Episode 1: “The Ex-Girlfriend”
Original Air Date: January 23, 1991
Written by: Larry David & Jerry Seinfeld
Directed: Tom Cherones
Opening Monologue: Jerry talks about “excessive lane changers,” the people that you see on the road going from one lane to another. I’m not typically one of these people, but I have been known to change a lane or two getting somewhere. On the freeway I mostly stay in the middle or “fast” lane.
Jerry and George sit in a car, George going on about his girlfriend and how he has to break-up with her. He goes down a list of things, including that she said “I love you” to him and he was hesitant to reciprocate, that she called him and that he’s “a nice guy” so that was a catalyst for them dating, and that he didn’t want to meet her friends but seemed to have met all of them, all the while Jerry is accenting every claim with words of “encouragement.” Then George adjusts, and Jerry tells him he should see his chiropractor, that he’s the best. George is skeptical. So a couple things here. One, I’ve never been in this situation where I talked to someone about having to break-up with someone in these terms. I’ve discussed relationships with my friends but it’s usually the positive stuff. Two, this line George has about “everyone says their guy (chiropractor) is the best” is absolutely true. In fact, I remember a few months ago the boss at my job said the exact same thing about the guy he sees. Elaine shows up and asks to sit up front, because she doesn’t want to be left out of the conversation. She then asks George to sit in the middle, to which George replies “boy. boy. girl isn’t a good look.” Elaine calls him out, saying “You’re a little homophobic.” George replies “is it that obvious?” This is so interesting to watch today. Homophobia is a real problem that has led to people’s lives being ruined and has even led to people’s lives being taken. Now look, this episode is over 30 years old at this point and I’m not making excuses but it was a very different world then. What I think is interesting is how George’s insecurities come out in this moment, and how those insecurities will manifest over the series.
With the three in the car, Elaine described her neighbor and how their relationship went from pleasant conversations to nothing and how it’s bothering her. George tells her to confront him about it. She asks if he would do it if he was in the situation and he responds “if I was a different person, yes.” Classic George line there.
Jerry talks on the phone but has the wrong number. He asks the person to confirm the number but he hangs up instead. He dials the number again and gets the same person who hangs up a second time. I don’t make many calls but this has happened to me in the past. Kramer comes in with a cantaloupe and tells Jerry to taste it. After pushing it, Jerry tastes it and says it’s very good. Kramer makes the case for getting fruit at Joe’s, even saying that if you don’t like a piece of fruit you can take it back. The idea of taking a piece of fruit that you’ve already taken a bite of back to the store is both hilarious and horrifying to me in this day and age. George then bursts in and tells the tale of his break-up, but qualifies it with the fact that he left books at her place. He asks Jerry to get the books, and Jerry has a great line about putting books on shelves like trophies and “what do you need it for, after you read it?” The delivery of this line is perfection that only can come from Jerry Seinfeld.
Jerry meets the ex-girlfriend at Monk’s her bringing the books. After Marlene tells a story of her jumping into a pool with all her clothes on, she proposes that the two (her and Jerry) stay friends and Jerry agrees. We cut to George and Jerry at Jerry’s chiropractor’s office. Jerry complains about Marlene. George goes into to see the chiropractor. Then we go to a stand-up bump where Jerry is talking about waiting rooms at doctor’s offices. This is a very 90s sort of thing, because he talks about magazines in the waiting room, but these days most people just look at their phones. The line about getting your name called is true though, that feeling of leaving the waiting room. I was always nervous going from the waiting room to the actual doctor’s room. George comes out and is mad about the bill. $75 bucks for nothing. He says “what am I seeing Sinatra?” This is incredibly relatable. Of course, the discourse in healthcare is never going away and we will be paying crazy amounts of money for healthcare that should be free… so it’s nice to see George freaking out cause we are all George in that moment.
Back at his apartment, Jerry slices up a cantaloupe. Kramer comes in and asks him about it. Kramer tastes it and says “it stinks.” He then proceeds to gather it up to take it back to the supermarket. Then Marlene calls and leaves a steamy message. Kramer asks about it and Jerry has a call back to his conversation with George in the car earlier in the episode. Definitely one of the best writing moments for the series so far for me. Elaine then talks about the neighbor that ignored her and confronts him. This inspires Jerry to talk to George about Marlene.
At Monk’s, Jerry tells George that he wants to date Marlene, and George doesn’t care. What he does care about is that Jerry paid the rest of his doctor bill with the chiropractor. George then swallows a fly and thinks he will die.
Jerry sits with Marlene in the front seat of his car. He asks her to come up, and she tells him she doesn’t want to and that their relationship isn’t going to work out. Jerry asks why, and she tells him she saw his act and didn’t like it. Jerry pleads with her to watch him on a different night. She can’t be bothered. I love the idea of breaking up with someone because you don’t like what they do for a living. It’s so shallow!
Jerry’s closing monologue is about how women care about what the men they date do for a living. I don’t know if that’s true, but again, the idea of it mattering is funny to me.
Next Episode: The Pony Remark