“The Pony Remark”
First Script Read: Wed, Oct 24, 1990
Filmed: Tue, Oct 30, 1990
Aired: January 30, 1991
Nielsen rating: 10.7 (15.3 million watched)
Audience share: 16
Directed: Tom Cherones
Writer: Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld
Jerry's link to his family is through his parents' generation. We almost never meet any relatives his age. We certainly never meet his cousin, Jeffrey, the son Uncle Leo is always bragging about. (Leo makes his first appearance in this episode.)
Throughout the series, the humor of Jerry's familial relations hinges on generational difference. The show often used the stand-up segments to draw attention to this dynamic, most memorably with Jerry's "old people backing out of driveways" bit. This episode begins with a stand-up segment featuring jokes about Jerry's parents moving to Florida, and the boring awkwardness of family conversation. "...I wanted to hear a little about that Hummel collection, Aunt Rose!"
It is in such a boring, awkward situation that Elaine and Jerry begin ranting humorously about ponies, until Jerry makes the remark that may or may not have killed poor Manya. "I hate anyone who ever had a pony growing up!" Jerry declares to the table of his relatives. "I had a pony! cries Manya, horrified.
It's the sort of interaction that could have been smoothed over, or even immediately laughed at if Jerry was among peers. But Manya is the oldest person there. Plus, she's a Polish immigrant, so there is an even wider cultural gap. Jerry tries to backtrack. He tries to apologize. But the gap has been breached. Manya storms out of the room. The next day she dies.