Wednesday, May 23, 2012

SEINFELD - Season 4, Episode 15 - The Visa

“The Visa”

First Script Read: November 22, 1992
Filmed: Wednesday, November 25, 1992
Aired: 9:00 pm, January 27, 1993
Nielsen rating: 11.6
Audience share: 17
Directed: Tom Cherones
Writer: Peter Mehlman

I discussed Seinfeld's negativity towards good deeds in Babu's original appearance in "The Cafe." The same lesson is repeated in "The Visa," although this time Jerry might understandably be motivated more out of guilt than selfless compassion. This time, he gets Babu an apartment in his building and a job at Monk's, the restaurant where the gang hangs out. Unfortunately, Babu's visa renewal form got mixed up with Jerry's mail, which Elaine had been collecting for him while he was out of town. Elaine is late in getting the mail to Jerry, and Babu is too late to renew his visa. He is deported, and we last see him stuck in the poverty of Pakistan, vowing revenge on Jerry. Babu is a pretty vengeful guy. He really holds a grudge, and unlike "The Cafe," when he was the victim of Jerry's well-intentioned but ultimately bad advice, this time his misfortune is just a result of thoughtlessness on Elaine's part and, really, a mistake by the mailman. He should really get revenge on Newman and his co-workers!

George has the more compelling storyline in "The Visa." He meets a beautiful lawyer, Cheryl, at the restaurant, charming her with his sense of humor. Then Jerry and Elaine show up, and George immediately feels overshadowed by their wit. George tries to avoid Jerry and Elaine, but he and Cheryl run into them out to dinner.

ELAINE: He thinks that if a woman sees a guy put on a better show, she'll walk out on his show, go see the other show.
JERRY: Well, should we leave?
GEORGE: Maybe you don't have to be so funny. I mean, would it kill you not to be so funny all the time? That's all I'm asking. This woman thinks I'm very funny. Now you're gonna be funny, so what am I gonna be? I'm gonna be a short bald guy with glasses who suddenly doesn't seem so funny.

Jerry, always willing to help George out, turns off the wit and forces a morose attitude that is completely contradictory to his usual dry jocularity. (Can you be dry and jocular at the same time? If so, that's Jerry.) Unwittingly, this turns out to be a turn on for Cheryl. She admits her attraction to George, who reveals the deception to her in a classic George rant:

GEORGE: You think the person you were talking to is him? That's not even close to him. He's funny, Jerry's funny.
CHERYL: He never said anything funny.
GEORGE: He can't not be funny.
CHERYL: No no no, he's dark. And disturbed.
GEORGE: Dark and disturbed? His whole life revolves around Superman and cereal. I convinced him to act like that so that you would think I was funnier.  That's how disturbed I am! If you want disturbed, that's disturbed. You can't find sickness like that anywhere, you think sickness like that grows on trees?  Nobody is sicker than me, nobody. He's pretending, I'm the genuine article.
CHERYL: So you're telling me Jerry's whole thing was an act?
GEORGE: Yes! And I put him up to it, because I'm sick! I'm the one that needs help.
CHERYL: I gotta go.
GEORGE: Well, should I call you later?
CHERYL: Please don't.
GEORGE: But, but I'm disturbed! I'm depressed! I'm inadequate! I got it all!!

I'd like to know more about Cheryl, because she really did seem to be taken with George, Elaine, and Jerry's humor in the early scenes. She laughed hard at their jokes and really seemed to enjoy their company. Then Jerry flips his phony dark side switch on, and she falls in love with that? Come on, Cheryl! How about some consistency for poor George?

Seinfeld actually treats women with respect, in some ways. I don't mean the characters are good to women. And I don't mean Elaine is someone who is ultimately worthy of a great deal of respect. She is quite flawed. But the other women in Seinfeld, the ones who date Jerry, George, and even Kramer, only stick around until they see the true nature of the people they are dealing with. Then they make the smart decision and bolt from the relationship. Usually, they won't descend to the gangs level. They might be fooled and/or charmed for a little while, but ultimately, with the notable exception of Susan, they all escape the orbit of this dysfunctional quartet.

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