Monday, August 6, 2012

SEINFELD - Season 6, Episode 7 - The Soup


“The Soup”

Filmed: October 24-25, 1994
Aired: November 10, 1994
Nielsen rating: 19.1
Audience share: 29
Directed: Andy Ackerman
Writer: Fred Stoller (A classic television "that guy," Stoller is more of a comic actor than a writer. He played the guy who Elaine is attracted to because he doesn't remember her in season 7's "The Secret Code." He is credited with the story for "The Face Painter" later this season.)


This is the first appearance of Kenny Bania. I wrote about Bania's success as a character when I contrasted him with another of Jerry's colleagues, "Buckles," in "The Movie." This episode also marks the first time the gang eats at Reggie's, the restaurant that would later serve as Biazarro Monk's. George insists on trying Reggie's because he is embarrassed to see the waitress he had a bad date with. Reggie's is also where Kramer's extremely hungry girlfriend, Hildy, works. Elaine has a new boyfriend, too. She literally brought Simon back with her from her trip to London. That relationship quickly sours. But because Elaine bought him an open-ended ticket, Simon sticks around, bumming cash off of her and her friends and picking up women in front of her. He gets his comeuppance in the end, though, when Elaine gets Bania into a fight with Simon, who is wearing the suit Bania originally gave to Jerry in exchange for dinner.

Most famously, this episode poses the age-old question, "Is soup a meal?" Jerry and Elaine break it down:
JERRY: So he just gets soup. He wants to save the meal. So now I got to do it all over again.
ELAINE: What kind of soup did he get?
JERRY: I don't know? Consommé or something.
ELAINE: Consommé, hmm.
JERRY: What?
ELAINE: Well, that's not really a meal, Jerry. I mean, if he had gotten Chicken Gumbo, or Matzah Ball, or Mushroom Barley then I would agree with you. Those are very hardy soups.
JERRY: Elaine you're missing the whole point.
ELAINE: What?
JERRY: The meal is the act of sitting down with him. It doesn't matter what you get. As long as he's sitting in that restaurant, it’s a meal.
ELAINE: Was it a cup or a bowl?
JERRY: You see, ah, uh ...
ELAINE: I’m just curious.
JERRY: A bowl, ok?
ELAINE: Did he crumble any crackers in it?
JERRY: (SIGHS)
ELAINE: Did he CRUMBLE any CRACKERS in it?
JERRY: As a matter of fact he did.
ELAINE: Oh, well. Crackers in a bowl. That…that could be a meal.
JERRY: It's like I’m talking to my Aunt Sylvia here.

Jerry's last comment is an odd one, considering his friendships with George and Elaine are based on breaking down life's minutiae. Perhaps he isn't as comfortable when he is the one on the couch. But the question remains. Is soup a meal? Actually, there are two separate questions here. Elaine is focusing on whether soup is substantial enough to count as a satisfying meal. If that is all that is at stake in Bania's suit-for-meal question, her analysis is correct. As a soup connoisseur, I can confirm that soup can be a meal if it is hardy enough, or if it is accompanied by something else that pushes the eating past the threshold from "snack" to "meal." This is, of course, Bania's argument as well. However, Bania is out for more than just a free meal, as Jerry fully understands. Bania's trying to scam Jerry, but not for free food. He wants Jerry's time. He has a big old mancrush on the successful comedian, and he wants as much of Jerry as he can get. Jerry knows this too. The real problem, though, isn't that Jerry is ripping Bania off, or vice versa. It's just that Jerry doesn't like Bania. If Jerry liked his fellow comedian there would be no problem. Of course, he's too polite to admit this. Instead he relies on passive aggression. The meal symbolizes their relationship. Jerry would be perfectly happy if their relationship was nothing more than a bowl of soup. Bania wants a full meal at a nice restaurant. It's not his stomach that is unsatisfied. It's his heart.

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