First Script Read: November 22, 1991
Filmed: November 26, 1991
Aired: January 29, 1992
Nielsen rating: 11.4
Audience share: 18
Directed: Tom Cherones
Writer: Tom Leopold
Mad Men has captured the lonely isolation of the suburban home, described by sociologists from Betty Friedan to Robert Putnam. Seinfeld's title character is not so isolated in his urban apartment, and not nearly as isolated as the audience might expect from his self-centered personality. This is a sitcom, so the main characters in Jerry's life are a small bunch who are heavily involved in his life. But throughout the series Jerry is also constantly bumping into family members (Uncle Leo, for example) and acquaintances (Kenny Bania, for example). It's clear Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld are interested in the comedy created by the less-than-close friends who intersect with life only occasionally but often memorably. Because of Larry David's anal-retentive emphasis on continuity as well as his amusement at self-referentiality, Jerry's social network of recurring acquaintances is, I would guess, perhaps the largest of any sitcom lead's in network television history.
This is the first appearance of the most famous recurring character in Seinfeld, Newman (played by Wayne Knight). Jerry is a big comic fan, and has often described Newman as the Lex Luthor to Jerry's Superman. But, of course, neither would actually try to kill the other one. You wouldn't call Jerry and Newman friends, but that is only because neither is a very good person. They visit each other's apartments. They begrudgingly do favors for each other. They are involved in each other's lives. In more recent times, the pair might best be labeled, "frenemies." Actually, Jerry's relationship to Newman is a lot like many of his other relationships. Jerry doesn't like a lot of the people in his social network. Sometimes he doesn't even seem to like Kramer or George or Elaine.
But George is his oldest friend. Elaine is an ex-girlfriend who he has managed to remain friends with because they are so similar in their worldviews. Kramer is a neighbor who, probably despite Jerry's desires, has wormed his way into Jerry's apartment and his heart, or at least what heart he has.
He interacts with Newman because they live in the same building. In this episode, he also interacts with Martin, his next-door neighbor, and Martin's girlfriend, Gina, who he dates while Martin is in a coma.
We have also seen Jerry interacting with his two (apparently gay) landlords (in "The Robbery"), which whom he gets along quite well. Jerry, by nature, is fairly introverted, but because of his strong desire to meet the social expectations of the world around him, he is extremely polite. He hesitates to date Gina, not out of a moral obligation to Martin but out of a concern for social etiquette:
KRAMER: Ah, what kind of a man are you? The guy is unconscious in a coma and you don’t have the guts to kiss his girlfriend?
JERRY: I didn’t know what the coma etiquette was.
KRAMER: There is no coma etiquette. You see that’s the beauty of the coma, man. It doesn’t matter what you do around it.
JERRY: So you’re saying, his girl, his car, his clothes, it’s all up for grabs. You can just loot the coma victim.
KRAMER: I’d give him 24 hours to get out of it. They can’t get out of it in 24 hours, it’s a land rush.
JERRY: So if the coma victim wakes up in a month, he’s thrilled, he got out of the coma. He goes home, there’s nothing left?KRAMER: NOTHING LEFT! That’s why I’m trying to get that vacuum cleaner. Because somebody’s going to grab it.
Jerry develops his far-flung social network with people like Newman and Bania, not from a yearning to build meaningful connections with other people, but from a preoccupation with behaving as he understands society expects him to behave.