Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch – “The Rye” (S7, E11)

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!


Best Character

JT: I will give this to the whole Constanza Family. George was at his scheming best and Frank and Estelle came back on a mission to prove how epic they can be when united. From the tie argument to the questioning of the origins of Merlot to the hen sex to Firestorm, they brought the hot fire. Never change.

Aaron: Look I could say that it’s not only because Frank Costanza doesn’t grasp who’s banging the hen but who am I kidding?

Andrew: I went back and forth on this one; everyone was so good that it’s hard to choose just one. But I’m going with Elaine. That early “I mean, it would be nice” scene just kills me. She’s great at the end, too, soothing John’s fragile ego with a “You just don’t have to try so hard” before ghosting when she realizes he’s no longer worth the effort. Elaine is the best.

Jordan: This one is really tough. I have a hard time when it’s between two people, but here I could go with five or six. I’m going to admit to entering my notes in last and checking out what everyone else said, and deciding to pick someone nobody else did. So I’m giving it to Mrs. Ross! Her wine drinking sass was really good stuff.

Jason: This is another case where everyone in the cast was locked in and I can’t chose just one person. The core four all delivered. Mr. and Mrs. Ross were snobbish assholes much like their daughter. Frank and Estelle were at their finest. Also, John Jermaine, Mable and even gassy Rusty were casted perfectly.

Best Storyline

JT: The rye, far and away. It was a tremendous plot that almost worked but fell just short. Along with it comes Jerry mugging an old woman and Kramer feeding a horse processed spaghetti and meatballs until it shit all over the streets of Gotham. Hard to beat it.

Aaron: It’s only one scene but I LOVE the upper class war versus the lower class war that happened between the Rosses and the Costanzas. Mr. and Mrs. Ross’ cutting sniping at each other is met at every turn by the blunderbuss that is the Costanza’s marriage. I’ve never seen two couples exude the same amount of hate for one another in such spectacularly different ways.

Andrew: I think it has to be the marble rye. It starts off so strong with George and Susan’s parents, particularly her boozy mother and Frank’s epic chicken/hen/rooster bit. Jerry’s “old bag” line is iconic, and I might actually like the carriage ride even more: there are few things in this world I enjoy more than a truly well crafted fart joke. This probably isn’t quite on the level of something like The Contest, but in terms of laughs this storyline is way up there.

Jordan: What makes the rye story so good is it feels very sitcom-y, but doesn’t come off that way. I could see this being a storyline in a show like the Big Bang Theory, only they would sparse it up with, “GREEN LANTERN REFERENCE!” followed by a laughtrack for 45 seconds. Everyone remembers Jerry wrestling it away from the old woman, but George fishing it up is brilliant.

Jason: The rye stuff is so iconic and the tie-ins were superb. One the best plots in the series.

Ethical Dilemma of the Week

JT: If you are a man of his 30s (or maybe 40s) and are just beginning to date a very attractive woman, should you tell her early on that you don’t like to go down on women? Get your shit together, Johnny. And get a haircut too.

Aaron: Is Jerry in the wrong for viciously robbing Happy Gilmore’s grandma? Nope. She’s a liar and a betrayer. She’s banging Shooter McGavin wearing the kiss mask and Ben Stiller should have slit her throat in the nursing home.

Andrew: Is it OK to feed a horse Beef-A-Reeno? No. Even putting the flatulence issue aside, that horse could have gotten really sick. What the hell’s wrong with you, Kramer?

Jordan: Should Jerry be spilling the beans about Elaine’s hot and heavy status to anyone he talks to? Maybe he was just super excited to talk to a black guy. Was it a black guy? In my mind it was a black guy, but I’m not going to go back and watch.

Jason: If you bring something to a dinner party and the host doesn’t put it out, should you take it home with you? In any other situation but this, no. Frank is wound so tight, that he has every right to take this personal. Should you feed a horse canned pasta? Probably not.

Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)

JT: The Rosses and the Costanzas for ever and ever, they shall be united for all of eternity. They can dine over rye and Merlot while watching Firestorm night after night, like a blissful Groundhog Day, and we should be lucky enough to witness just one of their evenings together. Relationship Grade: Going In Fresh/10

Aaron: Damnit Jermaine get down there for Christ’s sake. Relationship Grade: 2/10

Andrew: I can see John’s appeal for Elaine; I’m pretty sure I’ve non-ironically had that same “song about me” thought. But we can all be adults and say that not performing oral sex is a deal breaker, right? I mean, there are valid exceptions to that rule, but “I’m not that into it” isn’t one of them. Relationship Grade: Adding a new number to my repertoire/10

Jordan: John Jermaine is a big, fat Kenny G wannabe douchebag. The only difference? You know Kenny heads south to please the ladies. It’s why he is a star, and Jermaine is slumming it in New York bars. Relationship Grade: Not so spongeworthy/10

Jason: John Jermaine is easy on the eyes. No wonder Laney is hot and heavy for this guy. Too bad he needs a little help “down there.” Savor that Benes beaver, pal. The showdown we have all waited for, the Rosses vs the Costanzas was tremendous and written perfectly. I want an episode with Rusty and Kramer eating Price Club food in his apartment. Relationship Grade: $17.50, you can’t beat that/10

What Worked:

JT: The sponge worthy callback was well done; The brilliant dance around cunnilingus talk is peak Seinfeld; The Price Club scene to open up the show proper is so great, “Lindsey olives” cracks me up every time; The Costanzas return with a bang with the tie argument; Frank’s belt cinch when saying he is going to show the Rosses about taste is iconic Frank; Kramer’s pratfall with the groceries is one of his best; Frank’s deep dive into poultry and sex was amazing, as was his “I like to go in fresh!”; Kramer’s bullshit story about Joe Pepitone and Central Park is so good; Frank taking back the rye and his and Estelle’s indignation in the car; It’s been far too long since Jerry and George hatched a good plot; Elaine slamming the door in George’s face as he says “horsey” and vowing that something awful needs to happen to Jerry; Mrs. Ross’ passive aggressive dig about not having bread; The beef-a-reeno song; Nice revisiting to Schnitzer’s too; Jerry stealing the rye from Mabel is another classic scene; Rusty killing the mood with a giant horse shit; The final scene is about as good as it gets, a true pantheon finish; The payoff to John being terrible at oral sex was a good, ahem, climax to the show

Aaron: George had a tremendous episode but what unfortunately overshadowed by both sets of parents. The image of him being caught fishing a rye bread off the street easily enters the pantheon of greatest Seinfeld moments. As much as I love the Costanzas the Rosses clearly LOATHE one another to the point where a murder is certainly inevitable. Elaine is also fantastic throughout. Her immediate regret when she opens the door to Jermaine’s… umm…neglect is wonderful as is her desperate need for Jerry to “get it” one day. HE HAS TO. We’re also once again treated to perfect Benes as she sneaks out of the jazz club as her boyfriend tanks his set. Kramer fell in the hall and I rejoiced.

Andrew: Pretty much all of it worked for me. George and Estelle with Susan’s parents is comedy gold, culminating in the completely perfect “the rooster has sex with all of ‘em” exchange. Jerry stealing the rye from the old woman is one of the great scenes in the entire series, and Kramer with the horse is right up there with it. And the whole “hot and heavy” storyline has always felt underrated to me. Also on the underrated note, Jerry’s “Nah, I’m gonna be just fine” is one of my absolute favorite lines.

Jordan: Anytime we see the Costanzas is going to fall in the “What worked” category for me. I love the tense dinner scene where you can tell neither set of parents care for the either. Frank stealing the marble rye is not only funny, it leads to the rye fiasco later, so we have Frank to thank for an all time scene. Kramer buying so much bulk food that he can’t even store it in his apartment is typical of him, and I like that he just eats beefaroni as well as feeds it to the horse. Elaine is always fun for me – I particularly like when she tries to play down her sex life. The talk about what John wouldn’t do is fun stuff. Of course the marble rye stuff is an iconic scene that stands out as one of the most memorable in show history.

