The Guatemalan Ricardo Montalban kid; ASSMAN!; Puddy’s post sex breathing is a thing of beauty; The fact that Jerry has a killer sex move may finally explain how he lands all these bombshells; The Pinch vs. The Swirl; Nancy Klopper is an odd name; Kramer proudly walking in with the Fusilli Jerry was tremendous, as was him working on a Ravioli George; The whole Assman convo in the apartment; Puddy’s delivery is amazing right away and his argument with Jerry is really fun, especially with Jerry offering to allow him to do the move out of town only; George butchering The Move; 36-24-46; Kramer parking in the doctor’s only spot because of his license plate and then accidentally making a move on Estelle; Johnson Rod; The Knuckle; Kramer with the large assed woman; Frank flipping out about Kramer stealing his move; George getting caught with the sex move notes on his hand; The fact that George can bang attractive women in his children’s bed and war chest of shit sex moves is very impressive; Frank looking for “your friend Kramer” throughout the apartment and demonstrating stopping short is a tour de force; The Bro/Mansiere argument is amazing too; Frank falling on the Fusilli Jerry is about as amazing a payoff to a random gag as we have ever seen; Dr. Cooperman being the Assman may be the second greatest; Frank explaining his episode to Estelle is tremendous, “It was a Fusilli Jerry”

Aaron: “I fell on some fussilli,” is perhaps my favorite line in the history of the show. It’s said with such simple honesty that a less insane actor would have missed in his overplaying of it. Frank is also at his frantic best tearing into Jerry’s apartment and saying “He stopped short,” as though the other characters are supposed to know what he’s talking about. Everyone’s outrage as they discover that someone is using their move is such a wonderful parallel between them. George also has a tremendous outing here. He tries so hard to win his mother over with his lobster joke but Estelle has literally no shits to give since she’s out there now. His prophetic “I’m rubbing two sticks together,” rings so wonderfully true later as he admits to attempting to “pleasure” Nancy Klopper. By the time he’s reading sex notes off his hand we’re no longer concerned that he’s banging these broads on his childhood baseball sheets. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention George’s analysis of dealing with mechanics. I still think about a Johnson Rod every time I need to bring my car in. It’s small but when Jerry asks Elaine to get an estimate from Puddy for his car, her reply is filled with the most incredulity I’ve ever seen on TV. “AN ESTIMATE????” How the hell is she supposed to achieve that. Of course she does it during sex which is a choice shows with much smaller balls would never touch. There’s also something completely genius about telling a story about comedians stealing each other’s jokes through sex moves.

Andrew: It’s lost the shock value of the first viewing, but man, is that first “Assman” conversation great. Kramer and the DMV clerk immediately start throwing the name around casually, and it’s fantastic. I’ve mentioned this already, but the sex talk in this episode is a hilarious mix of explicit and ambiguous, from Elaine bringing up the “pistons and lube jobs” at the mechanic, to George comparing his moveset to “rubbing two sticks together”. I also love the joke about no one being able to admit to a proctologist that they “stuck something up there” deliberately. And I’ve come to enjoy the parallel between joke-stealing and move-stealing more than I did when first saw this episode.

Jordan: I mean, is it cheap to say basically everything? Kramer was at his absolute best here, but everyone else was great too. Elaine and Puddy are terrific together, and this is his debut! He only gets better. I loved her trying to sound seductive as she asked about blown shocks for a Swedish car. Jerry telling George the move on the street, then cutting to them walking into the apartment while he’s still describing it is pretty funny. The license plate is incredible, and the doc they pick at the end is great. Of course, the proctologist talk at the beginning, “YOU PLANT YOURSELF THERE!” is funny on it’s own, but when it pays off with Frank falling on the Fusilli Jerry, it’s next level greatness. George is awesome with his mom, pawning her off on Kramer so he doesn’t have to drive her home from the doctor’s. He also butchers the move and has to use notes. I always get a kick out of George’s room being decorated like a ten year old from the 1960s. It’s like he is using Kevin Arnold’s bedroom from The Wonder Years. I also actually liked Jerry’s stand up before the episode. Elaine getting hot and heavy…hache mache!

