Saturday, April 21, 2012

SEINFELD - Season 3, Episode 13 - The Subway

“The Subway”

First Script Read: Wednesday, December 3, 1991
Filmed: Monday-Tuesday, December 8-9 , 1991
Aired: January 8, 1992 (first episode of 1992)
Nielsen rating: 12.8
Audience share: (18.89 million, the highest rating since the season premiere. NBC ordered season four two weeks later.)
Directed: Tom Cherones
Writer: Larry Charles

 In a memorable early scene, the four characters go their separate subways as only Elaine mutters a quiet, "see ya!" George chooses sex over a job interview, and is conned out of eight dollars and his only suit. Elaine's subway breaks down en route to a Lesbian wedding. Kramer gets lucky when an overheard horse racing tip pays off, and lucky again when he bumps into an undercover cop just as he is about to be mugged. Jerry's story is the most surprising.

Jerry is so tired he falls asleep on the subway. He wakes up to find the man across from him has taken off all his clothes. Jerry is shocked and dismayed, but he rolls with this development, as the audience is expected to; there are a lot of weirdos in New York.

NAKED MAN: I'm not ashamed of my body.
JERRY: Exactly. That's your problem. You should be.

The rest of the passengers are crammed at one end of the subway car. We might expect the germaphobic, uptight Jerry to join them. But perhaps because he slept through the disrobing process, Jerry remains seated. In fact, he strikes up a conversation. When the episode returns to his storyline, he is talking Mets baseball with the man as if he were...well...fully clothed. Jerry has found a common interest with the naked guy. He even vows to sit naked at the World Series with the man if the Mets could ever make it that far. They are such fast friends that they end up spending the day together at Coney Island.

What should we make of Jerry's kindness towards the naked guy? In this case, Jerry's ironic detachment from the world allows him to process the man's sudden nakedness. He tosses out a few sarcastic remarks, and having established his own position on public nakedness as in line with expected social norms, he finds he can get passed the man's abnormal behavior and actually form a human bond. The bond requires detachment. Jerry does not sympathize with whatever mental health or journey of life has led the man to feel he can take his clothes off in a subway car. Far from it. He dismisses it and moves on with his own life. Clothed, the man is a suitable companion for Coney Island, and good enough for Jerry.

Who likes to ride the roller coaster and play games on the boardwalk? Children. Who lacks shame in their own nakedness? Children. So Jerry and the naked man have that in common, too.

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