Monday, October 29, 2012

SEINFELD - Season 8, Episode 6 - The Fatigues

“The Fatigues”

First Script Read: September 26, 1996
Filmed: Tuesday, October 1, 1996
Aired: October 31, 1996
Nielsen rating: 20.3
Audience share: 32
Directed: Andy Ackerman
Writers: Gregg Kavet and Andy Robin

The running joke in "The Fatigues" is the existence of mentors. Jerry's girlfriend, Abby, has a mentor. Jerry berates the mentor when he discovers she is dating Kenny Bania. Bania eventually gets dumped. "The mentor saw my act," he explains to Jerry, who offers to help the struggling comic with his routine, in effect becoming Bania's mentor. Abby gets into a fight with her mentor. Mentor-less, she feels lost. George, seeing an opportunity for personal benefit (namely, he needs someone to write a book report on risk management for him), offers to be Abby's mentor. She eagerly takes up his challenge. Meanwhile, Elaine accidentally becomes a mentor to her fatigue-wearing employee when she continually promotes him, an alternative to the much more terrifying proposition of firing him.

The idea of the mentor is pondered with much confusion by George and Jerry:
GEORGE: I still don't understand this. Abby has a mentor?
JERRY: Yes. And the mentor advises the protégé.
GEORGE: Is there any money involved?
GEORGE: So what's in it for the mentor?
JERRY: Respect, admiration, prestige.
GEORGE: Pssh! Would the protégé pick up stuff for the mentor?
JERRY: I suppose if it was on the protégé's way to the mentor, they might.
GEORGE: Laundry? Dry cleaning?
JERRY: It's not a valet. It's a protégé.

Perhaps what is most baffling to George and Jerry is the idea of a person seeking self-improvement, particularly through a subservient, respectful relationship to another person. Personal development runs counter to the traditional sitcom genre, but this particular group's resistance to change is more deep-seated. George, Jerry, Kramer, and Elaine are a bit too lazy for self-improvement. They are too conceited, too self-important. Even George, who doesn't think highly of himself, seems to think even less of his fellow human beings. He could never lower himself to asking for help, and sees people as obstacles, not opportunity. George's worldview, not unlike that of his friends, is yet another reason for the isolation and lonely lifestyle of the Seinfeld characters.

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