Jason: George’s lobster bit; “Today’s the day!” George’s frustration with having lunch with Estelle; “You take TV out of this relationship, it is just torture.” Estelle thinking she’s out there; “You can’t be, because I am out there. And if I see you out there, there’s not enough voltage in this world to electroshock me back into coherence!” Kramer’s Guatemalan gag: Ricardo Montalban. Kramer pickng up his new plates from the DMV; “As far as the State of New York is concerned, you are the Assman.” George not having any moves. Jerry explaining his move to George like it’s a recipe; Clockwise swirl. Kramer making Fusilli Jerry in his spare time; “Because you’re silly” A MILLION TO ONE SHOT DOC, A MILLION TO ONE, George botching the move on Nancy; “It feels like aliens poking at my body.” George recognizing that Puddy stole his move; “Is there a knuckle involved in any way?” Kramer’s wink after introducing Sally to the gang. Frank working out with a dumbbell. “I feel vigorous!” Bickering Frank and Estelle; “Getting an eye job like some Manhattanite?” Frank freaking out when Estelle tells him Kramer stopped short with her. “He stopped short and made a grab.” Nancy finding the notes on George’s hand; “Number one, take her leg…” Frank demonstrating stopping short. Frank falling on Fusilli Jerry. The gangs uncomfortable expression; “He had to use cork-screw pasta” Dr. Cooperman being the Assman, the perfect pay off!

What Didn’t Work

JT: Weird to have Jerry suddenly care about who Elaine dates; Jerry suddenly being a zen sex master just weeks after refusing a threesome is an odd character turn; Not sure why Nancy is offended that George wrote down the notes on his hand, she should be impressed he worked so hard to pleasure her;

Aaron: Why would Elaine tell Jerry about Puddy using the move (in a pissed off way) if she ENJOYED herself and wanted him to continue? She looked downright spooked as she lay there beside some form of breathing apparatus, and yet the next day she’s practically begging for the move back.

Andrew: I don’t think I need this section today.

Jordan: Jerry Seinfeld, MASTER OF SEX is just weird to me. The guy tucks in baseball jerseys, there is no way he’s a cassanova between the sheets.

Jason: I think I’ll stop typing…right now!

Key Character Debuts

David Puddy

– Dr. Cooperman

Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes

– “I don’t know what it is, but I just can’t see you with a mechanic.” – Jerry “Oh, yeah. Right, right. Well, all those mechanics do is work all day with their hands and their big, muscular arms on machines, and then they come home dripping with animal sexuality like Stanley Kowalski. What a huge turn-off that is.” – Elaine

– “Well, I’m out there, George.” – Estelle “No, you’re not out there.” –  George “I am, too!” – Estelle “You’re not out there! You can’t be, because I am out there. And if I see you out there, there’s not enough voltage in this world to electroshock me back into coherence!” – George

– “He worked on this kid from Guatemala with no nose. Turned him into Ricardo Montalban.” – Kramer

– “Assman? Oh, no, these don’t belong to me. I’m not the Assman. I think there’s been a mistake.” – Kramer “What’s your name again?” – Clerk “Cosmo Kramer.” – Kramer “Cosmo Kramer. You are the Assman.” – Clerk “No! I’m not the Assman.” – Kramer “Well, as far as the state of New York is concerned, you are.” – Clerk

– “Oh, it wasn’t like that! I didn’t even mention you. You know, we were in the garage. You know how garages are. They’re conducive to sex talk. It’s a high-testosterone area.” – Jerry “Because of all the pistons and the lube jobs?” – Elaine

– “Oh, yeah. The pinch. I’ve done the pinch. That’s not new. Besides which, I don’t know how you could trust any of his moves now. His whole repertoire could be lifted.” – Jerry “You know, it’s strange, because he’s such an honest mechanic.” – Elaine “I know, he’s probably the only honest mechanic in New York.” – Jerry

– “How tall is she?” – Jerry “Five-foot four. Why?” – George “You can’t have more than a one-foot differential in your heights. Otherwise, you could really hurt your neck.” – Jerry

– “You know, I’m working on one of you, George. I’m using ravioli. See, the hard part is to find a pasta that captures the individual.” – Kramer “Oh… Why Fusilli?” – Jerry “Because you’re silly.” – Kramer