Jason: Elaine blushing at John during the opening scene. John being sponge-worthy. Elaine telling Jerry that John doesn’t go down on her; “Why not, you’re there.” Kramer’s car packed with price club food. Jerry telling Clyde that Elaine and John are hot & heavy. Frank’s pimp suit.  Estelle’s rant about Frank’s tie. “I’ll show these people something bout taste.” is one of my favorite Frank lines. Kramer’s tumble in the hallway. Cornish game hen; “How hard can it be to kill this thing?” Frank’s chicken, rooster and hen line is an all-timer. Estelle not knowing what Merlot is; “Did they just invent it?” Frank and Mr. Ross ranting about Firestorm; “Still, still I like to go in fresh!” Kramer running off fictional Central Park facts to tourists; Joe Pepitone. Estelle saying Mrs. Ross hits the sauce pretty hard. The Costanza’s rant about not serving cake with coffee. Frank snagging the bread because the Rosses forgot to put it out; “It’s deliberate. Deliberate, I tell ya!” Jerry’s genius idea to send the Rosses on a handsome cab ride with Kramer, so George can replace the bread; “Clip clop, clip clop.” Kramer eating a can of beef-a-reeno with the derby hat on. Elaine slamming the door after George asks if she wants to see the horsey. Kramer feeding Rusty beef-a-reeno and singing; “I’m so keen-o on beef-a-reeno.” Mable not caving when Jerry makes him offers for the bread; “SHUT UP, YOU OLD BAG!” John adding a new number to his repertoire. Rusty letting ’em rip after being fed beef-a-reeno. Reeling the rye of the building. George standing there with the hooked bread; “Schnitzer’s.” John not being able to play a note after going down on Elaine was such a great payoff.

What Didn’t Work

JT: I hate John’s hair; Stop being a dick, Clyde, help the poor guy with his bulk purchases, and stop doing that weird ass pointing move; Jerry blaming the horse stench for his weak throws is a soft excuse, man up Jerome;

Aaron: I’m not a huge fan of the cold open in the club. Strange to enter on smooth jazz instead of insane pops and blurts. What kind of an asshole leaves Elaine unsatisfied? I didn’t love what Kramer had going on. The Price Club story had potential and as funny as his reactions to the gas were I’d like to think that Seinfeld is a little beyond poop jokes.

Andrew: It seems like George is going way overboard trying to cover for his parents. Even if the plan had worked, did he expect them to never mention the marble rye incident again?

Jordan: John Jermaine? Great name. Great hair. Dork. I didn’t like the payoff of him not being able to play anymore after a romp with Benes.

Jason: Come on Clyde, give Kramer a hand with his groceries. If there’s someone I can’t stand more than Susan, it’s her mother. Have another drink, you lush!

Key Character Debuts

– John Jermaine

– Mabel

Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes

– “All right. What are you, outta your mind? Look at this. What did you buy here? You will never be able to finish all this stuff.” – Jerry “Course I will. These are staples.” – Kramer “A four-pound can of black olives? That’s a staple?” – Jerry “Lindsay olives, Jerry.” – Kramer “A forty-eight pack of Eggo waffles? A gallon of barbecue sauce? Ten pounds of cocktail meatballs?”- Jerry “$17.50. You can’t beat that.” – Kramer “Look…look at this can of tuna!” – Jerry “Yeah. Star Kist, Jerry. Most tuna don’t make their cut.” – Kramer “This isn’t for a person. This is for Biosphere 3.” – Jerry

– “I don’t like that tie.” – Estelle “What’s the matter with this tie? I’ve hardly worn it.” – Frank “It’s too thin. They’re wearing wide now.” – Estelle “How do you know what kind of ties they wear?” – Frank “Go to any office building on 7th Avenue and tell me if there’s anyone there wearing a thin tie like that. Go ahead!” – Estelle “Oh, get the hell outta here. 7th Avenue.” – Frank

