Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch – “The Secretary” (S6, E9)

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 really enjoyed Jerry and Kramer but I think I am actually going to go with Big Kenny Bania. He was only in a few scenes but he slayed them all yet again. His delivery is so damn perfect and his obsession with wanting to dine with Jerry is so endearing. YOUR NANCY BOY CREAM!

Aaron: Do you go with the guy who can’t go three days without harassing or banging his secretary? Or do you go with a man so naive and innocent that he ends up naked and scaling the walls of a women’s changing room? It’s a tough choice. Like choosing which of my cats to eat. I guess “I’m giving you a raise,” is more iconic so let’s go with George.

Andrew: I liked Kramer the most. He has some of the best lines, including his reaction to Elaine returning the dress (“Good idea”), and his justification for using the women’s dressing room (“There’s nothing in there that I haven’t seen before”). But more importantly, I like his impromptu decision to sell Bania the clothes off his back. A man stranding himself nude in the women’s dressing room with no prearranged plan to get clothes would be a really annoying plot point for any other character, but it works for Kramer, and that counts for something.

Jordan: I was dead set on George, but man did Kramer make a nice push at the end, selling his suit to Bania without an exit strategy. It was a nice effort to catch up, but ultimately not enough-George wins this one with the secretary story. His motives were pure and noble, but his mind is wretched and disgusting. He sleeps with the secretary anyway, and then flips over her getting paid more than he does. He’s really running the gambit of emotions this week.

Jason: The K-Man gets the duke from me this week. The return of his Kavorka in getting Uma Thurman’s number. His negotiation with Bania about selling his pimp suit. All topped off with the pay off at the end with him walking down the street in Helen’s fur coat with no pants.

Best Storyline

JT: I will go with the dry cleaner stuff since the storyline concept was really pretty inspired. Plus the payoff at the end when Jerry yanks the coat off that fat hot dog munching wife of Willie.

Aaron: Since I went with George above I’ll go with “Kramer strands himself by selling the clothing off his back.” Imagine you’re poor Elaine, jamming herself into a plethora of overpriced dresses while seeing a tall naked man attempting to make his way over the partition. Imagine you’re Jerry, trying to make sense of the absurdity of it all.

Andrew: I think it’s the dry cleaner storyline. It’s not a classic, but it covers some of the best parts of the episode, and the idea of a dry cleaner borrowing his customer’s clothes is pretty ingenious.

Jordan: I’ll throw a sympathy vote to Elaine’s battle against Barney’s mirrors that are laced with lies. I actually thought every story this time around was fun, and am fine with picking basically anything here. So why Elaine? She looked truly ridiculous in that first dress.

Jason: Easily Wille and Donna wearing customers dry cleaning out in public.

Ethical Dilemma of the Week

JT: Should you hire a secretary that is ugly so you won’t have sex with her? If you are single? Hell no! Georgie Boy only needed to pull that stunt if he was trying to protect himself while in a relationship. But he is always looking to score and this was a potential way to land a hot tomato. Of course, the odds of him nailing someone like Ada are much higher than any of the other candidates that his strategy may have paid off in the end anyway.

Aaron: Is moisturizer girl’s stuff? I can’t believe that in a our gender neutral word this little piece of dialogue hasn’t permanently been stricken from the DVD. How dare they? How dare Elaine shame Kramer for having the good sense to moisturize his hands. Every single person who collaborated on this script should be shot in the face with some kind of experimental fish gun.

Andrew: So everything said in the throes of passion is a verbal contract? That sounds like a terrible idea. You’ve got to play that off as a joke, George.

Jordan: If you are walking out of the movies and there is a large line, should you openly discuss the major twist and ending? No. You’re a monster if you do that. Elaine deserves every ugly dress she buys!

Jason: Is it right for a dry cleaner to wear their customers clothes out in public? HELL NO!

Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)

JT: The tension between Jerome and Bania continues here as Kenny is still trying his best to woo Jerry via nice dates at fancy restaurants. Jerry is wavering a bit but still adamant about not going to the next level. Relationship Grade: 2 (Mendys)/10

Aaron:Ted Danson and Mary Steenbergen really seem to have stumbled on something that works. Relationship Grade: 10/10

Andrew: I love the chemistry between Ada and George. Even the classic “put glasses on a woman to make her unattractive” trope couldn’t keep them apart. Relationship Grade: It’s definitely doable/10 

Jordan: Bania. Uma. Uma. Bania. Unlike that scumbag Jerry, the wonderful Ms. Thurman probably enjoyed the swordfish and laughed so hard ovaltine came out of her nose. Relationship Grade: Their couple name is Umia/10

