The Bizarro Jerry
|"The Bizarro Jerry"|
|Episode no.||Season 8
|Directed by||Andy Ackerman|
|Written by||David Mandel|
|Original air date||October 3, 1996|
"The Bizarro Jerry" is the 137th episode of the American television sitcom Seinfeld. This was the third episode for the eighth season. It was originally broadcast on the NBC network on October 3, 1996. The title and plot extensively reference the Bizarro (the polar opposite of Superman) and Bizarro-Earth concepts that originally appeared in various comic books published by DC Comics. This episode is famous for introducing the phrase "man hands".
David Mandel wrote the episode in response to his girlfriend ending their long-distance relationship. His now-wife was self-conscious about what she calls her farm hands. According to Mandel, "It’s the modern equivalent of a Shakespeare sonnet.” The hands seen in the episode belong to New Jersey Native Eric Salisbury.
The signature Seinfeld theme song is played backwards in the tag scene of the episode - another reference to the "Bizarro" theme.
Elaine breaks up with her boyfriend Kevin (from "The Soul Mate"), but they decide to "just be friends." Much to Elaine's surprise, Kevin is thrilled at the idea, and starts becoming a much more reliable friend than Jerry. Jerry suggests to Elaine that Kevin is "Bizarro Jerry", and explains the comic book concept of Bizarro World. Meanwhile, Kramer accidentally gets a job at a company called Brandt/Leland when he aids an employee in the hall and starts going to meetings. He soon finds out he fits right in and starts working there for no pay, stating his reason as doing it "just for me." When Jerry asks Kramer what he does, Kramer responds, "TCB - you know, taking care of business!" A montage of his office work includes scenes of Kramer eating crackers at lunch and shining his shoes at the water cooler.
Jerry starts dating Jillian (Kristin Bauer), an attractive woman whose only flaw is that she has "man hands.", i.e. her hands are large and coarse like a man's. George uses a picture of Jillian to get into the "forbidden city", a club of attractive women and models, by saying that Jillian is his late fiancee Susan. Unfortunately, his luck ends when he accidentally burns the picture with a hair dryer. Jerry becomes bored at home, now that Kramer is "working", Elaine is always hanging out with Kevin and his friends Gene and Feldman (Bizarro versions of George and Kramer, respectively), and George only comes to him when he wants something.
By the end of the episode, Kramer gets fired by Leland (despite the fact that Kramer doesn't really work at Leland) because of his shoddy work ("It's almost as if you have no business training at all"). Jerry wants to be "just friends" with Jillian, who does not take too well to the idea. While trying to get another picture of her from her purse for George, she grabs Jerry's wrist (which Jerry later describes as almost ripping his arm right out of the socket). George tries to use a picture of a model from a magazine to get back into the club, but his plan is foiled when he accidentally confronts exactly the same model from the magazine picture and gets kicked out. Elaine decides to stay with her "Bizarro friends", but is explicitly asked to leave by them when they do not take to some of the normal things she usually does with Jerry, such as eating olives directly out of the jar from Kevin's refrigerator and pushing Kevin, with her trademark outburst of "get out!", so hard that he falls and is hurt.
Later, George takes Jerry to the location of the club, but all they find is a meat packing plant. George is dismayed, while Jerry doesn't believe there ever was a club there. As they leave, they miss seeing the photo George had taken from a magazine, lying amidst the sawdust on the ground.
- When George starts dating models, he makes a reference to Jerry by saying "Flame on!". This is a reference to The Fantastic Four's team member, the Human Torch.
- Elaine describes Kevin as Jerry's opposite since Kevin is reliable and kind, contrasted to Jerry's forgetfulness and indifference.
- Gene is shown to be quiet, courteous, charitable and well dressed as opposed to George being loud, obnoxious, cheap and slobbish.
- Feldman acts generously to his friends, regularly buying them lunch and bringing Kevin groceries. He also always knocks on Kevin's door and waits for him to unlock it. This is opposite to Kramer, who constantly takes Jerry's groceries and bursts through his door without warning. As opposed to Kramer's zany schemes which often are seen through to the end, Feldman has good ideas which he rejects as silly.
