Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch – “The Outing” (S4, E16)

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!


Best Character

Justin: Everyone. It was perfect of an ensemble performance for a sitcom that you could ever imagine. Every beat was hit, no stone left unturned, there were fantastic callbacks and cameo spots across the board. It was brilliantly written and executed by everyone.

Aaron: Just when you think he can’t get any when Elaine laughs in his face and says “over you?” when his girlfriend threatens to kills herself, George realizes his mother is going to find out he’s gay which leads him to another shameful visit to the hospital. George is the glue that holds this one together and he is consistently excellent in every scene. There’s a magic in his eyes when he realizes he can use his “outing” to break the heart of a suicidal woman, a magic that is only trumped when he interrogates/propositions the reporter with his “DO YOU WANT TO HAVE SEX RIGHT NOW!” Every day it’s something else with this guy. It’s a tour de force from a man who can go from doting housewife, to lying jerkstore to adult film sensation Buck Naked at the drop of a hat.

Andrew: George is tremendous in this one, whether he’s doing the “old married couple” routine with Jerry, panicking over people thinking he is gay, or excitedly using that misunderstanding to his advantage. He’s asked to deliver such vastly different performances over the course of the episode, and switches gears so quickly and easily without ever seeming out of character, that I can’t imagine it working without him. George is the best.

Jordan: When Michael Jordan was in his prime, he could have easily won every single MVP award. Instead, it would sometimes be given to other players who had really good seasons, just so MJ wouldn’t have it every time. Karl Malone’s MVP season is a prime example of that. I’m giving this one to Jerry in a very Karl Malone like way. George is entering his MJ mode and I could probably give him every “Best Character” nod for a while, but I feel like Jerry deserves some credit. He’s the worst actor of the bunch, but he really did a great job here, showing that he thought some of Sharon’s questions were off and panicking over the phone. A good effort.

Best Storyline

Justin: Not that there’s anything wrong with that. None of it was wrong. It was all very…politically…correct. And amazing.

Aaron: The outing is everything here. It’s such a strongly written episode that any sub plots would have felt tacked on and unnecessary. Just wonderfully tight writing and execution.

Andrew: The “outing” is the clear winner here. It’s such a well-executed example of misunderstanding comedy, using coincidences and out-of-context lines to hilarious effect. And it’s even fairly progressive, (at least by early 90s standards), with a lot of the humor coming at the expense of Jerry and George’s fear of being thought of as gay. This is a true classic.

Jordan: The entire outing storyline was great, but I’ll go very specifically with the actual interview in Jerry’s apartment. George coming off like a nagging housewife is brilliant. Meanwhile, Jerry is confused, but unable to put the pieces together just yet. Awesome, awesome scene.

Ethical Dilemma of the Week

Justin: Should Sharon have ran the article without doing a bit more research? She could have really gotten in trouble for libel without doing her due diligence and checking around more. It was a ballsy piece to run and she is lucky Jerry is the type to just toss his hands up and move on instead of being more litigious. The fact that she traded her body for integrity or a retraction was another ethical failure.

Aaron: I’ve got to say that it’s pretty unethical of Sharon to out a somewhat well known comedian without the slightest shred of evidence. Unless her professor is that slimy guy from TMZ that makes me want to thrust my genitals through the TV in a rage (not that there’s anything wrong with that) I expect her to be docked a couple of grades for not having a corroborative source.

Andrew: Is it OK for a reporter and her subject to get romantically involved? I can’t fault Jerry on this one; as far as I know, there are no ethical standards for being the subject of an article. But Sharon is on some shaky ground. Maybe she just hasn’t taken the Journalistic Ethics class yet.

Jordan: What was the purpose of Sharon’s article? It seemed like it was a real smear campaign against Jerry, to just out him. Did she even write about his unique takes on airline travel and laundromats? Probably not. Seems like she was writing for the National Enquirer.

Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)

Justin: Further in the ethics department, Sharon either lied about having a boyfriend and skillfully slipped it into conversation or she decided to dump his ass and make out with Jerry. Either way that kind of makes her hotter. And a bit of a slut. Relationship Grade: 10/10

Aaron: Jerry and George were made for one another. If they could get over the fear of penetrating one another they would surely see that there aren’t two more compatible people on the planet. Jerry’s calm sociopathic tendencies are balanced out perfectly with George’s neurotic fits. Jerry’s the ying to his yang, his Patroclus to his Achilles, his Heath Ledger cowboy to his Jake Gyllenhall cowboy. They go together like Bon Jovi and happiness. Relationship Grade: Rope Burn/10

Andrew: Finally, we see a relationship with real long-term potential. George and Jerry are clearly the One True Pairing of this show. Relationship Grade: 10/10