– “Merlot? I never heard of it. Did they just invent it?” – Estelle

– “Let me understand, you got the hen, the chicken and the rooster. The rooster goes with the chicken. So, who’s having sex with the hen?” – Frank “Why don’t we talk about it another time.” – George “But you see my point here? You only hear of a hen, a rooster and a chicken. Something’s missing!” – Frank “Something’s missing all right.” – Mrs. Ross “They’re all chickens. The rooster has sex with all of them.” – Mr. Ross “That’s perverse.” – Frank

– “Of course, uh, this is Central Park. Uh, this was designed in 1850 by Joe Pepitone. Um, built during the Civil War so the northern armies could practice fighting on…on grass. Oh, yeah. Giddyup. On Rusty!” – Kramer

– “It is a big deal. You’re supposed to serve cake after a meal. I’m sorry. It’s impolite.” – Estelle “Not impolite…it’s stupid, that’s what it is. You gotta be stupid to do something like that!” – Frank “Your father’s absolutely right. We’re sitting there like idiots drinking coffee without a piece of cake!” – Estelle

– “Jerry, I think I bought too much at that price club. I don’t have any room for it all.” – Kramer

– “No! It’s not a good thing! It’s a bad thing! Do you know what this is like? To have no control over a relationship? And – and you feel sick to your stomach all the time? Do you know what that’s like?” – Elaine “No, but I’ve read articles and I must say it, doesn’t sound very pleasant.” – Jerry “You know, one of these days, something terrible is gonna happen to you. It has to!” – Elaine “No. I’m gonna be just fine, but as far as your situation, you’re seeing him tonight so talk to him about it.” – Jerry

– “I’m so keen-o…On Beef-A-Reno…What a delicious cuisine-o…Fit for a king and queen-o!…Yeah. Eat up. I got thirty four more cans.” – Kramer

– “Shut up, you old bag!” – Jerry

– “I’m terribly sorry, Mr. Ross. One never knows how the gastrointestinal workings of the equine are going to function.” – Kramer

– “Wait a second! I never baited a hook with a rye before. Your hook is too small. This is for, like, a muffin. All right. Take it away.” – Jerry

Oddities & Fun Facts

– The gang was last inside Schnitzer’s Bakery in The Dinner Party (S5, E13)

Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)

JT: An easy perfect score here. One of the greatest episodes they ever pieced together as it ticked off all the key Seinfeld boxes: Physical humor, Sexual innuendo for a taboo topic, Beautiful storytelling, Iconic moments that would leak into pop culture, Quick hitting wit and line delivery, Callbacks to past episodes and Costanza madness. This had it all. The final scene is easily one of the best in the show’s history and was such a tremendous payoff to a perfectly botched plan that was almost salvaged in the end. Plus, we got the Costanzas in a complete tour de force. Not one scene felt wasted here and the episode breezed right by. It was all such a perfect plan and it all turned to, ahem, shit. Final Grade: 10/10

Aaron: A fantastic seminal episode that is a better Kramer storyline away from an all time great. As it stands it’s very, very good and they’d be smart to give us more Rosses and Costanzas as we move forward. Final Grade: 8/10

Andrew: I knew going into this episode that it was a good one, but I was still surprised by how much I enjoyed it. That’s pretty much the best case scenario for the rewatch: looking forward to the episode, but forgetting just how much greatness is packed into it. There are times when I feel like this episode is catering directly to me. I mean, if there’s one thing I like more than a really well crafted fart joke, it’s a really well crafted cunnilingus joke. Final Grade: 10/10

Jordan: This is great, and it’s one of the most memorable episodes ever….yet I like The Gum better. I’m not giving it a 10 simply because of the episode that it follows, but it’s pretty darn good. Final Grade: 9/10

Jason: There we have it! One of the best. The main plot was perfect and very well written. The stuff with Elaine and John was risky for 90’s sitcom TV, but the brilliant dialog made it all work. I have no problem calling this a Top 10 episode in the series. Final Grade: 10/10