Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch – “The Virgin” (S4, E10)

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: I have to go with Jerry here. Elaine almost nabbed it because of how flawless she was throughout the Marla stuff, but Jerry made me laugh out loud throughout as he has gotten really damn good at nailing his quick wit zingers. The delivery here was really fantastic and he was the center of all the madness throughout the episode. Nod of appreciated to George too for his scheming and great switch in attitude after Susan got fired, going from empathetic to ecstatic to depressed all in under two minutes.

Aaron:  It’s Georgie-Boy! Of course as soon as he has a girlfriend he is immediately filled with a regret that tears him apart inside. He can devise all the David Letterman plans he wants, but all it takes is one of his countless moments of insensitivity to set his world right. Our world is set right when the two women laugh in his face when he brags about being a sitcom writer. THAT’S actually his gift, not sitcom writing.

Andrew: In a bit of an upset, I’ll go with Elaine. She doesn’t have a ton of screen time, but this episode is a prime example of why she’s one of my favorite TV characters. The diaphragm story is her most well-known contribution here, and it deserves all the attention it gets, but her later scene with Marla is the one that gets me. Elaine makes the executive decision to take Marla under her wing and give her “the straight dope”, and starts explaining all the various indignities and nonsense women put up with from men. When Marla wonders at how good sex must be to be worth all that, Elaine responds with an unimpressed “Eh.” I don’t think the human condition has ever been captured more perfectly. Elaine is the best.

Jordan: I love when everyone is solid, but it makes this part of the writeup more difficult. I think in a close race, I give it to Jerry this time out. Elaine was a close second, and George and Kramer were perfectly fine. But I think Jerry plays well off everyone here. Jerry and George have been golden together for a while now, but he has chemistry with Marla, the NBC execs, and of course Elaine and Kramer. George does get the pick for best moment, when he showed Jerry how easily he could lie his way out of the meeting.

Best Storyline

Justin: George trying to dump Susan will become a running on and off story for a while, so it was great to see it in its infancy here. Poor Susan. All she does is love. All George does is destroy. I will give an honorable mention to Kramer’s TV viewing as well. It wasn’t much, but his enthusiasm and questioning was a nice backdrop to everything melting down around him.

Aaron:  I’m a sucker for all the storylines where Jerry and George are writing their pilot. They’ve procrastinated to the point that they have to spew out the first idea that pops into George’s head and incredibly it works. I’m sure most writers (most artists for that matter) when dealing with big Corporations have all felt the horrible penetration of prostituting yourself for an idea you abhor. Jerry hates that butler idea and of course the execs love it. Their lazy writing has been a great through line which intersected nicely with George trying to pawn off Susan on Dave.

Andrew: I’m excluding the sitcom pilot here, since that’s been going on all season, and I don’t count Marla being a virgin as a “story”, so I’ll go with George trying to get out of dating Susan. That certainly has the most dramatic tension, with George trying to scheme his way out of the relationship without losing the network deal in the process. Like the best George storylines, it starts with a relatable idea (not wanting a girlfriend unless you don’t have one), but takes it to such an absurd extreme that you can’t help but feel like a good person by comparison. And on top of that, he gets what he wants, but single life isn’t all he thought it would be. Good stuff.

Jordan: George wanting to use his title as a writer to get dates, despite having a girlfriend. Jerry’s breaking down of his situation was terrific, letting George realize if he gets a date and loses Susan, he loses the title he uses to get dates. Just a nice story throughout that involves some classic George scheming and a typical Costanza ending.

Ethical Dilemma of the Week

Justin: Should Elaine really have had to apologized for talking about her diaphragm in front of Marla? Marla is obviously a virgin by choice, so it isn’t like she should be jealous and angry over it. I guess you could say she was embarrassed, but how would Elaine possibly have known? Give me a break!

Aaron:  At what point are we just going to say enough is enough with all these bullshit jobs that people don’t need. Do we really need someone to organize our closets??? Does this woman actually make enough money to live in Manhattan based on putting hooks on someone’s wall? You may not have clicked on this link to hear this but we shouldn’t need people for that! I’m putting my foot down. IT’S ENOUGH! For every filibuster about a lack of jobs there seems to be a closet organize or a guy outside the strip club enticing you to come in. I don’t need any more enticement! There’s already a picture of a naked woman, you think I need a fat guy with a beard telling me there’s girls inside. I know there’s girls inside! I know how to organize my closet!!!! I can put on my own pants!!!

Andrew: Should Susan have gotten fired for dating George? I understand it’s a conflict of interest and all, but losing her job seems a bit extreme; isn’t a suspension and sexual harassment training the proper response for a first time offense?

Jordan: I’m not sure this is really a dilemma since the answer is obvious, but if you are in a relationship, you probably shouldn’t actively seek out opportunities to date other people. George may be hilarious and great, but let’s never forget that he’s a total scumbag.

Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)

Justin: George and Susan continue to dominate the season and the hits just keep on coming. Can their love survive? Time will tell. And go get her, Jerry. Show her the way. Relationship Grade: Kiss Is On My List/10

Aaron:  So let’s recap as we eulogize George and Susan: She gets vomited on, has her family cabin burned down, finds out her father was a homosexual and loses her job at NBC. If only she’d left it there… Imagine, when she goes back it gets worse than that…Relationship Grade: at least -4/10…at least…

Andrew: Much like George, I don’t know if I’d want the pressure of dating a virgin. As for Susan, she probably should have taken the hint after her firing and never seen George again. Relationship Grade: 3/10

Jordan:  George and Susan have a sad ending, though things will get much sadder down the road. Jerry and Marla don’t seem to last either. SAVE US DAVID PUDDY.  Relationship Grade: 1/10

What Worked

Justin: I am enjoying the continuous stalling on script writing; Jerry mocking George’s ski ticket made me laugh; The introductions with Marla and Stacey were well done, as was the Berlin stuff; Very good debate about Susan and George’s status; George’s Letterman scheme was tremendous; The timing on Marla revealing her secret offset by Elaine’s diaphragm story was so good; Kramer running over for the Chinese order always makes me chuckle; George only being worried about the food after Ping gets in an accident is perfect; The meta stuff with the pilot idea is a nice nod to fans of the show; The fact that the execs love the butler idea is a nice dig at the mentality of the TV business; George’s reactions over Susan’s firing was tremendous, as was him approaching Letterman and then using the TV gig to hit on women and failing was Vintage Constanza

Aaron: One of the things Seinfeld always does well is spell out the rules for social situations. I love how George and Jerry break down all the ways in which Susan is George ‘s girlfriend. There’s also a really fabulous juxtaposition later on when George is hearing the news of Susan’s firing while Kramer is killing it at Jeopardy. The virgin talk was great and it was extremely smart to have Marla confess she’d never been with anyone only to have the opposite of a virgin burst in the door. George trying to sell his back injury or the loss of a loved one has always made me laugh. We also are treated to the incredibly insensitive moment of worrying about food over the well being of a human, and Jerry dismissing Marla’s profession as soon as he hears she has a boyfriend. (Because her profession is rubbish) Kramer’s pretty great in a limited role. The self-referential way in which Jerry sums up the plot of the episode “Elaine was apologizing to a virgin when she jaywalked and hit a Chinese food delivery guy, ” is something that most other sitcoms couldn’t get away with without sounding too cutesy. Also, the execs were right: those collars are ALWAYS funny.

Andrew: I love the relationship/dating humor in this one. The discussion Jerry and George have about whether Susan has reached “girlfriend” status is a classic, as is George’s poignant lament: “Once you can get a girlfriend, you don’t want a girlfriend, you just want more girlfriends.” His reasoning for not wanting to date a virgin (“I wanna be forgotten”) is spot-on as well. As I mentioned earlier, I love Elaine in this episode; she is so cheerfully jaded, and I admire her willingness to tell the diaphragm story to a complete stranger. George scheming to pawn Susan off on Letterman was pretty good, and the look on her face when she hears his name is fantastic. I enjoyed the opening scene, with the introduction routine, Jerry giving George the wing man signal, and the absurd Berlin Wall lie. Outside of the relationship stuff, the return of Ping was nice to see, and the executives hating the “Chinese Restaurant” episode but loving the butler idea (“Those collars are funny!”) was amazing.

Jordan: Really good focus on relationships here, as I like Jerry grilling George about dates and what is in his apartments, coming to the conclusion that he IS, in fact, in a relationship. Kramer and the TV was a nice way to keep Kramer involved, and I liked him bursting into the apartment when Jerry called him. His line about not wanting a big flat noodle was really funny, even if it was just random. Marla’s reveal was nice, and Elaine coming in just a second later was a nice way to avoid having Jerry react. Elaine was great throughout, giving Marla the “straight dope” on men and sex. Marla then asking Jerry if he wanted to leave his own apartment was funny. I also liked that Jerry pitched “The Chinese Restaurant” to zero response from the NBC execs, but George’s butler idea was met with roars of laughter. George was great in NBC: faking an injury, chasing down Letterman, cracking jokes and getting Susan fired.

What Didn’t Work

Justin: George continues to disrespect the wonderful Susan; Jerry and Marla making out was really awkward looking

Aaron: I never really liked the Snapple bit. Was it product placement? If it was it’s pretty shitty product placement as we never see the damn product. I wish there had been more Elaine and Kramer in this one and the episode suffers a little for it.

Andrew: It’s a bit hard to believe someone as attractive as Marla is still a virgin. Maybe that goofy cameo necklace thing is scaring guys off. Kramer was good in his scenes, but I feel like he deserves more than a “ordering Chinese food and watching TV” storyline.

Jordan: I thought some of Kramer’s “Jeopardy” answers were stupid. You can tell they were going for outrageous sounding answers for a laugh, but it didn’t work for me.

