Wednesday, January 18, 2012

SEINFELD - Season 1, Episode 2 - The Robbery

"The Robbery"
Filmed: March 6, 1990
Aired: June 7, 1990
Nielsen rating: 13.6
Audience share: 24
Directed: Tom Cherones
Writer: Matt Goldman (1st episode not written by David & Seinfeld)

For all his narcissism and pettiness, the character Jerry Seinfeld is a pretty decent guy to his friends and family. Jerry returns from a weekend of doing stand-up in Minneapolis to find his apartment has been burgled, despite Elaine's house-sitting, and mainly because Kramer left the door wide open when he popped in to borrow a spatula. Jerry rants at Kramer for a minute or so, but when Kramer vows to track down the crooks, Jerry stops him. “Don’t investigate. Don’t pay me back. It was a mistake.” I think even Tim Tebow would moan about leaving the door wide open for a day or so.

The robbery finally convinces Jerry to heed George's advice (and Elaine's pestering - she wants to move into Jerry's apartment to get away from her annoying roommate) to look for a new apartment. The trio visits one together and are dazzled. But after Jerry declares that he is going to move, George admits that, after seeing the place, he would also like the apartment. They argue. They flip a coin. They "choose" for it (an odds/evens finger game). Jerry wins. But with George still unhappy, Jerry decides he can't take the apartment; George won't be able to come over because he'll just sit there moping. George, apparently for similar reasons, refuses it, too.

How can Jerry be so gracious to Kramer and George in this episode, but driven to the point of cutting off a longtime relationship in "Male Unbonding?" In all three cases, Jerry is making the decision that will make him feel better. Justice is not served by dismissing the value of the property lost in the break-in that was a directly result of Kramer's mistake. Nor is fairness enforced in Jerry eventually deciding to ignore the coin flip (George's complaint about the coin hitting the table is pretty lame) and the choose results. Jerry would rather have a smooth relationship with Kramer and George then receive the compensation he is fairly due in both cases.

In all of these cases, Jerry compromises justice for a result that best serves his therapeutic needs. He just wants to feel okay, and the easiest way to do that with his close friends, Kramer and George, is to just dismiss of the source of tension. Forgiving Kramer is justifiable; Kramer wouldn't be able to pay him back very easily anyway. But the end of the episode reveals the folly of Jerry's therapeutic mindset. The apartment is sold to someone else. He and George both lose the opportunity to move to a great place because they were each too hung up on the other's regret.

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