Jason: George’s plan of hiring the less than attractive Ada blowing up in his face was brilliant. He thought he’d be able to focus more by hiring her, that is until he realized she was doable. Relationship Grade: $2.25/10

What Worked:

JT: George referring to a hot woman as a “tomato” made me laugh; I also loved George’s brutal honesty during the job interviews; The Demi pronunciation conversation was good; Kramer’s “good idea” was awesome; George falling for Ada after rejecting the tomatoes was a nice twist; Elaine spoiling the movie outside the theatre was awesome; Kramer meeting Uma Thurman is so random; “I’m giving you a raise!” was fantastic as was Jerry questioning his authorization; Jerry’s “it’s almost a week” in response to George saying Ada worked there for three days; A dry cleaner wearing people’s clothes is a pretty damn good idea for a story; Kenny Bania returning and immediately getting back into the suit game was awesome and his negotiating with the K-Man was well done; Kramer selling the suit he was wearing with no backup plan is perfect booking; The random guy telling Elaine she could never pull the dress off; Bania continues to kill it throughout the whole episode; Mendy’s; Jerry stealing back his mother’s coat and Kramer wearing it on the street and then Bania getting the date with Uma was a nice payoff to everything

Aaron: I’m unsure why I find George saying, “I could go the tomato route,” when discussing hiring a hot secretary funny, but I do. All of Kramer and George is completely wonderful here, but a special distinction should be given to George blatantly telling women they can’t have the job due to their beauty. Elaine’s fall from sanctimoniously declaring “That’s preposterous,” to sheepishly admitting she stained the dress and crying is perfect Benes. As soon as Kenny Bania entered the scene I knew we were in for some unreason and I was not disappointed. He basically is the textbook definition of “What the fuck’s wrong with this guy?” Above all else the final shot of Kramer strutting down the street wearing nothing but a fur coat over his socks and shoes is a true thing of beauty.

Andrew: The best part of this episode is Larry David’s Steinbrenner impression, which is one of my all-time favorite things. George is great in those scenes as well, with his slow, tentative walk toward the desk when asking for a favor, and the defeated arm gestures when he realizes he’s not getting what he wants. The boss-secretary flirting is off the charts, too, and the sex scene is pretty funny. I imagine the writers chose Uma Thurman as Kramer’s love interest just to give him the opportunity to say her name in a funny way, and I thank them for it. The return of Bania is also really good, and I enjoy all the callbacks to his last appearance.

Jordan: As I said earlier, I enjoyed everyone’s storyline this time around. Jerry’s suspicion of his dry cleaner wearing his clothes was completely warranted, and I like that he busted both of them. Kramer selling his suit to Bania then not taking it back because it was covered in moisturizer was fitting for his character. The moisturizer ruined the very pants he was trying to buy back! Elaine buying dresses that made her look gorgeous in the store only to look like a frumpy weirdo outside was good, and I liked her defeated admission to the employee when she was caught with salt stains. And of course, George hires an uggo (who isn’t really ugly at all, especially compared to George!) and can’t go three days without having sex with her. Beyond that, I loved Steinbrenner and Bania as always, and I got a big kick out of the dry cleaner’s wife wolfing down a hot dog in Helen’s fur coat.

Jason: George’s line about Elaine’s arms looking like something hanging in a Kosher deli. Barney’s using skinny mirrors to make people look better in their clothes. Jerry seeing Wille walking into the movies with his jacket on. Ada shouting out instructions to George on how to undress her; I’M GIVING YOU A RAISE! The return of Big Stein. Jerry telling George that he’s so grateful to have sex that he’ll shout anything out. Jerry suggesting that George have sex with Ada again to tell her she can’t get the raise. Jerry finding Wille’s movie stub in the jacket pocket. Jerry confronting Wille about the stub; SEEN ANY GOOD MOVIES LATELY, WILLE?!?! Kramer’s amazing polka dot shirt; WAIT ‘TIL THAT UMA SMELLS THIS UVA. Bania hitting up Barney’s to find a new suit was an excellent reference to the ending of “The Soup”. Elaine getting caught wearing the Calvin Klein dress outside. Bania wanting his money back because Kramer’s “Nancy-boy cream leaked all over the pockets.” Jerry negotiating with Bania to get the dry cleaning ticket back; YOU WANT TO GO TO MENDY’S, I’LL TAKE YOU TO MENDY’S! Bania with the balls to ask Jerry to go to Mendy’s twice. Jerry catching Donna in his mother’s fur coat. Jerry’s bickering at Bania at Mendy’s about going to another place for their second meal.

