Friday, November 2, 2012

SEINFELD - Season 8, Episode 12 - The Money



“The Money”

First Script Read:  December 15, 1996
Filmed: Sunday-Tuesday, December 15-17, 1996
Aired: January 16, 1997
Nielsen rating: 24.5
Audience share: 36
Directed: Andy Ackerman
Writer: Peter Mehlman


Money dominates the interactions in this episode, but in a variety of different and complex ways.

First, after Elaine pays for a package of coffee for George, he starts to think she is sticking it to him that she makes more money than he does. Since J. Peterman disappeared off to Burma, Elaine has taken over the management of his catalog and is thus earning a higher salary as well as stock options. George tries to one-up Elaine by buying her a ridiculously extravagant coffee machine, ostensibly to thank her for buying him the coffee. George can't even accept a friendly gesture without looking for some underlying purpose.This rivalry is short-lived, however, as Peterman returns and resumes command of his catalog, sending Elaine back to her old job and salary. At the end of the episode she exhibits the same form of jealously George did, suspecting George of sticking it to her that he makes more than she does.

Meanwhile, Jerry's parents are visiting New York. They let slip that they sold Jerry's Cadillac and want him to have the money, having heard that he bounced a check (an event that happened in the previous episode that was only remedied by Jerry's entry into the world of underground cock fighting). Jerry, who is financially doing fine, is furious. He sneaks down to Florida to buy the Cadillac back from Jack Klompus, his father's friend and occasional rival. Klompus sells it back for a profit. Jerry returns to New York, but has to fly right back to Florida when Klompus drives the Cadillac into a swamp. Jerry has to pay for the car to be cleaned. The flights, the car, and the cleaning cost Jerry $20,000, but he is satisfied that he got the Cadillac back to his parents. Unfortunately, they still don't believe that their son is financially stable. Worrying how they will have to support their son, the Seinfelds sell their condo and buy a camper that they attach to the back of the Cadillac.

Finally, with all the talk about money, George begins to greedily contemplate how much his parents will leave him when they die. He asks them about their family's health history, hoping that they might pass on sooner rather than later. His inquiries backfire when he parents recognize their own mortality and decide to start spending their money. With Kramer's help, they realize they can't spend it fast enough in New York (which doesn't make sense, but whatever). They pose their dilemma to George:

FRANK: George, your mother and I, and Kramer have been talking.
GEORGE: Oh god.
KRAMER: Uh, George, your parents can't blow through their savings in this community. It's low-rent. Now, we feel that Florida is really the place where they should be.
FRANK: You can drop a grand in Disneyworld like that!
GEORGE: Wait a minute. You're thinking of moving to Florida again?! (See season 7, episode 15)
ESTELLE: Well, it's either that or we stay here near you and just sit on the money. What do you think we should do Georgie?

George is torn between his desire for money and his desire to far away from his parents. Ultimately, he tells his parents he wants them to stay...at which point they inform him they are moving to Florida and were only humoring him by asking his opinion. That's okay with George, who immediately starts basking in his buffer zone. The arrangement is short-lived, however. In Florida Frank spots Jerry sleeping in the back of the Cadillac; he's maxed out his credit card and can't afford a hotel. Deciding that there are too many bums in Florida, Frank announces that they are moving back to New York. (Again, it makes no sense.)

Jerry and his parents are the only redeeming characters in this study of relationships between friends, family, and money. George and Elaine are greedy and jealous. The Costanzas would rather spend money on themselves than their son. Klompus takes advantage of first the Seinfelds than Jerry. The problem Jerry faces with his parents is that they can't seem to trust each other. Stubbornly, they talk past each other. To satisfy his own sense of responsibility, Jerry insists on giving his parents gifts that they claim not to want. Jerry's parents don't trust their son's words - or talents - enough to believe he is financially stable, thus their constant refusal of his gifts. Their generosity towards each other masks their lack of intimacy.

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