15. ‘The Fusilli Jerry’ (Season 6, episode 107)


I mean, this move is no good, Jerry. It’s just taking up a lot of my time. And I…will not stand by and allow him to perform this move on me, when a perfectly good move is just sitting in the barn doing nothing!

Not wanting to turn today’s posting into a complete reprisal of the last one, but it would seem to me that in the ways I described ‘The Implant’ at number sixteen, I could begin to broach ‘The Fusilli Jerry’ at number fifteen. It too feels like a cultural sexual history, and if ‘The Implant’ seemed to be specifically about the history of sex with regards to people interacting within social groups, ‘The Fusilli Jerry’ would seem to be the slightly larger political subtext of such an examination. Outside psychoanalysis and/or the heads of those being examined, the history becomes one impacted by gender, class, and economics onto civilization at large. It seems ‘The Implant’s linking double feature partner; it the macro-history yin to the micro-history dynamics of ‘The Implant’s yang, or if you wanted to be accurate with the idea of the double bill sequence, you could see ‘The Fusilli Jerry’ as the evolution of ‘The Implant’ thematically. It’s my outlined evolution seen in ‘The Implant’ continued, akin, to how Malick’s The New World unfolds; ‘The Implant’ being the world of primitives (European settlers and Native Americans) rolling towards conflict from the baggage of misconceptions and incommunicable misunderstandings, while the ‘The Fusilli Jerry’ presents the next, final reel (as seen in The New World when the action returns to the manicured halls and gardens of Europe). We could continue further via technological advantage, but it’d be essentially the social era of advanced civilization where primitive urges and concepts start being impacted by institutionalized and politically motivated acts. ‘The Fusilli Jerry’ is great because it is all this, this post-history to ‘The Impant’s pretext history, but it also does manage touching the pretext too, in the past, so that it sits not in some post-modern world outside of everything but rather broaching a little of everything, seeing everything and having a hell of a laugh about it all.

The episode starts, more or less, right there then continues in a see-sawing manner between historical sexual subtext and post-modern political realization. Jerry, talking to Elaine is quite the cave man manner, articulates that as her former boyfriend should be prompted when she begins seeing potential suitors that Jerry may know. From there he doubles down on the dodgy point and claims he could never see Elaine dating such a person (in this case someone he views as lowly as a mechanic). Elaine, hinting to a cultural sexual fetish that Jerry clearly isn’t aware of (but then emasculated by), gives Jerry a detailed synopsis of why she does, complete with a cultural reference (the animal sexuality of Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire). This opening scene is one of importance for framing purposes; it shows how at odds the pair are morally, historically (meaning they—as symbols—aren’t at the same points in their cultural sexual evolution) and initiatively (plus, the opening stand up monologue even reinforces this exchange as Jerry laments about the inadequacy men feel when they can’t fix a car as their wife/girlfriend sits looking on). The rest of the episode will see every pair at odds similarly; George is inept to Jerry’s more advanced Lothario posturing but when put to the potential of losing money (by way of losing a trustworthy mechanic) he decides that money and secure transportation are more important than intricate maneuvers in the sexual realm. Elaine meanwhile offers the interesting female position; one of historical submission mixed interestingly with individual independence, where she pleads to wanting the move performed on her to satisfy her urges and desires no matter where it originated, nor by whom.

Reading the episode in this way is perhaps most clearly seeing in the clear historical conflict born in Kramer mistakenly replicating Frank Costanza’s ‘move’ on his wife Estelle (Itself a wonderfully comedic scene; as Kramer gets calls from passers by in his car of ‘Ass Man’ due to his mistakenly receiving another’s vanity plates. Estelle thinks these are calls for him ‘pulling her’—with the implication that she now views herself as a fine ‘piece of ass’ [we must stick to the nomenclature that the license plate would imply] so that when he brakes after hitting a pot hole she see his bracing grab as a sexual advance not what it actually is, a mere safety precaution.). There are then a whirlwind of differences, all reinforcing my points. First, the difference in age and social tie invest Frank in both protecting his move (born in another era), but more importantly, his wife. Even though he and Estelle are technically separated, he is ready to come to blows with Kramer (the line between chivalry and machismo has always been razor thin). Compared to Jerry who has no regard for his move when put against economics, or George’s cheating in replicating the move (sex as mere following a text manual rather than sensual expression is a clear historical evolution—from no longer primitive to ‘refined’—of the act), or heck even David Putty’s trashing of the unspoken code that Frank partly so wants to protect in the stealing of others (in this case Jerry’s) move(s), Frank seems an altogether different animal, from a different time. His immediate resorting to violence in handling Kramer would imply barbaric primitivism, while our culture would state that his protecting of Estelle in such a manner is ‘the right thing to do’ (even if it is itself also an act from a bygone, outdated era). Elaine throughout offers the wonderful counterpoints again—as I said in the piece for ‘The Bizarro Jerry’ at number 22, she was always the shows moral, or conceptual compass—pointing out where the boys shortcomings exist (in theory and practice) and how she feels the next sexual epoch should be ushered into existence.

One wouldn’t think that a show from a usually light weight genre—the sitcom—would produce such contemplation on this topic (or anything serious for that matter), but in these two back-to-back pieces on episodes appearing years apart in network airing, Seinfeld does just that. The fact that these did air years apart is an important one, here is a show sustaining and articulating themes and points. One is a coincidence, twice not an accident; Seinfeld could reexamine something while it reexamined itself, we just have to wonder if Larry David looked in the mirror  and said, “hey, that’s my move!”

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