Friday, February 3, 2012

SEINFELD - Season 2, Episode 5 - The Apartment

“The Apartment”

First Script Read: Wed, Jan 9, 1991
Filmed: Tuesday, January 15
Aired: April 4, 1991
Nielsen rating: 16.9 (First time being aired after Cheers since season 1)
Audience share: 28
Directed: Tom Cherones
Writer: Peter Mehlman

In these early seasons Elaine occupies a different position in the quartet than she would come to hold in the series. From her first appearance in "The Stake Out" to this episode, the relationship between Elaine and Jerry (and thus, between Elaine and George) is undermined by the fact that they used to date. Though they vow at the end of "The Stake Out" to freely discuss their relationships with each other, Jerry's discomfort with the idea of Elaine moving into the apartment right above him stems from the same anxiety.

JERRY: She's right in my building! Right above me! Every time I come in the building, I'm gonna have to sneak around like a cat burglar.
GEORGE: You're doomed. You're gonna have to have all your sex at women's apartments. It'll be like a permanent road trip. Forget about the home bed advantage.
JERRY: But I need the home bed advantage!
GEORGE: Of course, we all do.
Towards the end of the episode the same problem occurs to Elaine. "I was worried," she says to Jerry, "that there might be a situation in which one of us come home with somebody, it could get a little uncomfortable." No other reason is given for Jerry's resistance to Elaine moving into the building. He is merely uncomfortable with the idea of having sex with a current girlfriend when his ex-girlfriend is his upstairs neighbor. As he more vaguely explains to Kramer, "I sometimes feel awkward, uncomfortable, even inhibited in certain situations with the other human beings."

My theory is that over the course of the series Elaine gains a more intimate relationship with Jerry and the others by becoming more masculine. Not biologically. Not in her appearance. Not sexually. Her female-ness is an important piece of the show; in most ways, she never loses her femininity. But in the way she talks about sex with the other characters, Elaine comes more and more to share their masculine perspective of the world. That is, a Jerry and George masculine perspective of the world. (Jerry is no Sam Malone. He's no Rocky. He's no Indiana Jones. Etc.) Sex is the main object in dating, not the relationship itself (she keeps going back to David Puddy) nor having children (she must have her sponges!). (I'm talking about stereotypes here, by the way.) Can you imagine the Elaine of the later seasons caring for a second if she lived upstairs from Jerry and knew he was having sex? Other than "The Mango," the season five premiere, the show refused to bring Elaine and Jerry together. Any romantic pains Elaine has for Jerry fade away after season two.

I also think this transformation in Elaine takes place as the male writers of the show gradually shift in their understanding of who the character, Elaine, is. For lack of a less-loaded term, she is somewhat objectified in these early seasons. Gradually, the fact that she was a sexual conquest of Jerry stops being so important to her character. What is important is that Jerry, George, and Kramer find they can talk frankly about all subjects, including sex, in front of Elaine, and vice versa. This opens the door for her to become more of a subject in the show, a woman who is just one of the guys.

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