– Yeah. Assman, Jerry. I’m Cosmo Kramer, the Assman!” – Kramer “Who would order a license plate that says “Assman”?” – Jerry “Maybe they’re Wilt Chamberlain’s.” – George “It doesn’t have to be someone who gets a lot of women. It could be just some guy with a big ass.” – Jerry “Yeah, or it could be a proctologist.” – Kramer “Yeah. Proctologist.” – Jerry “Come on! No doctor would put that on his car.” – George “Have you ever met a proctologist? Well, they usually have a very good sense of humor. You meet a proctologist at a party, don’t walk away. Plant yourself there, because you will hear the funniest stories you’ve ever heard. See, no one wants to admit to them that they stuck something up there. Never! It’s always an accident. Every proctologist story ends in the same way: “It was a million to one shot, Doc. Million to one.”” – Kramer

– “The Assman” enters pop culture immediately

– “Call me. Thirty-six, twenty-four, forty-six. I think I have what you’re looking for.” – Note on Kramer’s car

– “You must have done *something* wrong. You probably screwed up the order. Did you close with the swirl?” – Jerry “Supposed to close with the swirl?” – George “Oh my god. Yes, you close with the swirl. There’s a progression there. I told you to write it down.” – Jerry “Yeah, yeah, should’ve written it down.” – George

– “I mean, this move is no good, Jerry. It’s just taking up a lot of my time. And I…will not stand by and allow him to perform this move on me, when a perfectly good move is just sitting in the barn doing nothing!” – Elaine “Let me ask you a question. This new move. Is there a knuckle involved in any way?” – George “Yes. As a matter of fact, there is.” – Elaine “I think that’s mine.” – George “I’m not surprised.” – Elaine

– “You’re not the only one improving yourself. I worked out with a dumbbell yesterday. I feel vigorous.” – Frank

– “Getting an eye job like some Manhattanite?” – Frank “Well, it’s already working. Kramer made a pass at me.” – Estelle “Kramer made a pass at you? You’re crazy.” – Frank “I’m not crazy. He stopped short and made a grab.” – Estelle “He stopped short? That’s my move. I’m gonna kill him!” – Frank

– “You think I don’t know, Assman?!! To think I almost split the profits on the Mansiere with you.” – Frank “Bro.” – Kramer “Mansiere!” – Frank “Bro!” – Kramer “Mansiere!” – Frank

– “If I wasn’t there, I wouldn’t have believed it.” – Jerry “Me either.” – Elaine “They say this guy’s the best.” – George “He had to use cork-screw pasta.” – Jerry

Oddities & Fun Facts

– The Bro vs. The Mansiere argument is a callback to The Doorman (S6, E18)

Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)

JT: This is one of my all time favorites for many reasons. I had discovered Seinfeld before this point, but this was the the first episode ever recorded to VHS. I would end up amassing eight tapes stuffed with classic episodes, but this one kicked it all off. Meaning, this is the episode I have probably seen the most times. And it still cracks me up the whole way through. It was brilliantly written with everything tying together beautifully across the board. Everything that happened led to something else down the line. The Fusilli Jerry seemed like a throwaway gag but it ends up becoming the lynchpin of the episode in a way you never would have imagined. It also has a classic pop culture moment with Assman, which is still mentioned in accordance with the show to this day. Even the sex move stuff was so perfectly Seinfeld in that it lived in reality, edged toward absurd and toed the line of network TV decency all in one swoop. I think you could argue that it is a step below perfect in some ways, and my main issue is that we just now learn Jerry has this move in his back pocket, but when you factor in the intangibles and memorability of this episode, it gets a perfect grade from me. Final Grade: 10/10

Aaron: Perfect writing, stellar performances, an Assman and Frank Costanza. Come on! We have a nominee for best episode of all time. Final Grade: 10/10

Andrew: This might be my favorite episode. I’m a huge mark for David Puddy, and it has some of my favorite sex jokes I’ve ever seen. The “ASSMAN” license plate is legendary, as is Frank’s “I stop short” move. This may be recency bias, but I can’t think of an episode I love more. Final Grade: 10/10

Jordan: Yeah, this is perfect. It’s got everything Seinfeld was great at and it’s the debut of David Puddy. Has to be high on everyone’s best ever list. Final Grade: 10/10

Jason: Of all 180 episodes in the history of the series, this ranks number one in my book. It all comes together perfectly, plus we get the debut of Puddy and the iconic Assman. From beginning to end, a marvelous twenty three minutes of sitcom television  Final Grade: 10/10