Saturday, April 14, 2012

SEINFELD - Season 3, Episode 7 - The Café


“The Cafe”

First Script Read:  Wednesday, October 2, 1991
Filmed: Tuesday, October 8, 1991
Aired: 9:30pm, November 6, 1991
Nielsen rating: 11.7
Audience share: 18
Directed: Tom Cherones
Writer: Tom Leopold (Also wrote season 3’s “The Suicide” and co-wrote season 4’s “The Cheever Letters.”)

In the previous episode, "The Parking Garage," the lost characters encounter a man who honestly admits that it would give him no satisfaction to help someone. This episode explores the flip side of that...and it is equally cynical. Jerry eats at Babu Bhatt's struggling "Dream Café" across the street, and then offers advice on how he can turn his restaurant into a success. Jerry is nauseatingly smug about his own behavior, and ultimately makes an enemy in Babu when the renovated restaurant quickly fails.

Jerry's inner-monologue is vocalized to reveal his self-satisfied thoughts:
JERRY (thinking): Very kind. I am a kind man. Who else would do something like this? Nobody. Nobody thinks about people like I do. All right, snap out of it you stupid jerk. You're eating a turkey sandwich. What do want, a Nobel Prize?

Later...
JERRY (thinking): I am such a great guy. Who else would've gone through the trouble of helping this poor immigrant? I am special. My mother was right. Of course I've never had Pakistani food. How bad it could be?

Later...
JERRY (thinking): Very good? No, not very good. Very great. I am very, very great. 

This last line he delivers while posing with his chin up, the camera framing his head alongside a bust of Julius Caesar decorating the wall of Babu's restaurant. But it all falls apart later for Jerry when Babu, finger wagging, declares him a bad man:

JERRY (thinking): Bad man? Could my mother have been wrong?


Of course, Jerry's life continues as normal, as any sitcom's main character's would. Babu's life is apparently ruined. Seinfeld does give its lead one more chance next season in "The Visa." Jerry tries to help Babu, but things go even worse, leading to Babu's deportation. Recalling that, in "The Parking Garage," the one woman who did agree to help gang ended up throwing them out of her car when George upset her, it's clear that no good deed goes unpunished in the Seinfeld universe. The potential satisfaction for helping someone out isn't worth the potential aggravation that even a passing relationship with another human being might bring. Jerry's standup routine at the end of the episode affirms this point:

JERRY: It's tough to do a good deed. Just look at your professional good deed doers. Your Lone Rangers, your Superman, your Batman, your Spiderman, your Elasticman. They are all wearing disguises, masks over their faces, secret identities. Don't want people to know who they are. It's too much aggravation. "Superman, thanks for saving my life, but did you have to come through my wall? I'm renting here, I've got a security deposit. What am I supposed to do?" 

If the characters of Seinfeld learn anything over the course of the series it is this lesson; in the series finale six seasons later, they end up in jail specifically because they don't help someone.


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