Jordan: Jerry’s love of Superman is on full display, as he has found his Lois Lane. Unfortunately, George winds up being his Lex Luthor. Sharon is clearly flaky and unreliable. However…Allison is willing to stick by George’s side no matter the circumstance. Gay? No problem. Porn star? EVEN BETTER. That’s commitment! Relationship Grade: 10/10

What Worked

Justin: George being shocked that a woman would be so upset about breaking up with him was good; Acid tongue Elaine and her jackets; The initial talk about George and Jerry coming out was well done; Buck Naked; The initial unfolding of discovery with Sharon in Jerry’s apartment is magical, maybe the best scene of the entire series; Kramer being positive Jerry doesn’t know when his own birthday is and then stomping on Elaine’s gift; The whole two-line phone fiasco blowing up on Jerry and George was brilliant; Guys & Dolls and the Collected Works of Bette Midler; The cascading of everyone finding out was so good; The callback to the hospital with George and Estelle and the sponge bath was amazing; The military officer risking discharge was timely and well delivered; Jerry and George bickering like a married couple, drawing out the angry Monk’s manager always makes me laugh out loud; Allison being the only one oblivious to meaning of the article; George blowing up Jerry’s spot is vintage selfish Costanza and that whole scene was perfect, capped by Kramer showing up with the good looking phone guy; All of the “Not that there is anything wrong with that” drops were just perfection, as was the whole damn thing

Aaron: The way the episode cleverly put them in the crosshairs of every uncomfortable situation was really quite a joy to watch. Of course Helen Seinfeld calls and George answers, of course Estelle has to go back to the hospital during a gay sponge bath, of course that pear isn’t clean. All the circumstance and evidence just piles up in the most haphazard of ways that totally sells the fact that Jerry and George are probably homosexual without ever seeming forced. Just great writing. Oh and the soldier… that poor, poor soldier. All the bits with George and Alison work, and it’s completely conceivable that coward George will in fact wait until she dies to end the relationship. Kramer is also so good in this one. He’s legit offended that Jerry and George haven’t told him and his mind is blown when he has all the same stereotypical reasons to be gay as Jerry has. His creep out of the apartment foreshadows his shifty behavior with the phone guy (who he’s sleeping with right? I mean it is night time). Kramer’s final “Not that there’s anything wrong with that,” is perfectly timed and delivered closing a tremendous episode.

Andrew: Everything? I love the out of context jokes: Jerry and George bickering like a married couple, their locker room “meet cute” story, or Kramer bursting in with his steam room plan. Their growing panic during the phone call is hilarious, as is their over compensation, like Jerry becoming uncomfortable with lavish Broadway musicals, or George offering to have sex “right now!” to prove his heterosexuality. But the mocking of homophobia might be the best part, especially the horrified reactions of their parents. Elaine’s refusal to take her coat off is a fun way to deepen the misunderstanding, and she and Jerry getting into a slap-fight over it is great. Kramer being offended that he found out that Jerry is gay through a newspaper was awesome as well. “Buck Naked” is a great porn name, and I love the sponge bath callback. Finally, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that” is one of the all-time great catchphrases from a show known for them.

Jordan: I am reminded of The Lego Movie here, because everything is awesome! George thinking Buck Naked is a clever name that nobody else would come up with is awesome – and he’s writing comedies for NBC! Helen calling Jerry, George answering, then George freaking out about his mom is incredible, and I’m so glad we got Estelle on the show already, because that makes it better. What works so much in this episode is just about everything happens as a result of coincidence and perfect (or imperfect) timing, and if done wrong, it’s unbelievable and a bit cheesy, but it’s done perfectly and everything flows seamlessly as a result. Elaine and Kramer are definitely in the back seat for this one, but they are very solid, and really this whole mess is Elaine’s fault.

What Didn’t Work

Justin: It all worked…not that there’s anything wrong with that

Aaron: I thought Jerry was a little weak in the phone conversation mix up. Secretariat is also an extremely dated reference in the opening but which I can’t believe I remembered.

Andrew: The plot relies a lot on coincidence, which gets a bit ridiculous at times. For example, Jerry gets a phone call from Sharon seconds after installing the two-line phone that leads to her overhearing and misunderstanding his sarcastic comment to George, which is a lot of coincidence to pack into one scene. But in an episode this funny, I’m not sure I care all that much.

Jordan: I do think one major logic gap is that Sharon was eavesdropping on the gang in the diner…and she didn’t hear Jerry mention her name just a minute before?

