Tuesday, September 4, 2012

SEINFELD - Season 6, Episode 17 - The Doorman


“The Doorman”

First Script Read:
Filmed: January 25, 1995
Aired: February 23, 1995
Nielsen rating: 22.4
Audience share: 33
Directed: Andy Ackerman
Writers: Tom Gammill and Max Pross


As a member of the blue collar class, the doormen occupy a strange profession, particularly to the vast majority of Americans, even wealthy ones, who have never had a doorman. It's an outdated job and an apparently unnecessary luxury in a nation which has been relatively less class-conscious than other western countries. Jerry delves into this in his monologue:

JERRY: You remember a few years ago in New York we had the doorman strike? They have a union in the fancy buildings, and they went out on strike. Now you would think if any group of people would not want to demonstrate what life would be like without them, it would be doormen. "Let's see how they do without us!" There's no doorman. People open the door. They walk in. It's...you know...who's gonna walk out next? The guys who clean your windshield at the traffic light with the dirty rag? "We demand shorter yellows, and longer reds!"

Elaine is still working for Mr. Pitt, precisely the kind of wealthy, old-fashioned, out-of-touch city-dweller who might enjoy the services of a doorman. She is house-sitting for her boss in this episode, and so Jerry, a wealthy but extremely unpretentious 30-ish city-dweller ends up interacting with the doorman. Because he would never want a doorman at his own apartment, Jerry is extremely awkward around this doorman. The doorman himself is quite antagonistic, and their passing relationship spirals out of control:

DOORMAN: Whoa, whoa whoa! May I help you?
JERRY: Yeah, I'm just going up to see Elaine Benes.
DOORMAN: Benes? No one here by that name.
JERRY: Oh, she's uh, she's house-sitting for Mr. Pitt.
DOORMAN: Oh. House-sitting, hmm?  
JERRY: Yeah.
DOORMAN: What are you, the boyfriend? Here for a quickie?
JERRY: Can I just go up?
DOORMAN: Oh, I get it. Why waste time making small talk with the doorman? I should just shut up and do my job, opening the door for you.
[AWKWARD PAUSE AS JERRY WAITS FOR THE ELEVATOR AND THE DOORMAN REACHES FOR HIS NEWSPAPER]
JERRY: How 'bout those Knicks?
DOORMAN: Oh, I see. On the sports page
JERRY: Yeah.
DOORMAN: What makes you think I wasn't reading the Wall Street page? Oh, I know. Because I'm the uneducated doorman.

Later, Jerry runs into the doorman unexpectedly on a later shift. The doorman explains, "You see, my fellow doormen and I watch out for each other. We don't stab each other in the back like people in your world." It's a critique that rings partly true, as the quartet of characters on Seinfeld have betrayed one another from time to time, though they just as often do each other favors.

The doorman isn't, however, a character to be taken seriously as a voice of reason, speaking truth into Jerry's sheltered, upper-middle class existence. On the contrary, he is a ridiculous character, clinging to notions of class that Jerry and his friends simply don't have. The doorman accuses Jerry of thinking he's better than the poorer laborer, but that's not true at all. The doorman's class consciousness is ultimately absurd. 

At the same time, Jerry isn't so far off from the doorman's view of the world. He takes the doorman's place and becomes just as short and defensive about his place in the world as the real doorman. It's not the personality but the occupation that makes the doorman crazy.

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