- Vargus, a FedEx worker, is good friends with Kevin, opposed to Newman, a postal worker and mutual enemies with Jerry.
- Elaine hangs out with these counterpart friends at Reggie's, which Jerry describes as the "Bizarro Coffee Shop". Reggie's had previous visits by George in The Soup and The Pool Guy.
- Kevin's apartment, where he and his friends spend time reading, is a mirror image to Jerry's. Also seen in the background of Kevin's apartment is a unicycle, which also is a reflection on Jerry's bicycle hanging in his apartment, and a PC - the opposite of Jerry's Mac. Kevin also has a statue of Bizarro as opposed to Jerry's statue of Superman. The locks on Kevin's apartment door are on the opposite side and, in this case, are actually used in sharp contrast to the locks on Jerry's apartment door.
- The episode also features a quintessential conversation in the Seinfeld repertoire when Elaine compares Kevin (aka Bizarro Jerry) to Jerry:
- "...They read."
- Jerry: "I read."
- Elaine: "Books, Jerry."
- Jerry: "Oh... big deal!"
The concept of a Bizarro universe is directly taken from the Superman universe, in addition to verbal references to Superman:
- Jerry: Yeah, like Bizarro Superman—Superman's exact opposite, who lives in the backwards Bizarro world. Up is down; down is up. He says "Hello" when he leaves, "Goodbye" when he arrives.
- Elaine: Shouldn't he say "bad bye"? Isn't that the opposite of goodbye?
- Jerry: No, it's still goodbye.
- Elaine: Does he live underwater?
- Jerry: No.
- Elaine: Is he black?
- Jerry: Look, just forget the whole thing. All right?
At the very end of the show, a scene takes place in Kevin's apartment (which has a Bizarro statue by the door, similar to how Jerry's apartment has a Superman statue by the door) in which Kevin, Gene, and Feldman all join in a group hug, and the following line is spoken in the same way that the Bizarro from the Superman Universe speaks:
- Kevin: Oh... me so happy. Me want to cry.
In a review of two adjacent episodes, David Sims of The AV Club writes, "The Bizarro Jerry and The Little Kicks are probably two of the better-known season 8 episodes and for good reason – they're a lot of fun." Sims speculates that "The Bizarro Jerry just reeks of a concept that Seinfeld wanted to do forever, given his obsession with Superman, and finally got the chance to once he was fully in charge of the show... Elaine finds that Kevin...and his friends are like a weird mirror group to her friends. But it's very effectively staged that it works, even once the joke has become totally familiar – the idea of characters having strange doubles is now one of the oldest sitcom tropes in the book... Elaine, of course, quickly realizes that the bizarro universe is not for her... the whole time she's more of an interested party than anything, examining the bizarro gang like a scientist." Of the "man hands" segments, Sims says, "Like many a good Seinfeld episode, there's a B-plot nestled in here that feels like the dominant A-plot of another episode, considering what a major meme it became."
John J. O'Connor of The New York Times also explained why he found the episode fun: "Bizarro Jerry has found Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) entering a world of virtual reality with a new boyfriend who eerily resembled Jerry except that he was reliable and considerate. Moreover, his friends were physical clones of George and Kramer (Michael Richards). 'It's like Superman's opposite,' observed Jerry, pinpointing the bizarro of the title. Meanwhile, Jerry was dating a beautiful young woman whose only flaw (flaws are inevitable on Seinfeld) was having man's hands: meaty paws, whined Jerry, 'like a creature out of Greek mythology.' Kramer drifted incomprehensibly into a corporate job in which he 'finally found structure' and was able to strut about with a briefcase full of Ritz crackers."
- Sipher, Devan (2007-01-14). "Rebecca Whitney and David Mandel - New York Times". Nytimes.com. Retrieved 2011-05-27.
- Sims, David (November 10, 2011). "The Bizarro Jerry/The Little Kicks". The AV Club. Retrieved May 1, 2013.
- O'Connor, John J. (Oct 31, 1996). "Seinfeld, a Short Kvetch From Bizarre to Bizarro". The New York Times. Retrieved May 1, 2013.