Key Character Debuts

Sharon Leonard, NYU Reporter

Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes

– George bought Jerry two tickets for Guys & Dolls, the musical for his birthday

– “Hey, who do you think is the most unattractive world leader?” – Elaine “Living or all time?” – Jerry “All time.” – Elaine “Well, if it’s all time, then there’s no contest. It begins and ends with Brezhnev.” – Jerry “I dunno. You ever get a good look at DeGaulle?” – Elaine “Lyndon Johnson was uglier than DeGaulle.” – George “I got news for you. Golda Meir could make ’em all run up a tree.” – Elaine

– “I’m not goin’ along. I can just see you in Berlin in 1939 goose-stepping past me: ‘C’mon Jerry, go along, go along…'” – Jerry

– “Y’know I hear that all the time.” – Jerry “Hear what?” – Elaine “That I’m gay. People think I’m gay.” – Jerry “Yeah, you know people ask me that about you, too.” – Elaine “Yeah, ‘cuz I’m single, I’m thin and I’m neat.” – Jerry

– George’s porno name would be Buck Naked

– “Jerry did you wash this pear?”- George “Yeah, I washed it.” – Jerry “It looks like it hasn’t been washed.” – George “So wash it.” – Jerry “You hear the way he talks to me?” – George “You should hear how *my* boyfriend talks to me…” – Sharon

– “Yeah. Actually it was in gym class. I was trying to climb the ropes and Jerry was spotting me. I kept slipping and burning my thighs and then finally I slipped and fell on Jerry’s head. We’ve been close ever since.” – George

– “And do your parents know?” – Sharon “Know what?” – Jerry “My parents? They don’t know what’s goin’ on…” – George

– “Not that there’s anything wrong with that” is first uttered, becoming an iconic catchphrase in pop culture

– “There’s been a big misunderstanding here! We did that whole thing for your benefit. We knew you were eavesdropping. That’s why my friend said all that. It was on purpose! We’re not gay! Not that there’s anything wrong with that…” – Jerry “No, of course not…” – George “I mean that’s fine if that’s who you are…” – Jerry “Absolutely…” – George “I mean I have many gay friends…” – Jerry “My father is gay…” – George

– “Kramer, there may be a problem with the phone, hold on.” – Jerry “There may be a problem with the phone, hold on!” – George “Oh no! Kramer, this phone’s a piece of junk, goodbye!” – Jerry “The phone’s a piece of junk, goodbye!” – Jerry “Oh no! Now she’s heard everything! What are we gonna do?!?” – Jerry “Now she thinks we’re gay, not that there’s anything wrong with it…” – George “No, no, of course not! People’s personal sexual preferences are nobody’s business but their own!” – Jerry

– “Guys & Dolls? Isn’t that a lavish Broadway musical?” – Jerry “It’s Guys & Dolls, not Guys & Guys!” – George

– “I’ve been outed…I wasn’t even in!” – Jerry

– “Within the confines of his fastidious bachelor pad, Seinfeld and Costanza bicker over the cleanliness of a piece of fruit like an old married couple — I told you that pear was washed! – Jerry

– “Ma, it’s not true!” – Jerry “It’s those damn culottes you made him wear when he was five!” – Morty “They weren’t culottes, they were shorts.” – Helen “They were culottes! You bought them in the girl’s department.” – Morty “By mistake! By mistake, Jerry! I’m sorry!” – Helen “It looked like he was wearing a skirt, for crying out loud!” – Morty “Ma, it has nothing to do with the culottes!” – Jerry “Not that there’s anything wrong with that, Jerry.” – Helen

– “Jerry, I can see. He’s so neat and thin. Not that there’s anything wrong with it.” – Estelle

– “She hasn’t seen the article! When she sees it, she’s gonna think — I’m out baby! I’m out!!!!!” – George

– “Extraordinarily gay. Steeped in gayness.” – George

Oddities & Fun Facts

– Jerry gets a two-line phone for his apartment, which is a major novelty

Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)

Justin: I don’t know how they made it through this episode in one piece. No clue how they got through these scenes and lines without laughing to death. This was just pure magic. It had it all. Laugh out loud moments, perfect writing, an iconic, classic, pop culture megahit of a catchphrase and it never slowed down or wasted a second of talking. It is also the fastest 22 minutes you may ever spend doing anything. Season four has been amazing as we churn out another perfect score. This is easily a legit contender for greatest sitcom episode of all time. Final Grade: 10/10

Aaron: An all time memorable episode that is stuffed with great moments and tremendous laughs throughout. I think looking back it’s easy to forget how much of a controversial subject homosexuality was in 1993. Of course it’s not even close to being an issue as Seinfeld tackles it with the class and wit that very few sitcoms ever possessed. Final Grade: 8/10

Andrew: Twenty years after it first aired, and after who-knows-how-many viewings in syndication, this episode still makes me laugh as hard as the first time I saw it. If that doesn’t make it a classic, I don’t know what does. Final Grade: 10/10

Jordan: Echoing what Andrew said, this still makes me laugh a lot. It may not be as iconic as “The Contest”, but it’s pretty darn close and it spawned a catch phrase while dancing around the controversies of being gay in the early 90s in a hilarious way. This is Seinfeld at it’s best. Final Grade: 10/10