Key Character Debuts

– Marla The Virgin

Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes

– “Let me ask you something. When’s the last time you went skiing?” – Jerry “About six years ago.” – George “I think you can take the lift ticket off your jacket now.” – Jerry

– George’s endless quest to break up with Susan officially begins

– “Let me ask you this. Is there any Tampax in your house?” – Jerry “Yeah.” – George “Well, I’ll tell you what you’ve got here.” – Jerry “What?” – George “You got yourself a girlfriend.” – Jerry

– “You know, it’s a very interesting situation. Here you have a job that can get you girls. But, you also have a relationship. But if you try and get rid of the relationship so you can get the girls, you lose the job. You see the irony?” – Jerry

– “Why don’t you go out? It’s nice out.” – Jerry “Oh, no. There’s nothing out there for me.” – Kramer “There’s weather.” – Jerry “Weather? I don’t need weather. Weather doesn’t do it for me.” – Kramer

– “So your boyfriend never came back from Berlin.” – Jerry “Never came back.” – Marla “Oh, you must have been devastated being left for a wall.” – Jerry

– “I just wanted to return your tape.” – Elaine “Oh, thanks a lot, two weeks late. Now that costs me thirty-five dollars to see Havana.” – Jerry

– “I was talking to this guy, you know, and I just happened to throw my purse on the sofa. And my diaphragm goes flying out. So I just froze, you know, ahh! Staring at my diaphragm. You know, it’s just lying there. So then, this woman, the one who sold me this hair thing, she grabbed it before the guy noticed, so. I mean, big deal, right? So I carry around my diaphragm, who doesn’t? Yeah, like it’s a big, big secret that women carry around their diaphragms. You never know when you’re gonna need it, right?” – Elaine

– “Was I being anti-virgin?” – Elaine

– “I don’t think I could do it. You know, they always remember the first time. I don’t want to be remembered. I wanna be forgotten.” – George “You need a little pioneer spirit. You know, you don’t have any of that Lewis and Clark in you.” – Jerry “You know, sometimes those guys don’t make it back.” – George

– “I’m gonna get a Chow Fung.” – George

– “My car’s totaled. It’s all his fault and now, he has absolutely no money. There is no way that he can pay me. So the judge decrees that he becomes my butler.” – George

– “Hey, you watchin’ Oprah?” – Kramer

– “A month and a half we had. We did nothing. I can’t believe we put it off until today and then we couldn’t do anything because Elaine runs out to apologize to a virgin, crosses against a light, and knocks over a Chinese delivery boy. Now we’re gonna make fools of ourselves, we got nothing. You’re not even in show business. I gotta reputation. You drag me into the sewer with you. I’ve been on TV buddy boy. You know how fast word spreads in show business? It’s like that, like that! One bad impression, you’re outta the business!” – Jerry

– “Where’s Russell?” – Jerry “He, uh, had to go to LA. There’s a problem on the set of Blossom.” – Rita “Oh, poor Blossom.” – Jerry

– “This is great! He fired her! This is incredible, he fired her. I’m out, baby! I’m out!” – George “Why did he fire her?” – Jerry “Because I kissed her in the meeting. Russell found out, he fired her over the phone. Finally, my stupidity pays off!” – George

– “Oh, this is unbelievable. I’m stuck. Every time I think I’m out, they pull me back in.” – George

– “Listen, I wouldn’t put too much stock into what Elaine has to say about relationships. She comes from a broken home, and I mean that literally. A tree fell on her roof and cracked the whole structure. Her parents got along beautifully, but her house was in bad shape.” – Jerry

– “I was just givin’ her the straight dope.” – Elaine “More like a dope was giving it to her straight. Another cup of coffee with you, she’ll wind up in a convent.” – Jerry

– “Yeah, since she met him she’s been vomited on, her family cabin’s been burned down, she learned her father’s a homosexual, and she got fired from a high paying network job. Yeah, they had a real good thing going.” – Elaine

Oddities & Fun Facts

– George skies

Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)

Justin: This episode felt a bit hacked together. Like they had a whole bunch of different random story ideas and just mashed them into one episode. That said, the dialogue and delivery completely saved and carried it from potential mess to very good. I really enjoyed Jerry as the center of all the madness, dashing out one liners like a bitter narrator. Elaine’s scenes with Marla were very good as well. This is the type of episode that would have crashed a couple of seasons ago, but thanks to the strength and comfort of the cast, it ended being pretty damn good. Final Grade: 7/10

Aaron: I was hoping for classic going in here and what I got was a very solid episode which has some funny moments but nothing that would rocket it to legendary status. I do like that they’re telling a consistent story with seeds planted for future episodes, but this one fell a little flat compared to the rest of the season. Perhaps this is the first step climbing away from Karate Clown Joe Davola. Final Grade: 7/10

Andrew: This isn’t an all-timer. The story’s not that great, Kramer is under-utilized, and the episode lacks a signature, fall-over-laughing moment. But those two Elaine scenes always stay with me. I’m probably overrating this one a bit, but I don’t care. Final Grade: 8/10

Jordan: Like Aaron, I was thinking of this as a classic, but it’s really more of a classic episode title I guess. What’s funny is the show about nothing is really strong at callbacks and continuity at this point, so while the episodes may be self contained and about everyday mundane situations, the fact that it’s about these people and we’re really getting to know them well now is why even a standard episode like this one works. I really did dig George at NBC though. Great, great stuff. 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.