What Didn’t Work

JT: What happened to Jerry’s old dry cleaner?; I hate the way Ada talks and pronounces Costanza; The Barney’s saleslady is a real piece of work

Aaron: What’s with the bitchy staff and customers at the department store? Elaine’s dress, funky mirrors or no, is a war crime. It looks like a paper cut up snowflake that a child makes in kindergarten.

Andrew: There’s not much payoff to George’s storyline; his final scene with Steinbrenner is great, but it doesn’t bring much conclusion to anything. The payoff with Bania getting Uma’s number is pretty weak, too. He memorizes phone numbers from random slips of paper and just calls them? I guess I admire the gumption, but that’s not great plot-wise. And what’s with Jerry’s hatred of menu specials? Specials are great.

Jordan: Once again, it’s weird that George Costanza is supposed to be a character who is unlucky with women, yet continually sleeps with them and they are almost always out of his league. It was funny, but I wonder if her rejecting him would have played out better. It’s also odd when we don’t have any scenes at Monk’s.

Jason: Donna shoving a hot dog down her fat throat while wearing Helen’s fur coat. Shouldn’t Barney’s have security tags on all of their clothes so that they’re alarmed if someone tries to walk out of the store?

Key Character Debuts

Willie the Dry Cleaner

Ada the Secretary

Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes

– “Well I am actually going to have a secretary and I get to do the interview.” – George “That’s incredible. Six months ago you were taking messages for your mother.” – Jerry

– “Whoa, this is a beauty. Great cut. It’s probably very flattering.” – Willie “Oh yes, it really accentuates my bust line.” – Jerry

– “You’re luscious. You’re ravishing. I would give up red meat just to get a glimpse of you in a bra.” – George

– “I’m telling you Jerry, having a secretary is incredible. I don’t know why I didn’t have one before.” – George “Because you didn’t have a job?” – Jerry

– “You arms look like something hanging in a kosher deli.” – George

– “Oh I’m returning this dress to Barney’s.” – Elaine “Good idea.” – Kramer

– “Just a quick sidebar here, are you in anyway authorized to give raises?” – Jerry “Not that I’m aware of, no.” – George

– “Look at the stitching. This is old world craftsmanship.” – Kramer “300 dollars.” – Bania “Sold. Follow me into the dressing room.” – Kramer “You throw the shirt in?” – Bania “Bania, you’re killing me.” – Kramer “Hey that’s the women’s dressing room.” – Bania “There’s nothing in there that I haven’t seen before.” – Kramer

– “Yes, In fact, her mother is in the hospital right now. It’s some kind of a Diverticulitis.” – George “I had a bout of that myself one time, knocked me right on my ass.” – Steinbrenner

– ” Kramer, I want my money back for this suit. You’re nancy-boy cream leaked all over the pockets. Suits ruined.” – Bania

– “Can we go back to Mendy’s?” – Bania “You want to go to Mendy’s, I’ll take you to Mendy’s.” – Jerry “Twice? I wanna go twice.” – Bania “All right let’s be reasonable, Bania. I’m taking you out for a nice dinner. All I want is a little ticket in that pocket. I think it’s a pretty good deal.” – Jerry “Two Mendys.” – Bania

Oddities & Fun Facts

– Jerry referencing Kramer’s kavorka is a callback to The Conversion (S5, E11)

– Newsradio’s Vicki Lewis portrays Ada

– Jerry and Bania discussing dinner at Mendy’s is a callback to The Soup (S6, E7)

Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)

JT: I liked this one much more than I remember thanks to some really sharp dialogue from the whole crew and a killer showing from Bania. The whole dry cleaner story was really funny and Kramer’s Barney’s escapades were well done too. George and Ada were funny but all of that felt a bit jammed in and didn’t quite have room to breathe. There are definitely plenty of laughs stuffed into this one but it slots in just under the highest level episode for me. Final Grade: 7/10

Aaron: I laughed a lot during this one. It has at least two solid iconic moments, and strong performance all around. Fantastic stuff here. Final Grade: 8/10

Andrew: This is a solid episode, with some great clip show material, particularly Kramer in the dressing room, and the group’s defeated walk out of Barney’s. But the storylines aren’t the best, and I found the conclusion pretty unsatisfying. It’s an enjoyable watch, but clearly not one of the best. Final Grade: 6/10

Jordan: Unlike the pea soup at Mendy’s, this was NOT the best episode in town. It wasn’t bad, but nothing had me rolling, and nothing stands out as ultra memorable. A fairly weak ending hurts it a bit too. Final Grade: 6/10

Jason: This episode as a whole didn’t hold up as well as I remembered. It was great to see Bania and Big Stein back. Two of the best secondary characters in the series. The dry cleaning stuff was domination, but everything else kind of fell flat. Overall, this was slightly above average. Final Grade:  6/10